Stained glass techniques have existed for over a thousand years—one of the oldest known examples is from an English monastery built in 686 CE—and stained glass windows are associated with churches and luxury homes from the Gilded Age through the early 20th century. An original stained glass window in an older home is an architectural footprint of the time in which the house was built. Stained glass is making a comeback, however, and a new generation of artisans are using age-old skills to enliven contemporary homes.
Meet Brenna Chase. A 2007 Bard graduate, Chase earned a certification in historic preservation and restoration in Astoria, Oregon, before returning to New York City to further develop her skills as a hands-on technician, and then opened her own shop, Willow Deep Studio, in Rosendale. Chase draws each design by hand and uses techniques perfected over centuries to cut, stretch, and solder glass and lead into translucent artworks. “These days, so much of what we buy and fill our homes with is expendable, but once I create a stained glass piece, there is a great chance it will be around for a long time, even if it’s passed on to other owners or modified over time to fit a new space,” she says. “When done correctly and installed in a safe location, panels can remain structurally intact for over a hundred years.”
There are so many possibilities of bringing traditional designs, styles, and architectural eras into old and new buildings alike. Chase says clients can opt for styles reflecting Victorian, Art Deco, Prairie, Edwardian, Art Nouveau, Mid-Century Modern, and even Medieval designs. She can match the tastes of any client but finds her natural style leans towards Art Deco. In the Hudson Valley, she has noticed clients prefer understated designs like farmhouse windows and streamlined Victorian patterns, rather than intricate designs popular in the `70s and `80s.
Chase specializes in restoration and custom stained glass windows for residential and commercial settings. Recent projects include the stained glass panels at Bia, an Irish restaurant in Rhinebeck, the LGBTQ Center in Kingston, and a three-dimensional lamp above the Wiltwyck, an Airbnb in a historic building in Kingston.
The cost of custom stained glass panels varies depending on size and complexity of design, but starts at $199 per square foot. For those looking to add stained glass into their home on a budget, Chase offers suncatchers, jewelry, and home goods through her online shop.