Shining Light Stained Glass

Shining Light Stained Glass

Wayne Butler

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The History Behind Shining Light Stained Glass

I did not start making stained glass because I was taken by the craft and beauty of the objects you could make, but rather out of my desire to make my wife, Suzanne, an unusual Christmas present.  We were married in 1972, right out of college, and had our first child in 1974.

Christmas was approaching in 1973 and I wanted to give Suzanne a special Christmas present. She was pregnant with our first child and clothes were just not an option. Finances were very tight but I really wanted to buy her something special. We were living in a very small house in Reisterstown Maryland at the time and did not have much money to fix it up.  Suzanne really did not like the old kitchen light so I thought that a new lamp might just be the right present if I could find one we could afford.

I was in a hobby store and found a stained glass lamp kit that fit our color scheme well and it was the right price.  The kit contained all the pieces pre-cut, lead came, solder and instructions.  I decided to buy it.  After all, I thought I was pretty handy and did not think it would be much trouble to put it together after Christmas. It would be kind of like putting a puzzle tighter only with lead and solder.

I got the lamp together and it was not very hard.  In fact, I had a lot of fun doing it.  Suzanne was pleased with the lamp and we proudly hung it up in our kitchen.  After it was hung I kept thinking that it would be a lot less expensive to buy glass and cut it yourself. Problem was, I did  not know how to cut glass or where to purchase glass and supplies.  You have to remember that this before the internet.  Personal computers and the internet were a few years away.

Several years later Suzanne was looking at a flyer for the Adult Education Program in Carroll County Maryland.  Carroll County was offering an evening class in stained glass.  The class was run by Jack Huwig and his wife Sis. Jack and Sis owned a part-time business called Heirloom Creations where Jack made anything you could imagine out of stained glass and sold supplies.   

The class lasted ten weeks and I will always remember the very first evening. We were set up in a lab in South Carroll High School.  Jack introduced himself and Sis then told us that he would teach us everything he knew about stained glass.  After that it was up to us to practice what he taught us.  I believe that Jack did teach us everything he knew in those ten weeks from the history of stained glass, how glass is made, and every technique he used to cut, assemble and display stained glass.  I completed the class in 1980 and have been practicing what Jack taught me every since.