Here’s an uplifting stained glass story from John Adams. This window was only his THIRD project. Pretty inspiring, eh?
I am a hobbyist in an Orlando, Florida, a USA suburb. A woodworking buddy taught me the basics of how to do stained glass art one afternoon a few years ago while I was his guest at his home in Nipoma, California.
I came home to Florida, bought some tools, a few supplies, created my own light box, found a used grinder on eBay, bought some books with instructions and patterns and made a couple of 10×14 size sun catchers to hang in windows with a good light source behind them.
Taking The Plunge
The first two projects seemed almost too easy so I decided that the next project would be something truly challenging. The photo shows the results. Of course the rest of the story is that after making my first two projects I became too busy making a living to do any stained glass work for a couple of years.
What you are looking at is a round stained glass window for the second storey front wall of our house. It has a 34” diameter and rests inside the white metal frame of the window installed when the house was built in 2005. The original window has a cross piece that gives the clear glass the appearance of being four equal pie shaped panes but the cross pieces are actually 1” wide sheet metal pieces painted white then glued directly to the surface of the glass. That is why you see an “X” in the background of the stained glass window.
All the training books and videos online encourage new “artists” not to try difficult pieces like my third project. The problem with that suggestion for me personally was that our house needed this creation and I really didn’t want to spend time and money practicing on little trinkets when I believed I could create something useful for our home. So, that’s what I did. I am married so I involved my wife along the way as I began drawing various designs that I felt would work well in the space. Then we took scaled down versions of the various designs, a big box of Crayola colored pencils and became little children again working diligently to outdo each other with color selections and “staying inside the lines.”
I still remember the moment when she looked at my latest revision and we agreed, “This is it!” Not until then did I pull together the estimated amount of materials I would need. We went online to a stained glass supplier, did our best guessing regarding the colors that would work with the design, and ordered everything I had estimated we would need. I intentionally ordered more of everything than I knew I would need to make sure I did not have to pay big shipping costs on a small order in the event that I had underestimated what I would need. I got the quantities I ordered and had supplies left for Christmas gifts just as I had desired.
The Round Stained Glass
The clear glass in the window is all beveled. The remainder is waterglass by Spectrum.
I am pleased that I found the self-confidence to attempt the design and construction of this window. Did I learn anything? Yes, I did. Did I make mistakes? Yes, I did. Correcting the mistakes taught me more than the hours of error free work.
I thought I should share this project and my story with you because I have recognized that you want to be an encourager. I enjoy your spirit. Your emails are positive, hopeful, and encourage people to plunge into an art form that few people know anything about and most people assume is beyond their skills. You and I both know that stained glass work is something that most people can do if they have someone to teach them the basics.
While I did not learn my basics from you, I have noticed that you are seeking to multiply yourself by teaching others. I wish you well on the journey. I hope it encourages you to know that someone new to the art form sees and appreciates what you are doing. Thank you for what you are doing for an important art form.
What a lovely email and a great story! It was a pleasure to read of your journey and how you had the courage to ‘go for it’. And look at what you have achieved, it’s fantastic.
I also love the image of you and your wife working out the design and colours. So often people go straight for the seductive glass without paying attention to this step – a big mistake in my view. Not only because of the wasted glass but the results aren’t so balanced AND they miss the fun of playing with colour and seeing what a difference changing just one colour can make to a window. All important things to learn!
I’m in total agreement with you that the best way to learn is through mistakes. I’ve made enough of my own over the years to know that, lol! Sometimes I even make the same ones twice, which isn’t so good 🙂 Those are always the ones to do with measuring and maths… I’ve got that number dyslexia thing so can really identify when people have trouble with that side of stained glass.
It can be overwhelming for some to leap into the unknown, we each have our own pace and ways to learn. Looks like you’ve found the way that suits you — this is great for a 3rd project — go find someone else who wants similar and get a commission!!