My commissioned work begins with a free initial consultation with the client. We discuss what they have in mind, their budget, the installation options, and their time frame. My process often begins with line sketches that I later add color to; it might also begin with quick watercolor paintings that I later add lines to. Either way, both color and line are important parts of traditional stained glass. While conceptual concerns might play a part early in a design, form is often where I begin and later come to understand meaning as it emerges.
Once we figure out general ideas, I make initial designs for the client to review and pick one to pursue. I then create a full-sized design and we work together to pick the glass that I will use. Choosing glass according to color, opacity, and texture are all important. These choices affect how the piece works with different lighting conditions—front light / back light, or to put it a different way, reflected light/transmitted light.
I then hand cut and grind each piece of glass to fit precisely together like a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece is prepared to be joined together using either copper foil and solder or lead came and solder which creates a metal matrix that holds everything together. Finishing the piece can involve adding a putty cement, patina, and wax polishing compound, depending on what is appropriate for a particular situation. Finally, the piece can be installed in one of several ways. I can make a wood frame to be hung in an existing window, or I can make it to fit exactly in the sash of an existing window, it can replace an existing window, or it can be placed in a new window opening.