What’s the easiest way to join the SGAA?

Right here on our website! Membership in the SGAA is open to everyone—at our heart, the SGAA is an energetic community of studios and individuals that love stained glass. We are advocates and ambassadors, professionals and aficionados. Members enjoy access to industry benefits, our award-winning magazine, historical archives, and products and services that support practice and professional development.

You can find more information on our membership levels here.

Anyone may join or renew as an Affiliate Member right here—we'd love to have you.

The SGAA has the distinct honor of being the only accrediting body for architectural stained glass in the United States. If you're interested in Professional or Accredited Professional Membership, please do not hesitate to reach out to the office or our membership chair for more information.

How are my membership dues used by the association?

Dues are used primarily to support the sharing and maintenance of stained glass education through our programs: our magazine and other publications, (Stained Glass Quarterly, our Reference & Technical Manuals, the Standards and Guidelines for the Preservation of Stained & Leaded Glass Windows—all of which we are currently working to digitize to make available on our new online resource center—stainedglass.org) Other programs include our annual conference which is open to all and moves to a new city every year.  

Membership dues are used to produce the Stained Glass Quarterly magazine, our award-winning publication. Continuously published since 1906, there are also extensive archives to maintain. Members are welcome to reach out to the office to request an archive search at any time.

Our education and advocacy efforts are not only for those who are involved in making stained and architectural art glass, but also for those who find themselves as caretakers of stained glass. We provide education for residential and public buildings and their owners and stewards who need to learn more about everything from basic cleaning and maintenance to a full restoration. We are a neutral education hub that encourages the preservation and growth of the entire industry across every facet of creation.

Does a Quarterly Subscription come with membership?

Yes, indeed! You will receive the Stained Glass Quarterly as long as you are a member without ever having to worry about whether or not your subscription is expiring. Join as an affiliate member and get the magazine in addition to organization and industry news and inspiration.

Who made my stained glass windows?

There is a renewed interest in the stained glass windows in churches where they were once taken for granted. Not long ago, when the windows of a church began to look old fashioned or needed extensive repairs, they were replaced. This was easier for the stained glass studio and was probably cheaper than repairs that no one then knew much about anyway. New styles of church architecture called for new styles of decoration.

Now, society as a whole has become more aware of historic buildings. The windows are an important part of the fabric of a building. Sometimes, the owners must spend a good deal of money to clean and restore them. Whether it's the money spent or the vibrant color that emerges from the restoration, the stained glass becomes a focus point of the building. This leaves everyone asking: Who made these windows?

Perhaps the congregation plans a booklet to mark the anniversary of the church. At those times, generalities such as "I've always heard they came from Europe" will not satisfy them, so the search begins.

Signatures

Unless a window is signed or there is a reliable written record, you can't know for sure who made a window. However, during the search, there is much to learn.

Some studios never signed windows. Lawrence Saint said he would sign a design but not a window. Too many artists worked on it. Perhaps some studios considered stained glass only a craft and not worth signing.

The custom, if a window was to be signed, was to use the studio's name. Perhaps the glass painter whose responsibility it was to add the information conveniently forgot. "Why should I sign the boss's name? He didn't make this window—I did."

New, stronger frames that replaced old ones sometimes made it necessary to cut off or cover up a signature too close to the bottom of the window.

The first place to look for a signature is the lower right. Then go over the whole window before you give up. A window in Saint Luke's Episcopal Church, Baltimore, has a signature on the hem of Jesus' robe. A window in Mercersburg Academy Chapel by the Camm Studio has not only the studio but everyone who worked on the window and several members of the family.

The signature of the Tiffany Studio is usually acid etched from flashed glass and visible along the bottom border, probably because very little of the window was painted. Of course, it should be remembered that not every opalescent window is a Tiffany! Though that seems obvious, not everyone is aware of it.

If all the windows in a building were made at the same time and are similar in style, only one or two may be signed. This is the usual practice of Mayer of Munich.

In one instance, a restorer signed an old window as though he had made it. A suspicious and dedicated archivist uncovered this deception.

The search for a signature may require binoculars or a magnifying glass.

Another challenge is that some studios use quirky logos or monograms; Charles Eamer Kempe used a wheatsheaf from his family coat of arms, and, when the studio was taken over by his nephew, Walter Tower, a tower was superimposed on the original logo. Powell of Whitefriars used a little monk that could be elongated to fit a vertical border. Monograms are easier to read, but the seeker must know the name of the studio or maker.

Sometimes an undecipherable scribble will look like a signature. It is possible that a glass painter has added his mark. Joseph Diano, a glass painter who worked for both D'Ascenzo and Willet Studios throughout his long life, used to say he signed every window, but no one could ever find his name. Arnolds Treibergs, another Willet glass painter, was observed to introduce a Latvian star where there was none in the design.

Written Records

The next obvious place to look may be the archives. Some congregations carefully keep detailed minutes of procedures and old programs of services. These are often found in a slightly damp box in the basement. Some denominations have historical societies that collect archival material from churches and keep that material in good condition.

Sadly, some archives are tossed out without being examined when a new pastor comes or when a closet is needed for a more current use.

Make a note of any dates. These may or may not be the dates the window was installed. Maybe the family that donated the window is still in the church. There is a chance they have kept diaries or letters.

If the person memorialized or the church was prominent, the next place to try will be the files of old local newspapers or publications of historical societies. Be ready for disappointment, because articles like this usually dwell on everything but the maker of the window. The readers were considered to be more interested in the member of a prominent family.

These reports may contain errors and omissions, such as a lengthy one from the Richmond Daily Dispatch, 1878, which describes the process and includes every memorial inscription and text and then adds near the end, "The windows were put in by H. W. Jenkins and Son from Baltimore."

Another lengthy write-up from The Independent, 1903, of the windows in Calvary Church, Germantown, describes each window in detail, including the painting from which it was said to be copied. However, none of the studios that made them is mentioned.

There may be an old book about the church that includes information about the windows. However, it is usually the desire to create such a book that contributes to the interest in the letters.

Style

It is tricky to try to identify style. It is at best an inexact science. Following are some hints used by experts who will give an "educated guess."

All studios duplicated their own designs. The same design may be in a completely different size and shape opening. You may be lucky enough to have seen the design in the window in question before. This does not refer to paintings from "Christian Calendar Art" like Plockhorst's "Good Shepherd," which many different studios use over and over.

Some studios keep records or put out material that lists their commissions so you can find out if they were involved with your windows.

Some studios use a definitive feature like Kempe's angel wings made of peacock feathers. Sometimes a color palette will be distinctive, like Bossanyi's. Large studios like Tiffany's hired many freelance designers who also worked for other studios; Frederick Wilson, for example, moved to California to work for Judson Studio after working for Tiffany, and Maitland Armstrong opened his own studio after leaving the Tiffany studio. Experts are probably familiar with these well-known examples.

A knowledge of dates that studios were in business should tally with the date of the installation of the window. A knowledge of styles popular in an era like opalescent or pictorial, preferred color schemes and architectural features helps. Experts have seen many windows and many styles in many parts of the country, in buildings by different architects, and will not pretend to know when they don't. If you ask them for help, remember they need to see the window or very good photographs not only of the setting but of details like faces, drapery and borders.

How do I determine the value of my stained glass windows?

Determining the value of your windows is a question with many possible answers depending on your needs. We devote an entire chapter to it in the Standards & Guidelines for Preservation. Determining the value of your windows for insurance purposes depends on a wide variety of factors from historical provenance, known information about the windows maker, (and, if known, the importance of that maker in stained glass history, where they were in their career and what the window represents to that point in their career), relative condition of the window, and the current costs of repair and replacement, etc.

If you only need the appraisal for informational purposes (insurance or a conditions assessment)—you can reach out to any Accredited Professional Studio in the Association and ask them for help with those issues. You can find a complete list of those studios on our website here: Find a Studio

If you are more in need of appraisals for purposes of insurance, estate tax, charitable donation, equitable distribution, liquidation, purchase, and sale, there is one Accredited Appraiser for stained glass in the US and his information is here below:

Jack Whitworth
104 Melody Lane
New Braunfels, TX 78130
Tel. 830.214.3370
jack@whitworthstainedglass.com

Can you help us sell a stained glass panel from our church?

No. If the panel is installed into and original to your building, that is where it has the most value and we recommend leaving it in place and seeing to any maintenance needs it may have.

However, if the panels need to be removed and sold due to church closure or other circumstances, we recommend first reaching out to a large studio that can help you safely remove your windows and prepare them for storage and/or transportation.

Can you help me sell a stained glass panel from my home?

No. If the panel is installed into and original to your home, that is where it has the most value and we recommend leaving it in place and seeing to any maintenance needs it may have.

If the panel is autonomous, (not original, or not installed specifically into your home) and it is determined to have value and separate from your home, we would recommend finding a high-end antique dealer in your region that could help you with that.

Can you help me identify this glass?

We would recommend that you reach out to a stained glass supplier to identify any piece of glass you are trying to match. We've listed a few to get you started here: 

Ed Hoy’s International
Warrenville, IL | 800-468-4527
www.edhoy.com

Franklin Art Glass Studios, Inc.
Columbus, OH | 800-848-7683 
www.franklinartglass.com

Delphi
Lansing, MI | 800-248-2048
www.DelphiGlass.com

Northwest Art Glass
Redmond, WA | 800-888-9444 
www.nwartglass.com

D&L Art Glass Supply, Inc.
Denver, CO | 800-525-0940 
www.dlartglass.com

Franciscan Glass Company, Inc.
Mountain View, CA | 800-229-7728 
www.franciscanglass.com

If you'd like to find the closest retail store to you that might be able to assist in your search, you can also check the directory of Retailers of Art Glass and Supplies.

Where/How can I sell my old stained glass supplies or glass sheets?

If you have found yourself with a stash of stained glass tools, supplies, or sheet glass, we recommend trying to sell them locally as it's difficult and expensive to ship most supplies and equipment our industry tends to acquire. Most members report that they have some small success using such online marketplaces as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. If you have a large collection, you could reach out to your local or regional wholesaler or retailer for assistance posting to other members in your region. 

Another option is to find an art education program local to you and donate the materials.

Some artists and families have had luck posting images and a short blurb about their collections they're looking to sell on glass or stained glass related Facebook groups like:

and if you're one of our members: SGAA Community 

Please remember that if there is any solder or lead in your stash, that it needs to be properly disposed of through a metal recycling center!

How old is SGAA?

SGAA was founded in 1903 in Columbus, Ohio as The National Ornamental Glass Manufacturers' Association of the United States and Canada. The first issue of Stained Glass, a quarterly of the Stained Glass Association of America, was published in December 1906. It began as a thin trade journal called The Monthly Visitor. This title lasted for only two issues when it was changed to The Ornamental Glass Bulletin. This name served for twenty years. Then it became The Stained Glass Bulletin of the Association of America, followed by The Bulletin of the Stained Glass Association of America, a title to which the old-timers still like to cling. In 1931, the bulletin's name was shortened to Stained Glass. In 1933 the publication finally settled upon its present name of "Stained Glass, a quarterly of the Stained Glass Association of America." 

An editorial note from the very first edition read:

"The Monthly Visitor is published every month for the benefit of the profession of stained and ornamental glass. The principal object being to bring the various corporations in closer relationship to each other and help eliminate as far as possible the many obstacles and evils in the profession. Owing to the great distance manufacturers live apart—this little paper is intended to call on each one regularly and find out what is going on and tell each what is going on elsewhere, so that especially those who cannot attend our convention become in a degree at least acquainted with each other."

Learn more about our history here. 

Who has a complete collection of Stained Glass Quarterly?

The Library of Congress has the most extensive collection of the entire Stained Glass publication, but the most accessible, comprehensive collection is at The Juliette K. and Leonard S. Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass, the world’s foremost library on the art and history of glass and glassmaking. Most of the issues are also held at the SGAA Offices in Buffalo, NY.

Can I search the Stained Glass Quarterly archives?

Right now, only the The Juliette K. and Leonard S. Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass and the SGAA Offices have a searchable index of the Stained Glass Quarterly archives. We are working to provide that index to members digitally through our new members portal. 

How do I make a research request?

While the SGAA Offices do have a plethora of books, articles, and of course, our own SGQ archives, they are still far from digitized and can be difficult to search.

We highly recommend sending any stained glass research questions to the Juliette K. and Leonard S. Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass a fully staffed library in Corning, NY. The librarians there prefer that you submit questions online and there is a place on the sidebar of their webpage to do so.

If you would like to send us any questions, we ask that you submit questions to the Stained Glass Association of America offices via email to info@stainedglass.org. Please give us several days to get back to you, as your question may require a paper search.