What This Artist Does Using Stained Glass Will Blow You Away
Lesley Green's vision is crystal clear: to break the stained-glass mold. Eschewing traditional cathedral windows and candy-colored suncatchers, Green specializes in more abstract designs. Her signature pieces, which resemble delicate geometric mobiles, are made from hand-cut shapes—brightly colored hexagons, diamonds, even origami cranes—and have graced windows both big (Urban Outfitters storefront displays, above) and small (in homes everywhere from Nashville to the Netherlands). "Glass can be manipulated in so many ways," says the 36-year-old artist. "It's like working with a blank canvas."
Photo: Madison Kirkman
Despite Green's technical skill, getting into the stained-glass game was accidental. After completing a graduate degree in architectural conservation at the Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland, she moved to New York City and founded Bespoke Glass. "My program was very academic," says Green, who now splits her time between New York and Phoenix. "I was dying to work with my hands again." Her business began with custom home decor, like mosaic-inspired backsplashes and serving trays. But her plans shifted when customers started asking about stained glass. To meet the growing demand, Green began playing with new shapes and patterns. "I wanted to think beyond windows and lampshades," she says. "How do you break stained glass down into something people can customize? Or move? Or afford?"
Photo: Lesley Green
Green might not be making lampshades, but she does employ the Tiffany method (yes, that Tiffany) to bring her designs to life. For each piece, she begins by tracing outlines onto sheets of colored glass. After cutting out the individual shapes, she files them and applies copper foil tape to each edge. Then comes the most rewarding (and difficult) part: soldering the seams. "My pieces are meant to be handled," says Green. "The joints need to be perfect!" While there are many opportunities for blunders, the process rarely ends in shattered glass. "When that happens, it's usually clumsiness on my part," says Green, who by this point is unfazed by shards and splinters. "Any time a wineglass smashes, I'm the first person under the table to help clean up."