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New stained-glass panels reduce glare, add beauty at Holy Family Church

Post Time:Dec 19,2011Classify:Industry NewsView:400

YAKIMA, Wash. — Ninety-two glass panels. Fifteen hundred individual colored pieces. More than two tons of putty. Thirty-two years of experience.


That's what Steve Vingo needed to design and install new stained-glass windows at Holy Family Church in Yakima. Vingo and a small team have been working on the project for about a year and a half, and on Thursday finished putting the last few windows in place.


"It's hard to believe after all this time," Vingo said. "It's been kind of a long process."


The process dates back to 1969, when the Roman Catholic church off Tieton Drive was built. Holy Family installed 20 stained-glass windows, but placed clear glass in the remaining 92 ceiling panels in the sanctuary.


The problem was, all that clear glass let in too much light. The sun blasting through those windows frequently blinded the choir and washed out the words on the church's projector screens.


"I first went to Holy Family Church in '84, and the first thing I noticed was all that clear glass should've been stained glass," said Tom Roy, a member serving as liaison between Vingo and the church. As a longtime choir member, he said, "It's always been an irritation."


So a couple of years ago, when the church proposed replacing the single-pane windows with thermal-paned windows, Roy stepped in.


"They were going to replace clear glass with clear glass, and I said, 'Whoa, wait a minute!' " he recalls.

He suggested they instead put in stained glass windows to match the geometric pattern on the existing stained glass.


To do that, he arranged with local Stephens Metal Products to do the aluminum framework, then approached Vingo, who's been working with glass in Yakima since 1978.


Vingo said he worked about three months to get the color composition right, balancing light with dark, keeping the bright blues and reds from overpowering the base tones of gold and amber, and blending it with the existing windows. In his workshop, the paper design is still tacked up on the wall, looking like a series of highly advanced coloring book pages.


"The goal of the glass and texture was to basically tone it down, get rid of that raw blast of light that comes through" the old windows, Vingo said. "It helped subdue it without making the room too dark."

Vingo's had a long time to perfect his art. He attends training seminars around the U.S., and in 1980, visited France to learn about different methods of making stained glass. He traveled all over that country to different churches and historic cathedrals, getting up close to stained glass that tourists never get to see.


To the casual observer, Vingo's work is indistinguishable from the original stained glass, but in certain light, differences do appear. The existing windows are mouth-blown glass, a time-consuming -- and expensive -- way to make stained glass. Blown glass has unique striations on the surface, made by the individual glass makers as a kind of signature.


Vingo used machine-rolled glass from an Indiana company that has more texture and glitters in sunlight. He and a crew of four cut the glass to fit in the metal framework -- 15 pieces per window -- then pressed the putty into the channels of the frame, let it harden and cleaned the glass.


"You're never really done handling them until they're literally in place," Vingo said.


The team didn't plan to work into December. An incorrect glass shipment delayed them five weeks, and floods in Arkansas and Missouri held up the putty delivery by another month. The past few weeks have been a bit brutal, with Vingo's crew up on the 125-foot lift for six to eight hours a day trying to coax the old windows out of their 42-year-old casings, then putting the new 75-pound windows in place.


But working in the cold has been worth it. Roy said church members so far have only good things to say about the $106,000 project.


"It's beautiful," he said, "I haven't heard anything negative."


And for Vingo, the satisfaction of finishing the job is secondary to his love of the work.


"There's just something about the glass with the light coming through, and once you get the composition made and it's the right thing for the right place ... it's just really fun," he said. "There's so many things you can do with glass; that's the great fun thing about it. You're always experimenting."

Source: www.yakima-herald.comAuthor: shangyi

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