Preserving a Vanishing Art: Beyer Studio's Stained Glass Windows
One of the most frequent things viewers of my photos of abandoned or endangered churches lament on is the fate of the stained glass. There is a not entirely incorrect belief that stained-glass making is a vanishing art. While it is certainly true that far fewer artisans in the trade exist now than a century ago, there are still American studios that specialize in the creation, restoration, and maintenance of stained-glass windows. The 13,200-square-foot Beyer Studio in Germantown, PA is such a place, where visitors can not only peruse and purchase new or restored windows, frames, and light boxes, but also watch as they are created.
Craftspeople at the workshop work on every part of the process, which begins with the planning and drafting of beautiful designs called cartoons, then cutting and placing segments of glass on the design in a manner reminiscent of a jigsaw puzzle and decorating them with enamel paint, and finally holding the glass together with pieces of lead.
Beyer Studio, which was founded by Joe and Rita Beyer in 1980 after they were laid off from another studio a week before their wedding. Over the years their business grew to employ 20 staff (including the owners), most of whom are graduates from art programs in the Philadelphia area. Beyer Studio also started the Stained Glass Window Restoration Project, which has rescued stained glass windows from a number of vacant churches I’ve visited, including Most Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, and helped place them in new churches and museums.
Confronting the loss of historic structures can be a depressing subject, particularly when contemplating the loss of artwork and craftsmanship that can never be replaced. Beyer Studio is a beacon of hope, showing that success can be found not only in saving and maintaining artwork but also in providing employment for talented artists who skillfully produce masterful new designs. If you’d like to see more of Beyer Studio’s work, you can do so on their website at https://www.beyerstudio.com/index.html and perhaps even arrange a visit. Like a ray of sunshine in the darkened remains of an abandoned church’s sanctuary, Beyer Studios shows there is hope even in an area sometimes associated with loss.
Matthew Christopher PA Philadelphia Sep 29, 2023 Architecture Arts Visual Arts
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Matthew Christopher Sep 29, 2023
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