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Commissioning a Stained Glass Window

Before commissioning a new stained glass window, serious thought should be given to the architectural setting for the intended window, the lighting conditions of the location and the relationship of the new window to the existing glazing of the building. The more carefully the initial brief is prepared, the more satisfactory will be the end result. For church windows, the advice of the appropriate authorities should be sought at the outset. An Index of work by Fellows and Associates of the Society is sent to each Diocesan Advisory Committee, which gives details of locations and includes a brief statement by each one about their work.

The BSMGP is opposed to artistic 'competitions' in which several artists are invited to submit designs but are not repaid for the intellectual effort involved in the preparation of a design. Clients are advised to select a 'short list' of stained glass artists whose work most closely matches their requirement; all members of the BSMGP will happily supply slides or photographs of earlier commissions to help in the task of selection. Work of some of our Associates and Fellows appears in the Portfolios section on this website. It is also advisable to see examples of an artist's work in situ.

Additionally two illustrated registers of stained glass artists, one juried and one self-registering, are held at the Crafts Council, 44a Pentonville Rd, London N1 9HF. Many regional Arts Boards also hold details and images of work. For engraved glass, particularly suitable for an internal screen or door panel, the Guild of Glass Engravers can provide a list of glass engravers specializing in architectural commissions. Contact: The Secretary, tel: 020 8446 4050, email: enquiries @ gge.org.uk.

Commissioning a stained glass window, screen or lamp involves entering into a contract with the designer/maker. It is therefore important that both client and maker know exactly what is involved. The price of the work should be established. The materials used in the making of a window, especially the glass itself, can be expensive and the possibility of commissioning a well-designed leaded light should not be ignored. The maker will need to know the budget for the work and will provide an estimate, and may require a down payment before beginning work and perhaps payment by instalments, depending upon the cost of the materials involved.

The designer will prepare a preliminary design, according to the client's brief. The design should indicate the nature of the construction and the position of any ferramenta or physical support. This design should be as detailed as possible. It may be accompanied by samples of the proposed glasses. The client must be prepared to recompense an artist for design(s) prepared according to a brief, whether or not it proceeds to execution. The copyright in all cases remains the property of the artist.

The arrangements for the execution of the commission must also be satisfactorily established, including those for installation. If necessary, the advice of an architect should be sought; for church commissions, the architect responsible for the church should be involved from the outset. If the window is to be sited in an exposed position or in an area where vandalism is known to be a problem, protective measures should be considered.

Another approach for churches is to reuse an historic window saved from a redundant church. The London Stained Glass repository is the charitable organization which administers this scheme. The cost of moving glass to its new site, of any necessary repair or conservation and of fitting is borne by the recipient, who usually makes a donation to the repository. If any repair or modification of the panels is necessary the Trustees can offer advice about competent craftsmen and they require artist drawings of what is intended. The Secretary of the Trust can be contacted at Glaziers Hall, 9 Montague Close, London Bridge SE1 9DD; telephone 0207 403 3300.

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