The Creation of Our Stained Glass Windows

Fabrication by the Burnham & LaRoche Studio, Medford, MA.
Design & Painting by James Francis Smith.


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Setting the parameters for a Church commission:

1. Subject matter, style, budget and liturgical questions will first be discussed in an on-site meeting designed to produce a free exchange of ideas. At the direction of Kevin Ryan, one of our associates will usually take this opportunity to measure the size of window openings while Jim Smith studies the interior to become familiar with the character of light and the amount of maximum sunlight. The typical viewing distance of each window will be noted, as will the times of use of the room during a typical day. Before any design work begins, we will seek answers to these and other questions which will influence the mood of the stained glass and its effect on the viewer.


The design is created and approval sought:

2.  Research on subject matter, symbolism and related matters will come next, followed by exploratory trial designs and a series of preliminary sketches based on the selected approach. Jim will then prepare a scale design in either black and white or in full color for approval by the client. This is one of the most critical stages of the entire process since the resulting drawing will include all significant details of the final window and serve as the focus of discussion prior to final awarding of the commission. The budget and details of the contract will be set at this time and will include any necessary decisions regarding window sashes (new or rehabbed), outside protection glass, ventilators to be supplied, etc.


Technical & aesthetic development of the Design:

3.  A full size layout of the window will now be prepared from the sizes previously measured. The layout, on sturdy drawing paper, contains details of all framing components, necessary structural support in the form of reinforcing bars and the like.

4. The approved design is next drawn, at full size, on the window layout paper. We will use this opportunity to enhance the details of the drawing and to add any drawing details not possible to show in the smaller presentation design. Lead lines between individual glass pieces will be rendered in their true size.

5. A pair of technical drawings must now be traced from the full sized maquette or cartoon. These will eliminate all design detail to show only the path of lead lines between the individual pieces of glass. Each piece will be marked with an identifying number. One of these tracings is called the pattern copy, the other the cutline.