Photographs by Bob Rozycki
Throughout its thousand-year history, stained glass has evoked visions of ornate, jewel-colored windows featuring religious stories and motifs in cathedrals and churches around the world.
Color and pattern enrich all of our lives and stained glass, with its stirring designs and intricate craftsmanship, has a special power to impart emotional resonance.
New techniques in the craft now make it possible to bring this timeless craft into today’s homes.
Traditional stained glass is colored by adding metallic salts during its manufacture. The densely colored glass is then crafted into windows where small pieces are arranged to form intricate patterns or pictures held together by strips of lead.
The end result is beautiful, but can block some degree of light.
Today there is a new process, stained glass overlay, which produces gorgeous designs that still allow the full transmission of light while preserving privacy. The finished product offers the look and feel of traditional stained glass with all of the strength and security of safety glass.
Stained glass designer Richard Dymes, owner of Visions in Glass in Bedford Hills, uses stained glass overlay to achieve the results his clients want. Stained glass overlay, or SGO, is a unique process that combines multiple materials, including glass, lead, multilayered polyester film and bevels to form a solid piece of decorative art glass.
“Each piece that comes from my shop is custom designed to meet the needs and desires of our individual customers,” Dymes says. “All can be installed over, or in place of, existing glass.”
Dymes learned his craft from his uncles.
“They were hobbyists, but highly skilled,” he says. “After learning the art, I worked in the corporate world for a while and then left it to do something I really wanted to do – the making of stained glass.”
Dymes says his craft is “creative, artistic and long-lasting. I derive a lot of satisfaction from working with my customers to produce beautiful designs that also fulfill practical needs, such as privacy screening. Visions in Glass offers a full range of custom and standard designs for every room and for windows of every size and shape.”
“We go from custom beveled entries and elegant master baths to kitchen cabinets, domed ceilings, windows, doors and sidelights, baths, showers and spas, room dividers, ceiling panels, mirrors, window shades and much more,” he says. “Our unique seamless construction allows for greater design freedom and eliminates the need for support rods and cumbersome installation. With beautiful bevels and over 300 different colors and textures, we can create the perfect design solution for our clients.”
Dymes says most of his custom creations get started when a client comes in with an idea.
“They may get the concept from a book, magazine or a friend’s home,” he says. “Much of what I do is for privacy, especially in bathrooms.”
Once an idea is born, he says, he will produce a full scale drawing in black and white.
“We then get down to the task of selecting glass and colors, which are over-layered onto the glass with Mylar film.”
Designs are as varied as the client’s imagination and can incorporate an endless array of motifs, from floral to landscapes, from Art Deco to decorated geometrics.
Dymes takes an interactive approach with his customers, talking to them throughout the process.
“We may go through several full-scale drawings before we get exactly what they want,” he says. “It’s up to us to interpret what the customer wants, because a lot of times they really aren’t certain. They just know they want ‘something,’ and we have to give them the guidance they need.”
For example, Dymes will ask his clients what their first requirement is. “Is it privacy? Or is just decorative? Is it for display or for something else?
Dymes says stained glass overlay doors with sidelights are very popular.
“Many people want to see out and not have people see in, and we can achieve this result by creating a peephole in a strategic spot.”
Projects like this take six to eight weeks from inception to completion and installation.
In addition to homeowners, Visions in Glass also serves institutional clients, including churches.
“For example we installed seven stained glass windows at Mount St. Mary College in Newburgh,” he says. “Each of the windows told a story and was elaborate and extremely detailed.”
Dymes works on both new and existing construction.
“We are very flexible in what we do and work with both homeowners and builders.”
Many of these want windows with lots of clear glass as a major design element.
“The clear glass can be accented with floral elements, Art Deco design or geometrics,” he says. “Today, people want light coming into their homes while still preserving privacy.”
“Extremely satisfying” is the way Dymes describes his work.
“I enjoy starting with just a rough idea and bringing it to beautiful life. And I love it when my married clients, who may have had mixed feelings along the way, will turn to one another after their first look at their new installation and say, ‘We were right. It was worth it.’”
For more information, call (914) 244-3240 or visit visionsinglass.net.