Stained glass becoming popular in churches, homes

Members of Bethel Lutheran Church are tired of wearing sunglasses.The Classic Glass company of Fargo is creating a 700 square-foot window featuring a religious design to replace the church's current colored glass panels.

It will be one of the largest stained glass windows in North Dakota.

The church project is one of many that has spurred growth in the stained-glass business during the past five years, Classic Glass president Tracy Wallach said.

Bethel Lutheran Church members agreed last fall to begin the $100,000 project to replace the sanctuary's main stained glass window.

Some members have worn sunglasses to avoid the glaring sunlight streaming in the window during the evening worship service, church office manager Sandy Bedford said.

"A confirmation class that was held in there after the time change - they could hardly see the pastor," she said.

With a few holes and cracked panels in the 50-year-old glass to deal with as well, the congregation agreed the window needed improvement.

"(We wanted) something that would leave an impression with people and be kind of an inspiration," said Lincoln Thompson of the church's board of property and management.

The church submitted three themes for designer David Hetland of Fargo to choose from: the Good Shepherd, a cross and the fruit of the spirit.

Hetland incorporated all three.

"It's pretty incredible," said Thompson, who has seen a few of the new panels. "It's very impressive, to say the least."

After the design was complete, StudioWorks in Fargo provided the layout and full-scale drawing. The two-month process to build the window then began.

The window consists of three dozen 20 square-foot triangles, each sponsored by a congregation member or family.

Restoring stained glass is a major part of Classic Glass' business, Wallach said. Windows usually must be repaired after about 80 years.

Most of the restoration work is for churches, where stained glass has been popular for centuries.

Window designs in medieval times were used during Bible lessons to offer visualization, Wallach said. They also offer a focal point for the church.

Diane Hulbert's fascination with stained glass began after walking through the Stained Glass Workshop owned by Paul Anderson in Fargo.

The Fargo woman has since incorporated stained glass into much of her home.

The dining room and sunroom windows have floral designs in the center, while others have green leaves with beveled "jewels" that catch light.

A window design in her husband's study shows a pheasant flying out of a marsh.

"I like a lot of windows in a home, but I don't necessarily like bare windows," Hulbert said. "I like them to have some interest in them."

Anderson said he's kept busy since 1973 making stained glass windows and doing restoration work.

"It's been like having a hobby - and getting paid for it as well," he said of his job.

Fargo Lightbenders Glass Studio co-owner Jon Normann said his fascination with stained glass goes back to his childhood days of sitting in church.

Staring at the unique glass, he wondered how it was created.

Now, with 25 years of experience in the business, he's talking about adding another stained glass class because of the popularity.

Sue Thibedeau of Fargo started taking a class in Normann's studio about five years ago and now spends many Monday nights there working on projects.

"I like the reflection of the light through the glass. I just thought it was something that was a unique thing to do," she said.

Thibedeau prefers making Tiffany lamp reproduction shades. She is working on one with 900 pieces.

"I find it relaxing. It's a slow process, but when you're done," she said, "it's well worth all the work that you put into it."

600450 Stained glass becoming popular in churches, homes
Date: 1 August 2005

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