By Karen Caldwell
Karen and Geoff’s work draws heavily on the American stained glass window tradition that reached its height in the 1880's. Their signature is Geoff’s hand beveled glass: thick plate glass that’s been hand shaped, refined, and polished, resulting in a myriad of refracting surfaces that split light into sparkling rainbows, giving life and movement to the work and its surroundings.
The term "stained glass" comes from the Medieval European technique of painting or "staining" glass with various colors and images, familiar to visitors of cathedrals where religious images fill windows. In America, in the second quarter of the nineteenth century, the glass industry flowered, using colored glass itself, rather than paint or stain, in secular windows that were employed to great effect by the architects of the period. They used them everywhere that could be enhanced by the addition of light, color and imaginative design: in doorways and entryways, stairwell, cupboard doors, and situations that required strong but obscured light.
Karen’s most recent series of work - fine art glass panels that earned her Master Artisan status with the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen – combines fusing, hand-painting, and traditional stained glass construction. These works feature flora, created by fusing, fauna rendered in the technique of medieval hand-painting, and leading. The resulting panels create a stunning story that is enhanced by the tension between the colorful fused flower elements and the finely detailed hand-painted animal images – a patchwork of glass that captures one’s imagination just as it captures the light that passes through it.
In addition to windows and panels, Karen has imaginatively used beveled and colored glass in a collection of decorative items for home, office, and gifts. She offers beveled glass candle holders of varying shapes and heights, beverage coasters, napkin holders, picture frames, and an array of colorful beveled glass boxes. A special collection, a strong statement of her horticultural and landscape design training, features her miniature Victorian-style greenhouses, complete with garden tools, furniture, and tiny pots.