A Look Back At My Stained Glass Art
I’m working on the last piece of stained glass I will ever make. Of course I’ve said that before and somehow someone always has a compelling reason to get me to say yes to just one more, in spite of the fact that I’ve said so many times, “This is the last one.” I should know to never say never. I spent about thirteen years as owner of Lumiere Glasswork Studio, Inc. in Ithaca, New York. I’ve built hundreds of windows and lamps for all kinds of installations, many of which I would love to have owned myself. But they were for wonderful clients who appreciated me, allowed me great freedom to design for them, and usually paid me well for what they received. I have kept a few pieces for myself over the years. Mostly very early pieces. Samples. Small stuff. A few lamps. I still have two of the first pieces I ever made when I was taking a beginner’s class in Rochester.
But glass became a passion for me. I had always wanted to do blown glass, hot glass. But couldn’t afford the studio or the furnaces. So flat glass, stained and leaded glass, was a good alternative. It seemed to be a natural off shoot to all my interests; photography, architecture, drafting, drawing, designing, art, color, light. They all came together with glass. There are parts of the process I dearly love. The design work, choosing and cutting the perfect piece for each element in the pattern. Just looking at glass and handling glass. This I love and would still do. But then there are parts I don’t care for as much. The caulking, the brushing down, the cleaning, the installing. These parts I can live without.
But I’ve noticed, as I’ve written in this blog and posted other pictures of my glasswork, that a lot of the referral hits I get are from people searching for stained glass sites. So I thought, if this really is my last piece of glass, then I would do a short retrospective look at some of my favorite pieces.
I’ve worked in many styles of glass. Contemporary, pictorial, abstract, Victorian. It has all depended on what the client wanted. The piece I’m working on now is for my father-in-law’s house in Florida. This will be the fourth piece for his house. The first was a Victorian I built for him when he was still in Connecticut, but it moved with him and became the first piece in the Florida house.
I love this piece. It’s one of my favorites. Jeweled Victorian windows were always a favorite of mine and I tried to learn to replicate the style in the best of tradition. I did several others as well for other clients. They are usually built of opalescent glass that is more opaque, often textured with ripples or surface textures, mottled colors, and holds the light within the glass.
This one was built for a house on the coast of Long Island at Montauk. The center motif is the waves breaking on the beach at night and the colors were drawn from the colors of the ocean and shells and sand.
This is one of a matched pair done for an Ithaca house. It’s the same house that has the grape arbor windows on a stairway that appeared in an earlier post about windows.
This is probably my favorite jeweled Victorian window of any I have made. A local restaurant owner lived in a large Italianate house outside of Ithaca. His daughter came home one day, kicked her shoes off in the kitchen, and sent one of them right through the etched cranberry glass pane in his back door. He hired me to make a replacement piece, and this was what I built for him. I love this piece for its delicacy, its transitions of color, its texture and its elegance.
Entry windows seem to provide a splendid opportunity for stained glass. Side lites, transoms, doors.
This transom window was done for a downtown Ithaca store.
This entryway set was made for a very good friend who has turned a simple lake house into a showplace over the last twenty-five years. The exterior of the front door is now done in bronze in a relief pattern that echoes the glass design.
This entry was done for a decorator’s home in the Binghamton area. The theme was beech trees and the way the leaves hang in the trees all winter. But instead of leaves, I substituted beveled glass that would sparkle and refract the light and feel very elegant.
And this again is one of my favorites. Based on a photo I took in the Catskills, it’s the wind through autumn trees.
This set of doors was built for a couple of wonderful friends at Cornell whose life and love is insects. My work for them started with a narrow side lite that you can see in the background outside the entry way. But eventually led to these doors and about ten lamps. Almost everything had an insect or nature theme.
Other nature and landscape themes have appeared in my glass designs over the years. Birds seem to be a regular request or adapt well to glass design.
This flamingo window was done for a bathroom and was a fun piece.
Parrots are great stained glass subjects (you’ll see them again) and this large transom in a family room added great color to the room. I love tropical themes because they create opportunity for wonderful colors.
Birds appear again in this series of about ten transom windows that all had a morning glory trellis with each panel containing a different animal. Several birds, squirrel, lizard, butterfly, etc. Flowers are the subject of many of my designs as well. Probably more often even than birds.
These iris panels are installed in an interior wall to separate an entry foyer from the dining room, but become equally visible from both sides and allow the extra passage of ambient light. They can be quite dramatic at night as well.
Nature on a grand scale is part of this window for a bathroom in Chenango Bridge, NY. The bathroom had a southwest theme with native American prints on the wall. The floor was done in a salmon marble tile. So the window design is totally southwest. The border is a native American mosaic motif with the salmon pink repeated. The center circle is an abstract of a photo I took in Arches National Park in Utah. I can’t imagine how it must feel to soak in this tub and look at this piece of glass.
I did several other pieces for this house, including this piece for the stairway. They also own the autumn trees triptych I showed earlier.
I love contemporary designs. Abstract, graphic pieces that allow any direction in the design process.
These windows were done as a wedding gift for two very dear friends. They were symbolic of their move from Massachusetts to Florida, with small representations of each state appearing in the upper left and lower right of the windows.
This window is not in a church, but in the stairway of a very contemporary house in Vestal, NY.
This set of windows was done for the foyer of a contemporary new home of a good friend that I often played racquetball with. I took the arch shape of the top and expanded on the theme to create an abstract of color and line.
This pair of windows was commissioned for the dedication of Emerson Hall on the Ithaca College campus.
In addition to windows I have made numerous lamps in the Tiffany tradition.
I originally built this lamp for myself. The flowers were done from a beautiful dichroic glass that was a deep magenta by reflected light and changed to a beautiful blue by transmitted light. This hung in my dining room for a few years, then I sold it to some good friends for their dining room when I moved out of the apartment.
This was the first lamp I made for my friends that have the insect doors. The theme was insects born from the water. The red signifies the peril they must survive to fly away and live out their lives as airborne insects.
Another lamp for the same house with parrots and tropical flowers. The base was custom made of cherry wood to look like bamboo.
This was the only lamp I made for their house without insects or animals.
This lamp was commissioned as a Christmas gift from a gentleman to his wife. They were originally from Weisbaden, Germany where there is a beautiful forest that they used to visit. The lamp is a depiction of that special place.
Then occasionally I was asked to make a special gift for a person by family members or close friends. These often result in little jewels that turn out better than expected. I was particularly fond of this piece.
This was a small panel done for a Methodist minister who was retiring from his parish at a small church in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.
Though I may be retiring from glass as an artist. I say “may” because I can never say never. I will always have a deep love for this art and feel a great sense of pride about all the pieces I have designed and created for so many wonderful clients and friends. I hope other glass artists will find these images and be inspired to create beauty of their own with glass. Until you have lived day to day with a piece of stained glass and seen how they change constantly with the light of the day and changing seasons, you never really appreciate fully how beautiful they can be.
All images and glass designs are copyright © George Cannon / All rights reserved.