Lining the storefront on Euclid Avenue in the Central West End are samples portraying flowers, females and other traditional images through the colorful stained glass work. Look above and you’ll find Tiffany-style lamps hanging all around. You can also observe craftsman in the midst of making the stained glass right in the store.
Gary Harris, along with his business partner, Jerry Mowery, founded Art Glass Unlimited in 1976 after learning the tricks of the trade from Harris’ family business that did stained glass work, as well. Gary handles the sales while Jerry lends his artistic abilities to create the beautiful works of art. “Jerry is the true artist,” Gary chuckles. “I’m just an art critic.”
Jerry’s favorite part of the process is the painting work, especially the figures often seen in the designs of church windows. “It’s a little more specialized,” Jerry says. “We are one of the few companies in the city that can offer that type of work for a full-scale church.”
The process of making these handmade works of art can take five to six weeks, starting with the client deciding the design of their glass art. Jerry says each client’s approach to choosing his or her custom design is different. Art Glass Unlimited can help in the selection process by showing clients design books of past work or displays in the store. After the design is chosen, a small-scale sketch is created to determine the logistics, and is later followed by a full-size layout of the final design.
Once a design is finalized, the types of glass available are discussed, such as color or opalescent glass, bevels, jewels, etc. The pattern is then cut into the different shapes and later the glass itself. The next step is to piece everything together. “It’s like putting a puzzle together,” Jerry says. The window gets glazed with lead to make it solid and is then waterproofed. The final step is to install the window.
Residential popularity fluctuates, but church orders keep the business busy. When they do receive a home order, Jerry says it is often for the entryway, bathrooms, skylights, kitchen windows, wine cellars and entertainment rooms. Stained glass windows can add color and a unique quality to the house. “Stained glass windows are like a beautiful painting,” Gary says. “And if the windows are constructed properly they can last indefinitely.”
Jerry says Art Glass Unlimited is one of the few companies in the city to offer this sort of work themselves, rather than ordering it out. Just like the works they create, Art Glass Unlimited is proving they’re timeless.