Curator of Stained Glass
Light streaming through panes of colored glass: jewel tones, geometric shapes, stories of Jesus. It’s an art form that changes with every small movement of the sun and generates strong emotions.
For Tim Brown, owner of Artistic Glass Studio in Edmond, glass is fascinating, even though it breaks. “Expect breaks,” Tim said with a laugh. “My workshop is full of broken pieces.”
He also has art “pieces” of beautiful stained, painted, and engraved glass all over the world. His resume includes notable churches, museums, Hard Rock Café windows, and the Oklahoma State Capitol.
“I Just Like Glass”
For 40 years, Tim has made a career of creating, repairing, and restoring decorative glass. Tim’s entry into the glass field was a fortuitous summer job in a shop in 1984. During training, he was given a week-long class on stained-glass basics, and loved it.
“Glass is so versatile. Besides stained glass, I enjoy painting glass, blowing glass and working with a torch to make beads and marbles the old-fashioned way,” Tim said. “I just like glass.”
According to Tim, Edmond has more stained glass than most people realize, especially in private homes, but his current project is more visible. The First United Methodist Church is restoring its windows from the 1920s. The windows are remarkably undamaged, but the window fittings are aging and starting to leak. The congregation raised money through organ recitals to hire Tim for the job. Working on a few panels at a time, it will take Tim several years to complete the project.
A Dying Craft
Tim’s jobs keep growing bigger as the number of glass experts grows smaller. “It’s a dying art, in a way,” Tim said. “Companies with centuries of experience have recently closed, including the oldest glass blowing company in the United States and the last glass manufacturer in the United Kingdom. Glass is fixable, repairable, and worth saving–but it’s getting harder to replace historic glass.”
Restoring glass windows intrigues Tim, because each piece reveals intricacies about the glazer or the painter. He finds it satisfying to try to “get in the head” of each creator, particularly when he’s been commissioned for new works in the style of the best-known designers, like Frank Lloyd Wright or Louis Comfort Tiffany.
A Capitol Job
One of Tim’s most significant projects is his recurring work with the Oklahoma State Capitol’s stained glass. His first encounter was in 1991, when a piece fell from the ceiling. Next, Tim painted the state seal when the glass dome was added to the state capitol. Most recently, Tim was hired to clean and repair the building’s decorative glass, some which was “hanging on by a thread” after a century of gravity.
It took a team of 26 people, including his wife, Rebecca, who worked two-and-a-half years up in the Capitol attic. The project was complicated by COVID-19, which required separation and multiple shifts. “It was really a four-year job, but we had a hard deadline to meet, so we did. We streamlined a system of photographing, numbering, and storing every piece of glass so it could be reassembled exactly. Luckily, I’m good at puzzles,” Tim said.
Everyone was surprised by the brightness of the colors shining through the Capitol’s glass, where 100 years of dust had settled, blocking most of the sunlight. “There’s nothing like working months on a project, and then standing back to see the light shine through, in the very place it’s going to stay for another 100 years,” Tim said.
Visit ArtisticGlassStudio.com to learn more.