Jeff Zumwalt stares up at a 12-foot stained glass window. Sunlight streams through the iridescent rays of light depicted. Different colors of glass are molded together to form Jesus, standing in front of an image of the world, his arms spread wide open.
Jeff Zumwalt stares up at a 12-foot stained glass window.
Sunlight streams through the iridescent rays of light depicted. Different colors of glass are molded together to form Jesus, standing in front of an image of the world, his arms spread wide open.
In the hallway of the Our Savior Lutheran Church in Camdenton, Mo., is another scene of him. This one portrays his resurrection from a supernova.
Colorful swirls make up the panes of glass. Jesus, in the center, is in black and white.
“It’s a little abstract,” Zumwalt said as he traced the painted face with his fingertips.
It took more than a week for fellow stained glass artist Joe Besche to pick out the glass and arrange it just right to get the look he wanted.
The two laid the glass by hand, as they do with all their work before soldering the pieces together to form the image.
In the thousand years stained glass has been around, little has changed, Zumwalt said.
The techniques and tools have gotten a little better, he explained, but it’s pretty much the same art form: Colored glass is held together by strips of lead that form images and scenes.
The glass has become better and of more consistent quality. So have colors, with a range of blues and greens to yellows and a glass made with real gold.
There’s been advancement in tools. Hammers and chisels to score and cut glass have been replaced by wet tile saws.
But the work is still done by hand.
Their favorite commissioned windows are religious. The windows are larger and a lot more people have the chance to see it.
It’s the difference between a 3-foot-by-4-foot window in a home and a 7-foot-by-9-foot window, Besche said.
And because of the size, the window can be admired how it should, standing 10 maybe 15 feet back, Zumwalt added.
And through the lifetime of the stained glass window, the thousands that pass through a church can admire the scene versus a hundred walking through a home, Zumwalt said.
It’s another advancement the art has made over the years- horizontal bars reinforce the image. Glass on the outside protects the stained glass from the elements.
The earliest stained glass windows lasted a hundred plus years, more if they were well cared for, Zumwalt said. The way we make them now, they’re protected from moisture seeping in and causing the glass to bow. Now, they can last indefinitely.
To create a piece to last that long takes time.
Besche estimates that it takes an hour from start to finish for one piece of glass.
The center pane on the 12-foot window at Our Savior Lutheran Church has more than 100 pieces of glass making up the robe.
Zumwalt said they usually get carried away with what they’re doing. The image is sometime a little overzealous.
But, if it’s going to be admired by thousands, potentially forever, they figure it’s OK.
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