Last Monday, Deacon Mike, Rosy, and I went to the home and studio of Dirk Maes. Dirk is the son of the artist who made our original stained glass windows in the church. Dirk learned the art of crafting stained glass from his father, and has taken on the project of making the stained glass for the front of our new narthex. The original six panels will be incorporated into a design of 22 panels. The design was inspired by some original drawings from Dirk’s father. Like the original panels, these are a special kind of stained glass called dalle de verre; it is about an inch thick and is very heavy. Dirk showed us many shelves of this glass, in a wide variety of colors. He showed us the diamond-bladed saw with which he cuts the glass into the various shapes called for by the design. He demonstrated the special technique he uses to put facets in the glass. He even let us put some of the pieces into their proper place in one of the window panes.
My visit with Dirk was not only interesting, informative, and entertaining; it was also a way for me to get directly in touch with the artistry and craftsmanship that are going into this major aspect of our narthex. Every piece of glass is chosen and shaped according to the artist’s specifications. The pieces are joined together by a special kind of epoxy. Everything is done with the kind of deliberation and care that a true artist must have.
What was the inspiration of the design? Here are the words of the designer, Kaj:
My inspiration for this project comes from my friend [Dirk] asking for help.
Secondly, it was his father’s vision and design that was so inspiring.
Third, it was the pure enlightenment that guided my path.
By studying the original drawings and notes, I was given a clear vision of where the design was to go; it had movement and grandeur and a timeless aspect to inspire.
My hope was to honor the original design and designer, to carry it through its spark, its spirit, to invite imagination and enjoyment to others.