Inspired-glass - commissioning a stained-glass window or panel - things to consider
This section is a kind of ‘Frequently asked questions’ about commissioning a piece of stained glass - either a door panel, a window, or a free-standing panel. I hope that you find it helpful.
What do you want?
At this stage you may not know quite what you want, or you may have quite a definite idea in your mind’s eye. What I’ll try to do is to work with you to understand your requirements, and create something in glass that meets your needs.
The first stage is usually a discussion between us - either by email, phone, or in person. Remember that everything is possible - it’s just that some things are more achievable than others. If we’re creating a larger window panel then bold designs often work better - as intricate detail may go unnoticed in a large panel, and may indeed be distracting.
If you’ve seen a design or colour combination that you like - please let me see them - as they will speed up the design process. Generally I prefer not to do a direct copy of another artist’s work (certainly not without asking their permission) - although other work can act as a good starting-point for design. Very often it is helpful to see three or four images of work that you like, and a similar number of ‘don’t likes’ - as this all helps to get an idea of what you are looking for.
Interior windows / doors and panels don’t present any special difficulties - but, if the stained glass is to be fitted to an external window then some decisions have to be made. My preference is to install the stained-glass panel in addition to the conventional double or triple-glazed windows - rather than incorporating it into a sealed unit - but we will discuss this on a project-by-project basis. Sometimes simple unobtrusive mounting clips can be used to secure the panel against the window-frame - other times it’s easier to construct a timber sub-frame and mount the panel within that. For small panels (as in exterior doors) the stained-glass panel can be bonded to the double-glazed unit.
Developing a design
We use a specialised computer CAD program, which allows us to develop a design and ‘virtually’ fill in the glass sections to get an impression of how the finished piece will look. At this stage we can try different glass colours, textures etc. and arrive at a final design. The images we generate can be emailed back and forth - so the design process can take place ‘remotely’.
At some stage it will probably be helpful for you to visit my studio and see some samples of glass - I usually have some 400 samples available, and we can discuss the various possibilities 'hands on'.
Accurate measurement of the required dimensions is very important - as it can be difficult (or impossible) to trim the finished panel to fit once it has been finished. A fairly foolproof way of doing this for new builds is for you to provide a plywood or card template that closely fits into the required aperture.
I will then build the panel directly on this template, allowing a suitable clearance all around - and we’ll know that the finished panel will fit!
If the panels are to fit into an older window or door then a template is essential, as these openings are seldom ‘square’.
At this stage we’d agree the mechanical detail of the panel, whether reinforcement is necessary and how it will be provided, and whether the finished panel (if copper-foiled) will be left in natural ‘pewter’ finish or treated with a black patina to simulate leadwork.
Building the panel
Once we have agreed the design and the specific types/colours of glass to be used, I will obtain the glass (usually from Irish suppliers) and then build the panel. This can take from a couple of days (for a small, straightforward, design) up to several weeks for a larger panel or group of panels.
Delivery & Installation
When the panels are complete, I will deliver them to your premises (or arrange for delivery), and can assist in installing them (as agreed). If the panels are part of a new build then it will be an advantage if your glazing/window suppliers are also available during the installation - so that we can iron out any outstanding details.
Some examples of commissioned / bespoke panels.
Fitting a simple glass panel in a timber subframe
This sunroom window (measuring 10ft wide by 4 ft tall) was a problem. Facing due-south - it made the sunroom uncomfortable to sit in - due to the heat and the direct glare. Adding some gorgeous pale blue streaky glass in a custom-built timber subframe meant that the direct glare is eliminated, and the view now shows blue skies, whatever the state of the West Cork weather!
Before.... ......and after
Stages in the development of a two-panel door
The client liked this photo of the Fastnet Light -
but the challenge was to depict it effectively
in a pair of narrow door-panels
The photo was cropped and manipulated on the computer to form two panels, and then scaled to the size and shape of the required openings.
From the photographs, I developed this ‘cartoon’ or cutting pattern, which was then printed off full-size and used both as a cutting guide and to assemble the panel on.
The finished panels - measuring some 3ft 6 inches by 11 inches. As the panels were to be delivered some distance to the client, the edges of the panels were reinforced with copper strip, which is invisible once the panels are fitted into the door.
If you would like to discuss a beautiful bespoke stained glass panel, window or door for your home
- please contact us.