stained glass at portland's historic victorian belle mansion

Stained Glass Tour at Portland’s historic Victorian Belle Mansion

In Featured PAG Members, Old School, Oregon, Portland, Restoration, Stained Glass, Victorian Homes, Videos

We’ve provided a transcript of David’s discussion below:

It is another sunny, beautiful day here at the Victorian Belle, a great time to look at the stained-glass windows that have been put in over the last couple of years, along with some of the old, original Povey brothers’ windows. The double front doors and transom window are quite spectacular; lots of faceted jewels, opalescent glass, and rippled glass that all sparkle and have different degrees of brightness. Come on inside and let us take a look.

My name is David Schlicker, and my occupation is retired, stained-glass artist. I have been making stained-glass windows for over forty years.

I heard of a job that became available in 1972. We were repairing the Povey brothers’ stained-glass windows for the most part. It was on these windows that I could study the types of glass they used, the color combinations, and notice how the windows were fatiguing in different ways and what needed the most repair work.

My first chance that I could, I came over here and brought my camera. I came into the house and went around and photographed the windows, and was in awe of the stained glass and how beautiful it was.

Twenty years later when I had my own studio, I received a phone call from a lady. She asked if I would come over to this house and take a look at the stained-glass windows that had been damaged. When I got here, both the front door windows had had karate kicks that had caved them and broken numerous pieces of glass. So my job was to rebuild the windows and to find matching colors. This is a piece of glass that was replaced. It is a different type of ripple than what is in this vase over here.

In the early ’70s, the glass-blowing department at Portland State educated Eric Lovell, who set up a glass-blowing studio in the same neighborhood where Tim Yockey and I had our first studio. He started Uroboros Glass Factory. Also moving here from back East, the Michigan area, were Dan Schwoerer, Boyce Lundstrom, and Ray Ahlgren, and they started Bullseye Glass Factor. Ben Mulligan and Jerry Bosco at that time also received financing, and they started a glass factory called Genesis. I was in heaven. I had lots of varieties of types of glass to choose from.

The stained-glass windows at that time used the most popular glass that was American, and that was opalescent glass. Lots of opalescent glass, but opalescent from a variety of manufacturers. Here is a Kokomo opalescent, and here is a bullseye glass, which is sort of a trick glass to do. I guess you would call it an end-of-the-day run type of glass. It has five different colors in this outside border. This down here is a light blue opalescent with a rose-tinted in it. As it progresses toward the middle of the window, it goes from a spectrum to a Kokomo, and the Kokomo just has a two-color mix of the same colors.

Glass up to that time was glass made for churches and for the glorification of God. Glasses that were very transparent and brilliant and bright jewel-toned colors were the most popular.

The fun thing about this side of the house with all the sunlight on it is all the opalescent gets to show. The cathedrals and the ripples are almost dead in color, but the opalescent that has white mixed in it has a reflective quality.

White glass had been available. It was used for utilitarian objects. Then taking that white base glass, then adding color to it, and then rolling that out into sheets is what became American opalescent glass.

Even from across the street, when you look at the house the little ribbons and little focal points of opalescent glass are what you see. Then when you go in the house it is opposite; the cathedral glasses and crackle glasses are really bright, and the opalescent glasses are really subdued and subtle.

From the inside, I didn’t want to just make the same window from floor to floor, so they are similar but different. Around here is another transom window, one of a pair; the other one is in the other room. Outside they match the set that comes up at the house.

When this window is laid out, we know that it is going to be four angles of the way the sun comes through here. All those bevels will in unison be throwing rainbows out in the same direction. Locally we have a glass beveler, Dan Woodward, who has been beveling for well over forty years. The thicker and steeper the glass and the bevel, the more dramatic the rainbow can be. I have a little sunbeam in my hand from that bevel. Jewels can twinkle as you move and expose different facets to a light source. The faceted jewels on this, [indiscernible] and rose is the name of the faceting pattern. As you walk by a window, they can flash and sparkle and twinkle, or if you are sitting stationary in front of a window that jewels or bevels in it and then outside a car goes by or a branch on a tree moves, the whole window can erupt in all these little points of light turning on and off and flickering.

I get a lot of satisfaction saving the life of an old stained-glass window that sometimes people is too far gone to be repaired. The clear is not holes; the clear is just where the red was chipped off the surface of the flash glass exposing the clear. I do have some old crackle left over from some old windows that will match that perfectly. Looking at a window of this age, you can forget all these little sins. It is still a gorgeous, beautiful window. It has the original saddle bar reinforcing bars on it, and the window is tied to those bars with copper wires. Cutting an inside curve on this blue piece of glass is really difficult because it wants to break straight. So a lot of these pieces are challenges in cutting and show off quite a bit of craftsmanship.

The repair I did on the windows I am very proud of, and I think that they are almost unnoticeable. Stained-glass windows can evoke a lot of positive feelings, I feel, in their color and design and how they come together.