Ross School - Senior Project 2008-09

Student: Stephanie Madison

Mentor: Chris Engel

Title: No Pane. No Gain.


This is probably the last project anyone ever expected me to do. Throughout High School, IÕve never been an ŅartÓ student. After discovering that I was going to be doing an art project, even I was shocked. Ever since ninth grade I always envisioned myself doing a science project. Stained glass allowed me to explore art in a completely different way. My goals were to learn the techniques of stained glass making, and successfully create two stained glass pieces. This form of art makes me feel accomplished as an artist even though I probably canÕt even draw a realistic looking tree. I was really proud of myself with my time management. I stayed on top of my work and had a schedule that I stuck to which helped me immensely. I experienced a lot of difficulties cutting glass since I chose pieces that were a little advanced for a novice stained glass artist. In the end, IÕm happy I chose the challenging pieces because it gave me a greater sense of accomplishment. Had I known what stained glass making would have entailed, I probably would have bought stock in Band-Aid and Bounty, but I couldnÕt be happier with the project I chose and am glad that I got to explore yet another field during my time at Ross.


Exodus at Sunset

17 x 11inches

Glass, lead, solder.



20 x 24 inches

Glass, zinc, solder


For my project, I decided to do stained glass. This wasnÕt always the case as I had proposed a science project as of late May junior year. After seeing Mr. Chris on the ferry coming back from Boston, we discovered that it was possible for me to do a stained glass senior project and instantly decided to be my mentor.         

After getting back to school in September, we worked on finalizing a rubric for my project. The project was going to consist of two stained glass pieces and a one-page artists statement. My original plan was going to be to make one panel for the Retreat and another panel for Taylor MonteÕs senior project. After playing phone tag with The Retreat for a few days, rumor had it that The Retreat wasnÕt doing too well and was going through some tough times. For fear of a wasted piece, I decided to make my second panel for the Ross School.

I had a clear deadline for my first project, which was November 7th, which was the date of TaylorÕs fundraiser. I drew up a sketch of a giraffe and elephant in front of a large sun. Much to my dismay, this sketch was going to be my final sketch for this piece. My second piece was going to be the Ross spiral but I didnÕt have enough luck with that one. I drew so many different sketches for the one little spiral because it was such a difficult piece to draw. Romany and I finally settled on a reasonable spiral and I started the piece.

My process for this project was going to be a heavy focus on the techniques and skills needed for constructing a panel. The step-by-step process goes as follows:

First, a pattern is needed, a design that doesnÕt involve harsh lines or extremely detailed shapes (not for a novice anyway). After the pattern is finalized, itÕs time to pick out glass and cut the pattern out. Cutting the pattern out is one of the more important steps throughout this process. The pattern shears will actually trim the paper while cutting the shape out allowing enough room for solder and foil to expand the piece and keeps the pattern the same dimension as originally planned. After the pattern is cut and the glass is chosen, itÕs time to cut glass. There are many different ways of getting the glass to the desired size. Whether it be cutting, grinding, grozing, or breaking, there is always a way to get the glass to the original shape. It might have to be a combination of 1, 2, even 3 of these different methods, but IÕve learned that there always is a way.

After the glass is all cut, a large chunk of the work is out of the way. Lay the cut glass over the pattern and see how well it fits. If adjustments need to be made, thatÕs okay. One thing I learned is that no one sees how off the cuts might be from the pattern; all they see is the final product. Now comes the building part.

Copper foil is the only thing that solder will stick to on the glass which is why this is such a crucial step. The copper foil is put around every edge of glass and pressed down as tight and neatly as possible. Tack the glass down on every edge so it doesnÕt move and begin to solder. A little solder to attach all the seams is all thatÕs needed first. Staying on one section too long can heat the glass up to ridiculous amounts and actually crack it. After all is tacked, go back over each line and put solder down so all of the copper foil is covered. After every line is covered with a thin line of solder, a slight bead can be added to the lines to add a little depth to the piece. Although the type of frame can vary from piece to piece, the next step is generally slipping the glass into the grooves of the frame and soldering the frame on. After that, just add some hooks and the piece is ready to be hung!

I learned so many skills throughout this project, some I still canÕt believe. First off, I learned how to successfully make a stained glass panel from beginning to end; drawing to framing. Within this large task of creating a panel were tens of other skills I learned as well. I also learned how to keep myself on a logistical time schedule and how to react when things donÕt always go as planned.

Although I learned a lot of skills, I also encountered challenges. Not having a permanent studio to work in was really a challenge. There was no where I could resort to when I just felt like working so I had to plan when I was going to work a day before. I also didnÕt have an unlimited amount of glass so I really had to try hard and get things right the first time.

All in all, IÕm really happy the way I worked over the course of Senior Project. After seeing 8 years of them, I think I had a good insight as to what was good and what was bad which is what I think lead me to learn time management instead of having it be a challenge. I also learned to pick something that would hold my interest for four months and IÕm glad it did otherwise I donÕt know what I would have done!

Works Consulted


Altet, Xavier Barral I. Stained Glass: Masterpieces of the Modern Era. Ed. Andrˇs

Gamboa. New York: Thams & Hudson Ltd, 2007.

Helgad—ttir, Gerdur. Untitled. Church of Sk‡holt.

Hopper, Edward. Nighthawks. Art Institute of Chigago, Chicago.

Manet, Edouard. A Bar at the Folies-Bergeres. Courtauld Institute Galleries, London.

Modolo, Giuseppe. Madonna and Child.

Unknown. Scenes from the Passion of Saint Vincent of Saragossa and the History of His Relics. Church of St. Germain-des-Prˇs, Paris.

Unknown. Untitled. St. Denis Cathedral, Paris.

Wright, Frank LLoyd. Stained Glass Window. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Community Member (Details)

Romany Kramoris

Stained glass artist/retail store owner