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Stained Glass Artist


The sight of early morning sun streaming through the huge, brightly colored stained glass windows of a church is enough to make one want to stay right through the service. Stained glass is found in many churches, but it is not limited to being a religious art form. Stained glass is everywhere, from jewelry to home decor. Earrings, suncatchers, kaleidoscopes, door panels, lamps, candle holders, and, of course, windows, are some of the items that stained glass artists create for sale and display.

Stained glass artists use their creative abilities in different ways. Some work with pre-colored glass, while others choose to color and cut the glass on their own. They color it by painting it, or by adding color into the glass before it is cut. They burn pigments into the surface of the glass with heat, or they fuse metallic oxides onto it, creating an interesting finish. Some artists specialize in one area of staining, but most will have the ability to do them all, should need be.

Generally, stained glass artists make things for people upon request. This means they meet with the clients, or the head designer of the firm they work with, and discuss the needs and desires of their new customer. Once they get a good idea of what it is they are making, they must do some research: how big is the space where the piece will be mounted, what colors will work best in that environment, what story should the glass be telling.

Once a plan has been agreed upon, the artisan can begin working. Independent artists make art without commissions, and they take their pieces to galleries and craft shops for sale. They also sell pieces over the Internet.

Stained glass has played an important role in the lives of many people. Therefore, we should cherish these artisans, as they are struggling to keep alive this beautiful and unique practice for everyone.
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  Interests and Skills  
Interested in becoming a stained glass artist? Stained glass artists are creative, and driven to create art. They should be willing to put in long, hard hours. They need good manual dexterity, steady hands, and patience. Stained glass artists are innovative thinkers who enjoy creating new things. Drawing, design, and the ability to visualize ideas three dimensionally are important. Individuals wishing to pursue stained glass art as a career should have some business sense, as well as good people skills.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Come up with original designs and pieces
  • Consult with supervisor, head designer, or client about piece
  • Research current trends, historical and cultural traditions
  • Sketch ideas and plans for each creation
  • Prepare the glass and pigments for use
  • Use various methods to create object
  • Manage a shop or online business
  • They typical day for a stained glass artist involves meeting with clients and drawing up plans for the item they have commissioned, or plans for original pieces. When stained glass artists actually get down to it, and begin making the objects, the hours can be long, and quick, accurate work is crucial. Stained glass artists may travel around the world to exhibitions, festivals, and schools to sell their work, conduct seminars, and for research, to learn about new techniques and ancient traditions.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Generally, stained glass artists work part-time, however, the longer they work and the more popular their creations, the more likely it is their talents can be put to work full-time. They work in studios, often in their own homes. Stained glass artists usually work alone, or in collaboration with a few artists. They can set their own hours, and may work nights and weekends if working on a special project or design.
  • They may sell their original work in galleries, jewelry stores, or artisans' shops, or they may create special pieces made-to-order for specific clients.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Stained glass artists can become full-time artisans, and open a shop to sell their wares. They can become instructors, and write books and articles on the history and technique of their art. They can branch out into other areas of art, and become potters, silversmiths, jewelry or clothing designers, or open a store or gallery for artisans to sell and display their creations.

  Educational Paths  
There is no required path to take to become a stained glass artist. They need some training though, as there is a lot to learn when it comes to this craft. Many stained glass artists attend a college course in order to gain the techniques, while other look for an apprenticeship position, so they can study one-on-one in a glassblowing studio. There may also be some private classes or stained glass schools in your area, so check around for those.

Some individuals may choose to start their training off with a fine arts degree or diploma. This will provide them with a background in painting techniques, drawing skills, and some art history, as well.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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