Aptos man creates 'divine' designs

EuroWindow uses old European style of leading, hand-painting glass. Divine things are coming out of Watsonville or, more specifically, from a little glass shop on Locust Street, where churches and chapels are lining up for stunning, hand-painted windows, which double as pieces of art.

EuroWindow, which has been in Watsonville since 1997, specializes in custom art glass windows, as well as restoration of church windows - some centuries old - and serves clients locally, nationally and abroad.

One of the company's most recent projects that has been attracting attention is a customized 13-by-14-foot, hand-painted leaded glass window for the Pacific Gardens Chapel in Santa Cruz.

"I think it's quite possibly the best window I've ever done," said Frank Warthemann, owner of EuroWindow, who has been working with glass since he was a teenager. "I don't sit in front of my own work very much, but there's something that is very moving about this particular piece."

The piece consists of several panels of hand-painted German glass - some weighing in excess of 300 pounds - divided by pieces of lead, with various images including a Monarch butterfly, a seashell and various flora and fauna characteristic of the area's natural environment.

The brilliant, sparkly, almost crystal-like colors, which come from combination of mouth-blown glass and special paints fired at 12,000 degrees, draw the observer in.

The six-person team at EuroWindow worked on the project for roughly six months.

"Nothing is really geared to one denomination; I really tried to stay neutral," Warthemann said. "We knew that we had to include some water and other elements of our natural environment. We were really grateful for the amount of freedom we were given on this project."

Warthemann said he sat in the church for nearly an hour just watching the sunlight seep into the building to come up with the best design for the piece.

"I certainly have my own religious beliefs, but had to make it a point to really keep those ideas out of this project," Warthemann said. "Considering this is a place where people are coming for funerals, I really tried to put myself into that mindset so I could create a window that would allow people to take their minds off things - to take their minds off what was going on. I wanted to create something else that people could focus on. I really put my heart into this one."

Vince Azzaro, one of the owners of the funeral chapel, said he has already received numerous compliments on the piece.

"There are some religious tones to it, but really it's much like a piece of art," Azzaro said. "It looks like the heavens. It's really neat, too, because it changes colors throughout the day and it's one of those things that every time you look at it, you see something different."

Azzaro said the window was just one part of a major remodeling project on the chapel.

"It's sad enough when people have to come to a funeral, but to have something like this to help people take their minds off the deceased person is really what this is all about," Azzaro said. "We're extremely happy with the work."

Most of EuroWindow 's work involves churches, whether it is restoring 80-year-old windows or designing and creating new windows. Warthemann estimates that nearly 75 percent of his work is new windows. Throughout the years, he's worked on pieces for churches over the hill in Sunnyvale and in Hollister, just to name a few.

EuroWindow works mostly in California, but has some clients as far as American Samoa. "A group of United Methodists from American Samoa came to the United States, and some other Methodist churches told them about us," Warthemann said. "When they needed some work done, they called us."

The shop specializes in the old European style of leading and hand-painting glass.

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