We like t say that our studios are where light learns to speak. I hope to show you why we say it.
Today I am going to speak about Stained Glass. Some call stained glass the handmaiden of Architecture. Today I will tell you a little about the history of stained glass, a little about its close connection to architecture and a lot about our studio and its place in the history of American Stained Glass. Along the way I will show you how a stained glass window is designed and fabricated. As an art form stained glass is over 1,000 years old. The oldest fragments of stained glass come from about the year 300. By the middle ages it was well developed and in many ways became the bible for the common man, As most were illiterate, the pictures in the windows became the teaching tools for the monks and priests. The earliest windows were quite small for two main reasons, glass was precious, and the walls of the churches were mostly needed to support the roof. They were weakened by too large a window opening. But as the churches grew, the builders discovered ways to support the roofs and open up the wall. Buttresses (shown here) support the roof and the wall becomes needed only to enclose the interior.
The gothic cathedral developed the idea of flying buttresses, opening even more of the wall space for large glass windows. This is the apse end of the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. An imposing architectural structure.
Here we have a part of one of the large windows at Notre Dame. Multiple medallions with stories of the bible are stacked one over the other in a symphony of color.
The multiple theme of stacked medallions was very popular in the Middle ages. Here is a close up of some from the famed San Chapelle, also in Paris.
And here is the interior of San Chapelle. Virtual walls of glass surround the congregation. There are over 1,000 figure medallions in the windows here. This style window was the highpoint of stained glass in the Middle Ages and the most popular art form of the period. Hint: Remember about this type of window. Now lets jump to stained glass in America and at the same time learn something about our studio.
We will begin by telling you a little about our studio. Today our studio, Willet Hauser Architectural Glass, Inc. is the most well know of American Stained Glass studios. We are known for our longevity and for our ability in designing and fabricating some of the finest stained glass creations in the United States.
We are a large organization as stained glass studios go, with over 70 employees in two studio locations.
The Philadelphia studio founded by the Willet family was created to specialize in the design and fabrication of fine stained glass windows. The window shown here is one of nine Willet windows in the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.
William Willet was an American portrait painter, muralist, stained glass designer, studio owner and writer. He studied under the artist William Merritt Chase, at the Tradesmen&apos;s Institute in New York City and in France and England. As a portrait painter, William made portraits for many prominent people including President William McKinley and John Jacob Aster among others. He assisted the artist and designer John La Farge and for a time he served as art director of the La Farge studio, which did interiors, mosiacs, and stained glass..
A good example of the artistic ability of William Willet is shown in his portrait of Leta Sullivan Hoffman, daughter of a prominent Philadelphia family. According to a 1922 article in Suburban & Wayne Times, Leta was one of the most beautiful and popular girls in Philadelphia society. http://www.handmadeinpa.net/2012/12/a-storied-window-in-stained-glass/
In 1896 he married Anne Lee, also an artist, and In 1897 the couple moved to Pittsburgh, where William served until 1898 as art director of Ludwig Grosse&apos;s stained glass firm. Both William and Anne Lee were early proponent of the Gothic Revival that was occuring in architecture and stained glass and were active in the &quot;Early School&quot; of American stained glass. in 1898 William, with Anne Lee as his partner, founded the Willet Stained Glass and Decorating Company in Pittsburgh.
Inspired by European work and the Pre-Raphaelites, the Willets, and William most strongly, rebelled against the popular American School of stained glass — a movement established by Louis Comfort Tiffany and John La Farge. It was identified by its use of American opalescent glass which was popular at the turn of the century. Instead, William was enamored with the medieval technique of transparent, mouth blown antique glass. He lectured and wrote constantly on the subject. Willet, and fellow artists Otto Heinigke and Harry E. Goodhue, are credited with renewing America&apos;s interest in traditional medieval materials, techniques, and stained glass. Williams early work in Pittsburgh caught the attention of the famed Neo-Gothic architect Ralph Adams Cram who would later serve as a patron for many of the Willet&apos;s works. In the early 1900’s William and Anne Lee moved their family and their studio back to Philadelphia.
In 1910 Willet Studios won the commission for the Great Sanctuary Window in the Cadet Chapel at the United States Military Academy at West Point. It is called a chapel but the Cathedral like building has a seating capacity of 1,500. The window, entitled Duty, Honor, Country is composed of seven lancets and measures 34 feet wide by 50 feet tall. At the time, the competition for this project was recognized as one of the most memorable art commissions ever held in the United States. Designs submitted to the selection jury were displayed for several weeks at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. To win the commission Willet beat out the famed Louis Comfort Tiffany and many other accomplished designers of the day.
Following the window’s completion, the project for the design and fabrication of the remaining large entrance window (shown here) and all of the nave clerestory and aisle windows was also awarded to the Willet studio. The commission, which spanned three generations of Willets over a period of sixty-six years, remains the longest continuing commission in the history of American stained glass.
The Willet studio was growing. Williams designs became popular among many of the church building architects of the early 1900’s Those, and the continuing project at West Point, put considerable pressure on William and Anne Lee. To help them with some of their projects, in 1912 they brought in a young artist recently graduated from the Philadelphia College of Art named George Gugert. George was to be a Willet artist until his death in 1958.
They also brought their young son, Henry Lee Willet into the studio while still in college at Princeton. They wanted Henry Lee to learn the business operation of the studio, as well as understand the artistic side. In 1921, at the age of 53 William Willet died. Henry Lee was still attending Princeton at the time. The main artist now became Anne Lee, assisted by George Gugert. Often overshadowed by her husband’s reputation, most clients did not realize how talented an artist she was in her own right. An early commission showed how well.
Remember this young lady? William had created this beautiful portrait of her. Unfortunately, a week after giving birth to her first child in 1919, she died unexpectedly of heart failure at the young age of 27. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Francis Sullivan, commissioned the Willet Studios to design and fabricate a window in her memory for Our Lady of Assumption church in Strafford, PA. But William had died before he could begin so the window was designed and executed by Anne Lee Willet.
The finished window is an outstanding example of Gothic Revival Art in America and highlights the often unknown artistry of Anne Lee. A note by her found in the Willet Hauser Architectural Glass archives hints at how beautiful Leta Sullivan Hoffman must have been, as her face became the face of the Virgin and her son, Albert, the image of the Christ child. The note reads, “The portrait of Leta Sullivan by William Willet was used for the Virgin. They brought the child from New York and I did him from life. “ The window was completed in 1922. Before the window was installed in the church, it was included in a traveling exhibition by the American Federation of the Arts which brought it to six national museums, including the Pennsylvania Museum at Memorial Hall, which later became the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Henry Lee and Anne Lee ran the studio together for a number of years. By 1930 mother and son had developed different ideas about how the studio should be run, Anne Lee wanted to continue in the Pre Raphaelite style of her husband, sometimes creating windows by using and copying Williams original designs and cartoons. The Gothic Revival in America, led by the prolific and successful architect, Ralph Adams Cram, had become extremely popular and many of the churches of the time were being designed in the true gothic style. Henry wanted to work more in the pure gothic style with Cram, and with other designers in other styles. Unfortunately, before he died, William and Cram had a falling out and he was no longer working with the Willet Studio. Anne Lee of course took her husband side when Henry Lee suggested they try to mend fences.
The popularity of the studio continued to grow and soon became one of the larger studios in the United States. Unfortunately, in 1930 mother and son went their separate ways when Anne Lee fired Henry. Henry Lee started his own studio, Henry Lee Willet Stained Glass Studios and his favorite designer George Gugert went with him. So for over three years there were two Willet Studios in Philadelphia, but in 1934 Anne Lee and Henry merged the studios again, Henry Lee was in charge and Anne Lee, now 64, retired.
In 1965, E. Crosby Willet, the son of Henry Lee Willet, became the third generation president of Willet Studios. Under Crosby’s leadership, Willet windows were created for many of the major churches and Cathedrals in the United States including the National Cathedral in Washington, DC and the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco.
The studio founded by my family was created to specialize in the repair and restoration of existing stained glass windows.
Emergencies and disasters happen all the time. They can range from fires, hurricanes and earthquakes to floods, tornadoes and vandalism. They happen to churches and to stained glass windows. Also, time takes its toll on the structure of a a window. My dad recognized this and after the 2nd world war rationing of materials etc.
We trained specialists to evaluate the condition of older or damaged windows.
In 1977 the Willet Studio was bought by the Hauser family and merged with the Hauser Art Glass Company of Winona, Minnesota, under the direction of Jim and Michael Hauser. It continues today as the Philadelphia studio of Willet Hauser Architectural Glass, Inc. Henry Lee continued with the studio until his death in 1983, Crosby Willet, now 84 continues to work with the studio and share his experience directing our artist designers and helping clients that desire new windows. Michael and I continue to run the overall company. The window behind us in this photograph is the main entrance window at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart here in Winona. It was made by our studios and given by the Hauser Family as a memorial to our parents who both attended the Cathedral. A little later I am going to show you how it was designed and fabricated.
Together we have created or restored windows for over 15,000 buildings in all 50 states and 14 foreign countries. This listing shows some of the more nationally known churches that have our windows.
The extensive legacy of Willet Hauser is shown in their creation of fine architectural windows in both Contemporary and Traditional styles of Leaded and Faceted stained glass.
We are especially well known for our ability to create the traditional window designs.
One of our larger recent projects completed for this cathedral sized church in Houston, Texas.
An excellent example of the ability of our artists to recreate the traditional styles of past ages that fit so well into the traditional architecture.
Remember the medallion windows of the high Middle Age cathedrals. We have made many of these highly detailed windows, Here are some fabricated in the 1940’s for the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta..
Of course we also design in more modern and contemporary styles. The window on the right is two of the four lancets of another Willet Hauser window in the National Cathedral depicting the journey of Lewis & Clark to the Northwest.
This church is an interesting combination of traditional styled architecture with more contemporary stained glass.
The glass used throughout this church is the handmade, mouth blown antique glass. This is the same glass used in all of our finest windows. This glass purposely has faults, lines, bubbles, striations that create highlights within each glass. The glasses shown here are unpainted.
A few other contemporary styled designs
This is located in a private home - My home. Note how the deliberate faults in the individual glass create the interesting textures and highlights that reflect the light differently at different times of the day or with differing amounts of daylight.
Remember this window.
It is a contemporary design style created by Charlie Lawrence. Charlie has had a long association with Willet Hauser. Among the many commissions he designed for us are three of our nine windows at the Washington DC National Episcopal Cathedral; a large faceted glass wall for the Smithsonian Associates’ Dining Room in Washington DC; and the forty-one windows for Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, Atlanta, GA. Which we saw earlier in this presentation. I am going to take a minute or two to describe how this window was created and the process we used. After a recent renovation that created this opening the cathedral commissioned Willet Hauser to create a window. Working with personnel at the Cathedral, we established the iconography and they liked one of the preliminary designs Charlie had created for one of the windows we made for the National Cathedral.
The first rendering, a very preliminary in-hose version, was created as a rough idea of how the window might appear, showing the position of the figures, their interaction and some indication of coloring. Only the designer and I saw this first rendering.
A more finished rendering was established, showing the exact size, shape and approximate color of every piece of glass. Of course, this is a watercolor rendering of paint and line on a piece of presentation board. It does not have the texture, depth of color nor transparency of glass. Upon presentation to the Cathedral it was enthusiastically approved.
After actual on-site measurements were established it was learned that the design shape was not accurate, so the design was reworked to fit the actual sizes of each of the glass areas. Stained glass is a collaborative art. In our studio we have trained artists at every step of the fabrication. Once the scaled design has been approved it goes to a specialist artist to create the cartoon, the full size pattern that indicates the exact size and shape of each of the panels, each of the individual glasses and the widths of the lead came dividers.
Adjustments were made, and three copies of the cartoon were created. At this point all of the divider bars and bracing bar positions are carefully noted and inserted in the accompanying notes, One copy, on thicker, carboard-like manila paper, was cut apart creating exact size patterns for each piece of glass.
A specialized artist/glass selectors pick the appropriate glass for each piece. In that the fine antique glasses vary even within the sheet, the selector also indicates exactly which part of the sheet is to be used.
An experienced glass cutter then uses the pattern and hand cuts the glass to the exact size and shape.
A main feature of this design is to highlight the beauty of the handmade, mouthblown glass, so the selection of the proper glass for each piece became very important. Unlike the middle ages, today we have thousands of glasses from which to choose to execute the design. Our glass selectors are specialist artists who are very familiar with this extensive palette. It is their job to chose the best glasses, by color, texture and value to turn the design rendering into a fine work of glass art. As the glasses are selected and cut, they are attached to a clear glass sheet with beeswax. This enables the selector to see if the glasses are compatible and to make changes if needed.
Using the original design for reference, an artist/glasspainter applies opaque black trace lines to delineate the design of the figures.
We begin to see the figures emerge from the brilliant color.
After the trace lines the glass/painter applies a matte, a more transparent paint to areas where it is intended to help control the light or model the features of the faces of the figures. It is similar to a wash in watercolor. The painted glasses are then kin fired to assure that the paint becomes a permanent part of the glass.
A finished, painted section, Now each piece must be carefully removed from the plate glass, and without disturbing the dust like paint, it is carefully put into the kiln. In firing, the kiln brings to glass to almost the melting point ---approximately 1200 degrees . What remains of the binder burns off, the ground glass and the iron oxide fuse with the surface of the stained glass. Done properly the paint is covered by a thin layer of glass. This whole procedure must be done so that the temperature rises slowly and cools slowly to avoid cracking the glass.
The window is then assembled with lead came. Lead came comes in flexible strips and appears to be a small I-Beam with a center heart and flanges to hold the edges of the glass.
The lead has to be soft to enable the Master Glazier to bend it around the different shapes of glass. A copy of the cartoon is placed on a wood board on a table. The glasses and the lead then follow the lines of the cartoon, securing the glass into place with nails holding the lead and glass at the edges of the panel. This assures that the panel does not move and everything is in proper alignment.
Once the section is completely assembled, the glazier has to solder each of the joints where the individual pieces of lead came come together. After doing it on the side facing him, he has to flip the panel and do the opposite side.
In the final in-studio step, each of the glass sections is laid on a table and a putty like glazing cement is brushed over the surface. This forces the cement beneath the flanges of the lead cames, securing the loose glass into the lead as it dries. This too has to be done on both sides so as to seat the glass properly and to provide a weather tight seal.
The glass sections rest in the studio awaiting transport to the site for installation.
In these panels the glasses have been joined by the lead strips that surround each piece of glass and holds it together. Note also how a difference in the width of some of the lead cames helps to emphasize different areas and cause the eye to move from one area to another. When created by a good team of artists, the individual panels could stand by themselves as fine works of art.
Putting the panels together onsite, the real work of art, the window in glass, is revealed.
Finally the full window/
Faceted glass windows are created with thick chunks of glass bound together by an epoxy matrix (looks like concrete) to form a more mosaic like appearance. Mostly unpainted, it more closely resembles an impressionistic painting. The color is found in the thick glasses and the line of the design is created with the dark matrix. It is especially powerful in large window areas.
In 1963 we built over 5000 faceted glass panels for the exterior wall of an entire 9 story building for the 1964 World’s Fair. It still functions to day as the New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York.
I have tried to tell you a little about stained glass History and the 115 year history of our studios. I hope it has been an informative journey.
History of Willet Hauser and New Windows Presentation (2)
Renowned Creation of Glass Art
Willet Hauser is where
light learns to speak.
We bring a 115 year old
legacy of stunning
glass design & creation
to our projects.
Temple Beth Zion, Buffalo, NY
Willet Hauser is a large glass organization with
over 70 employees in two studio locations:
• Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
• Winona, Minnesota
Founded as Willet Studios in
To specialize in the design &
fabrication of fine stained glass
Willet window at the National Cathedral
founder of the Willet
Founded as Hauser Art
Glass Company in 1946
To specialize in repair,
restoration & protection
of existing stained glass
Condition of a
Is the window
constructed of a single
layer of glass or does it
have multiple layers.
Most windows have a
The layers are called
“plates”, the window is a
Plates are most often
found in Tiffany and
“Tiffany style” windows.
This window has a base layer and 4 exterior plates (shown
above). There are areas with two more layers on the interior.
The left image shows
The right image shows
the same section after
Willet Hauser has created
windows for thousands of
• The National Cathedral, Washington DC
• The Cadets Chapel, USMA West Point
• Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
• Cathedral of St. Mary, San Francisco
• Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York
• National Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC
• The Chapel at the United Nations, New York
• The First Presbyterian Church, Tulsa, OK
• The Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta, GA
And over 100 hospital & institutional home chapels
•Dupont Institute Hospital Chapel, Wilmington, DE
• Walter Reed Hospital Chapel, Washington, DC
• Royal Alexandria Hospital Chapel, Edmonton
Rose window at Peachtree United Methodist
Church, Atlanta, GA
The stained glass legacy of Willet Hauser.
Contemporary Faceted Stained Glass
Contemporary Leaded Stained Glass
For over 115 years Willet
Hauser has created the finest
traditional styled windows in
the United States.
First Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, IN
36 major traditional
created by Willet
For 60 years Willet Hauser faceted
glass creations have been
enhancing buildings and public
The faceted glass window (or panel) consists of thick
chunks of glass & an epoxy matrix that form the
design in a mosaic fashion.
What is Faceted Glass?
Some general information about the medium
The glass provides the color and the epoxy provides
the line & negative space between the positive
The 1” thick glass is manufactured in slabs called
“dalles” that measure 8” x 12”. To assure proper
adhesion to the epoxy the factory perimeter finish
must be removed leaving the largest possible single
piece of useable glass at 7 ¾ “ X 11 ¾ “.
There is a limited
selection of colors, all
of which are not
always available. In
most cases the glass
is the same color and
value throughout the
dalle. This means
that changes in color
and/or value must
have epoxy between the glasses. The transition is
often abrupt because of the limited selection.
The panels cannot be all glass. The epoxy is needed to
strengthen and hold the panels together.
In the center panel it appears that the epoxy to glass ratio is about 50-50.
However, in the single panel, with transmitted light, the glass appears to
be about 80% of the area. Halation (spreading light around the glasses)
causes the epoxy lines and negative space to appear smaller than they
MTA elevated train station, New York, NY Designed by Michael Krondall
The project always begins with the designer.
The Fabrication Process
The designer or one of our artist/craftsmen enlarge
the original design to the full size of the window, or
panel. This is called the cartoon.
Each glass is carefully selected for color, value and
A cartoon is laid upon a light table and used as a
pattern for the glasses.
Each glass is “rough cut” to the approximate size
The “rough cut” glasses are marked as to final
shape with a grease pencil.
Some smaller and detailed glasses have to be cut
with special saws.
The size and shapes of the saw cut glasses are
The final shape of the
glass is achieved by
knapping the edges
with a special hammer.
The rough-cut edges of the glasses cause the light to be
deflected creating textural highlights. Occasionally, the
craftsman hits at an acute angle, producing more
pronounced sparkling highlights. This should be done very
The glasses are all cut and ready for the next step.
In some instances small details can to be added to
the surface of the glasses while still keeping their
rough, simple overall appearance. The above
heads for example.
A resist (in white) is applied to the surface of the glasses and
the unprotected area is sandblasted about ¼“ deep into the
glass. When the epoxy is poured, it is also poured into this
The glasses are then
placed upon a level
bed of sand in their
A form is built around the perimeter of the panel
and the epoxy is poured between the glasses.
The panel is cleaned of any excess epoxy and
the resists are removed from the glasses.
The finished panels are racked and stored
until shipped for installation.
For 50 years Willet Hauser faceted glass
creations have been enhancing buildings
and public spaces.
The following are some examples of how different
artists have designed faceted glass installations.
Faceted glass is often used to
create walls of glass in a
For many artist/designers the negative space and lines created
by the epoxy is a major part of their design.
The varied size of the line and the size and shape of
the negative space create a calligraphic effect that
can be as important as the size, shape and color of
Figures and symbols
created with the negative
Some additional figure design techniques in faceted
Here the artist varies the sizes of the glasses to
create a textural quality.
The same artist, by varying the
shapes of the glasses, suggests
a crowd for this depiction of the
“Sermon on the Mount”.
In this restaurant, an autumn forest is suggested by the leaf-
like shape of the glasses and the use of epoxy to hint at trunks
A traditional look can
also be created in
Willet Hauser faceted glass is also found in public art.
Harvard Square Station
Designed by Gyorgy Kepes
Faceted glass at the MTA
MTA elevated train station, New York, NY Designed by Yumi Heo
Fabricated by Willet Hauser Architectural Glass
MTA – Arts for Transit
The New York City Metropolitan
Transportation Authority, Arts for
Transit presents visual and
performing arts projects in
subway and commuter rail
stations. Neighborhood artists
working in various media are
invited to compete for projects in
nearby stations. Willet Hauser
has been chosen to fabricate
faceted stained glass panels
based on the winning designs of
many of these artists.
Designed by Carol Sun
MTA elevated train station, New York, NY Designed by Andrea Arrayo
MTA elevated train station, New York, NY Designed by Juan Sanchez
MTA elevated train station, New York, NY Designed by Beatrice Caron
Faceted glass with fused glass center
section. This is a very unusual
technique and the first example that
combined fused glass with faceted
MTA elevated train station, New York, NY Designed by Moses Ros
New York Hall of Science,
Queens, New York
An entire 9 story
of faceted stained
glass panels for the
1964 Worlds Fair.
In many towns and
cities the finest artwork
to be found is the
stained glass of the
churches and the
chapels at colleges and
Alice Millar Chapel, Northwestern University
has been proud to have
been a major contributor to
the heritage of American
Stained Glass Artistry.
First Presbyterian Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma