Most of my windows are made on commission and I aim to make this an enjoyable process for everyone concerned. One of the most enriching elements of my work is that of developing creative relationships. This nourishes the research and contemplation that, in turn, lead to the translation of a given theme into an appropriate finished window, with which the viewer can engage and return to for reflection, discovery and enjoyment.
My starting point is always to visit the building in question and meet those interested in commissioning a window. There is normally no charge for this, unless the journey is a particularly long one! At this stage I aim to get a feel for the building and the window space – and to discuss ideas for themes. I can also give a rough idea of the total cost of the work. This will obviously depend upon factors such as complexity of design, scale and ease of installation.
If there is agreement that I should continue with the process and produce a design proposal, a fee will be payable, which will become part of the total cost if the commission goes ahead. The design fee is not prohibitive; the working relationship depends to a great extent on goodwill on both sides. In any event, I retain copyright in all design work.
Discussions, photographs, sketches and words gleaned during these visits provide rich source material for the design work that follows.
The design proposal will normally be a 1:10 or 1:5 scale watercolour, supported by glass samples. I always bring these to a meeting myself, so that there is plenty of opportunity for discussion and questions. At this point I will be able to give the price for the completed work, including installation; and to agree the terms for the commission. This is normally quite straightforward; the early meetings help to establish a good working relationship, which depends upon trust and confidence between the client and myself. I have a vested interest in getting this right!
If the design is accepted, I normally ask for about one third of the total cost to be paid as soon as there has been an exchange of letters (for fairly small commissions) or a written contract agreed (larger projects). This sum covers the design work already undertaken, together with the cost of the materials for the window. A second instalment will usually be payable when I confirm that the making of the window is at the halfway stage, with the final payment due on completion ie when I fit the window. The written agreement or contract covers matters such as timescale, provision of access equipment if necessary and advice on maintenance of the finished work.
The making of a new stained glass window takes place in my studio near Hay on Wye. The work may take a few weeks, or several months, depending on the size and complexity of the work. Many processes are involved, including the scaling up of the design, selecting and cutting the mouthblown coloured glass, painting and firing or acid-etching additional detail and texture, assembling the pieces with lead cames (H-shaped strips), soldering, weather-proofing, cleaning and polishing. The full sequence runs to about 35 processes! Fortunately, I enjoy them all.
When a new stained glass window is proposed for a church, various permissions have to be obtained, including support from the parochial church council, advice from the Diocesan Advisory Committee – and a faculty from the chancellor for the diocese (the Bishop’s legal representative). This is not usually a complicated process, but it can take a little time and has to be approached with patience and sensitivity at each stage. It is always important to try to reach a consensus within the parish in the early stages. I am always happy to advise on and help with this process.