In the early 70’s I became aware of the things that could be made with stained glass, and I began to work with it.  My early efforts were crude, and many thanks are due to friends who received such pieces quietly.  But, with time and experience my work improved.  At one point in our salad days I paid for wallpapering one daughter’s bedroom with the proceeds from selling pieces.  (I didn’t do that well; we were simply able to buy the paper and we hung it ourselves.)

Here are some pieces that I still have and hang.

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The sail boat in this 18″x30″ piece was from a purchased pattern but Old Barney is an original pattern.  I made this to block the light in a high window of my old shore house’s master bedroom.  In the new shore house it filters the morning sun coming into the kitchen.  One of the challenges of the piece was to have the swirls in the sky and sea glass flow from one panel to the other.  A second challenge was the lead lines, themselves.  They’re necessary to enable doing the piece but I made them flowing with  the direction of the sky and sea.


Here’s another seashore piece which is frequently seen. The challenge was to select the background glass and then to cut the sections such that the swirls flow from one piece to another across the lead lines.  Size: 14″ diameter.

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This is a piece that I created for a friend who had a large Bonsai collection.  I told him he’d never have to water it.  I liked it so much that I did another for myself.  One thing that sets it off so nicely is the background glass I found.  I wanted to suggest the plant was sitting on a window ledge but if I had used clear glass it would not have been as effective.  It’s as though there were a shoji screen behind it.  Size: 22.5″ x 19″

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This piece was made from a purchased pattern.  It took a long time because of the many tiny pieces creating the feather details, many of which required grinding after cutting to enable fit.  I remember the project chiefly because I worked on it while at an adjacent bench my late wife, Marty Lou, who was in chemo at the time, was putting together a doll house.  Because of his love of hunting this will go to my favorite son-in-law, Bob, when I’m finished with it.  The size: 17.5″ x 21.5″

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A number of years ago my eye was caught by a friend’s Christmas Card.  I scaled it up to a 23″ x 29″ pattern and here’s the result.  I found a great piece of glass suggestive of foreboding, swirling movement in a night sky.  Again, by means of careful (and lucky) cutting, the flows in the glass smoothly cross the lead lines. 

The poor angel remains faceless because I lack drawing ability.  In stained glass panels from the medieval through the break-thru work of Louis Comfort Tiffany to modern architectural work there are extensive painted details.  My father could do it; I can’t.

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Sun catchers?  Yep.  Lots of ’em over the years.  Here are two that I made for myself and still hang.  They’re both frequently seen but I had to create the patterns.

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Here are three seasonal window hangers which I created for myself.

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A February 2013 piece is this 13″ x 24″ panel of bevels surrounded by some streaky blue-white glass.  I have admired bevel panels for years but never tried one.  With the best of intentions I bought this set a number of years ago but life got in the way and it sat in storage until recently.  I’m pleased with the result but it was more difficult than I had expected.  The biggest problem was putting the bevels together with lead came.  The thickness of the came core builds up such that the pieces won’t quite come together where they should.  It occurred to me that perhaps they were intended to be foiled which would reduce the inter-piece buildup but I wasn’t thrilled with using foil for this piece.  The solution was to lengthen the space between the upper and lower pieces and the rest of the cluster by about 3/8 of an inch.  Then I ground off the tips of the pieces that were to fit into the 3/8″ vertical came strips, and it all came (no pun intended) together.

Cutting the four curves in each of the four corners from the blue-white streaky was not for the faint hearted either and I did wind up breaking one and having to cut a fifth.  Then there’s the problem of getting those corners to fit well into the came surrounding the cluster.  This is done by grinding down the cut curves where indicated.  I’m thankful for glazer’s putty to seal some of the light cracks.  The photograph was taken before final cleaning and puttying and one can see a couple of those light specs.

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A May 2013 piece is this rendering of the Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club’s 2012 Centennial logo.  The burgee on the left was the club’s choice at its 1912 founding but it was later found to conflict with a burgee of another club.  Thus, the burgee on the right became the club standard.  This 13″ by 18″ panel was tedious because of the several small pieces comprising/surrounding the maltese crosses.  I should have designed it larger but that might have made it unpopular as to where it would hang.  The jeweled knobs at the tops of the staffs are artistic license because the staffs would have been turned with wooden knobs.  Oh, well, my license.

The lead lines which lead from the jewels to the upper edge of the panel are esthetically awkward.  Stained glass workers will recognize the difficulty of cutting an inside circle, and even that would still, I think, have required at least one lead line.

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  1. Tom Graf Says:

    I like your work Ralph. It is on my list of thinks to conquer. I recently took up glass working. Glass blowing, torch work and kiln work. I was surprised at what I could do. I took a second lesson in glass blowing and got even better. I want to continue when I stop traveling for my photography. Don’t forget Photo Club 1st Thursday at RNC at 10am.


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