The Creation Process

One of the first steps in the process of creating the Roots of Knowledge stained glass windows was to create concept art. Storyboards, a timeline, and mind maps organized ideas about the scope and content of the project into a graphic sequence of interrelated events and key characters. The designers used Photoshop to combine computer images and hand-drawn sketches together into sections to see how they would fit into the overall window display. The illustrated sections then went to Tom Holdman and the design committee for approval.

The approved template was then printed and the shapes outlined in marker before being re-printed onto vinyl sticker paper. Each shape was numbered with its corresponding color of glass. Each shape could then be applied to the chosen glass as a cutting guide.

Technical lead line drawers traced the section outlines onto large sheets of clear glass, like a huge puzzle, to be used as a template for each stained glass panel. Eight different types of raw colored and textured glass were used: Uroboros, Youghiogheny, Kokomo, Holdman, Oceana, Spectrum, Lamberts, and Fremont. After the glass for each image was chosen, it was cut and polished by hand or grinder. Many pieces of cut raw colored and textured glass were placed directly in the panel templates, but most of the cut glass was sent to the painters. Over 60,000 pieces of glass were used.

After cutting, raw glass pieces were painted with several layers of paint, beginning with Reusche paint, a name brand mixture of ground glass and pigment oxide. Reusche paint provided a dark, matte base layer and was used for the writing on some of the panels, as well as to create depth and shadow. The painters used colored enamel paints made of crushed glass mixed with clove oil to paint the glass. The paint was applied with sprayers, brushes, stencil tools, and pens. After every single application of paint, the glass pieces were fired, baking the paint into the glass surface. Temperatures had to be just right in the kiln, anywhere from 570º to 1250º Fahrenheit, or the glass would crack and break.

In the Paint Room, the painted pieces of glass were laid out in place on light boards for inspection and final touch ups. Meanwhile, the leading process would begin. Pliable lead and the copper foil were bent, shaped, and cut to fit between the glass pieces before being secured with nails. Once all the of the lead lines had been inserted and secured and the glass put into place, the joints were welded and sealed. To strengthen and weatherproof the glass, a completed panel would be cemented with glazing cement and plaster. This process added an aesthetically pleasing dark patina to the lead surface. Whiting powder was then used to clean up excess cement while polishing and cleaning the glass.

Once cleaned and polished, the panels were then insulated between two sheets of clear glass and sealed with glue in an iron frame. The finished frames were stacked atop one another while the glue hardened. After the panels were completed, they were displayed against a backdrop of light on the Paint Room’s light board or the studio’s windows.

In preparation for the installation of the Roots of Knowledge windows, the Fulton Library’s first and second floors were partially remodeled. The unveiling of the finished windows was set for November 18, 2016, to cap off Utah Valley University’s 75th Anniversary celebration. The unveiling included a private ceremony for donors and dignitaries, followed by an open reception for the public.