Reviving the Ancient Art of Stained Glass

Stained glass is one of the Church’s most iconic art forms. Judson Studios in Los Angeles is reviving this art with a new technique. “What fusing does differently is it replaces a lot the darkness with a lot of light,” says lead artist Tim Carey.

Video Transcript

Narrator: Ornate, intricate, cautiously meticulous. Stained glass has filled our churches and imaginations with awe-inspiring visuals for millennia. But, at Judson Studios in a small neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, a new generation of artists are rethinking this ancient art form.

Stained Glass. LA

Tim Carey: Everybody, because stained glass is a thousand years old, has a connotation of what it is and where you see it, and it’s always church. Everybody has been in a church whether it’s growing up or going to Europe and seeing the stained glass in the buildings and it evokes a feeling. It evokes an awe-inspiring thing. There’s something about light coming through glass. I think there’s this natural feeling that people have of almost a seriousness.

What fusing does differently, I think, is it replaces a lot of the darkness with a lot of light and a lot of color. It is an expansion of the palette. It’s an expansion of the toolbox.

Narrator: Carey uses a combination of glass crystals called frit and blistering kilns to melt glass into dazzling results. Without the rigidity of traditional stained glass, his work becomes more fluid and modern.

Tim Carey: What really makes it look like a painting is the combination of the frit and the cut glass. This is a very rigid shape. But see, if I take this and put it on there and soften that edge, suddenly now this thing is going to go like that, feel like a brush stroke. It’s just a case of building this whole thing up. By the time it’s ready to go in the kiln, you’ve lost your image. Another major difference between this and stained glass is that you’re working a lot on faith and trust in the sense that as you do this, you see less. At some point, you just got to take some chances. When you’re painting on glass in general in stained glass you’ve got your color all there. You’re painting it. You can see exactly what you’re doing. The more you paint, the more you see. In this, the more you put on there, the less you see.

Narrator: The fusing technique brings a whole new way of thinking to the process.

Tim Carey: What I really love about it is that, in essence, it forces you to let go of your own control. It forces you to trust nature and to trust whatever it is that happens while you’re not in total control. Because there’s also this force of gravity and heat that’s working in the kiln, there’s movement that happens that you can’t plan or predict. But just like you can’t plan or predict where a tree branch is going to grow, it’s just nature. Allowing nature to take over and be part of the process is great, and it’s very rewarding and fulfilling.

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