Thursday, August 14, 2014

Stained Glass Windows for St. Edward High School Chapel

Henninger's was contacted by St. Edward High School in Lakewood, OH to beautify their school Chapel with stained glass windows.  The Chapel's large clear windows on both sides of the Chapel looked onto a busy street and a parking lot and the school administration felt that stained glass could block the view to the street and the adjoining parking lot while creating a more serene, prayerful place...a space more appropriate for a school Chapel.

Meetings between school officials and Henninger's resulted in the conclusion that the two large windows on each side of the sanctuary should be the first priority with the subjects for the window being Mary and Joseph.  It was decided that the depiction of Mary would be Our Lady of Sorrows, for whom the Brothers of the Holy Cross hold a special devotion and that St. Joseph would be depicted as a guiding father with a teenage Jesus, appropriate for the all boys high school founded by the Brothers of the Holy Cross.

After some color selection for the glass and working through various designs, the final drawing for each window was approved incorporating the idea of movement into the glass to tie all of the glass in the chapel together with the depictions of Mary & Joseph that stayed within the school's mission.  With the sizes finalized, the colors selected, and the glass ordered, the artists at Henninger's went to work on fabricating the windows for the Chapel.
As the first step, Henninger's artists laid out the windows in real-size on the wall by drawing the figures and the shapes of the windows to allow them to cut and paint the glass in the correct sizes.  This process allows the artist to get a sense of the figures in their actual size to work out the specifics of the folds of clothing, the posture of the figures, and the spacing between the subjects.  In a wonderful gesture, the officials at the high school asked if the face of St. Joseph could be modeled after a longtime Brother, who had served at the school in different capacities for nearly 5 decades.  Henninger's was able to draw St. Joseph's face based on old pictures of the Brother and - with the design portion nearly complete - was able to move onto cutting glass.

The glass was laid out on the real-size drawings and cut to size by the stained glass artists, who then moved onto the painting portion, where the figures were brought to life on the glass.

The windows were then built, leaded, cemented, and fitted with bars to strengthen all of the panes of glass before they would make their way into place in the school Chapel.  While the windows were strengthening in Henninger's warehouse, our carpenters went to work building the frames for the Stained Glass panels.  Due to some structural aspects of the window openings, Henninger's carpenters built trim and molding to match the wood in the Chapel as well as to conceal structural steel beams that passed directly through the middle of the large windows on each side of the Sanctuary.  Once all of the rough cutting and staining was done on the frames, and the trim-work and moldings were complete, the Stained Glass was strong enough for installation, so the installation crew went to the Chapel to erect the scaffolding necessary to install the frames and the finished Stained Glass panels.

Once on site, Henninger's crew began to build the frames and move the Stained Glass panels into place up the scaffolding, starting with the upper portions of the St. Joseph side first:

Once the St. Joseph window was in place, the crew went to work on installing the Mary panels on the other side of the Sanctuary:

Once both windows were in place, the crew went to work installing all of the custom trim-work and molding that had been fabricated to fit the space and match the wood already in place in the Chapel.  Once complete, the windows were finished, immediately and completely transforming the environment with prayerful images and soft colors that diffused the activity behind the window and providing a serene space.

With Phase I of the Stained Glass project complete, the sanctuary and the space have been transformed by the presence of the Stained Glass windows, generating more excitement for the Stained Glass that will be fabricated to fill the space behind the crucifix as well as the other windows that will depict various Brothers of the Holy Cross in a style that will match the new windows in the Sanctuary.

The project was a tremendous example of the collaboration between the school and Henninger's artists and craftsmen as the school year begins with the school Chapel transformed into what was imagined for it to be, leading St. Edward High School President Jim Kubacki to write this in appreciation for the collaboration and in anticipation for the rest of the project to be completed:
I just want to thank you and your team for the wonderful stained glass we now have in our Holy Family Chapel.  It is stunning. You have been terrific collaborators as we have tried to develop the vison and message and unify the look for the chapel.  It clearly is Holy Cross and St. Eds as well as great art. Thank you for all your efforts.  I look forward to the day when it is completed.  The Chapel will be our jewel and a daily reminder of why St. Edward High School exists!  Thanks again.

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