Millennium Art Glass Company
(A division of fruitcratelabels.com)
ESTIMATING STAINED GLASS PRICES
Someone asked me recently "how much do you charge for a stained glass window?" I replied, "how much does a new car cost?" She said "What KIND of car?" I said. "What KIND of window." The idea is that there are so many variables, that there isn't one price or even one way to establish a price. Every window is unique and every price is different. It depends on what you want. At the same time, I am happy to work with you for ANY project. So just feel free to ask. The process does not have to be complicated. But, by the very nature of ctained glass, there are many things to consider.
WHY DOES STAINED GLASS COST WHAT IT DOES?
As with anything in life you get what you pay for. Quality and craftsmanship always costs more. If what you want is cheap, impersonal glass work in your house, it is easy to find. Lots of glass shops and home improvement centers have cheap products, poorly made in China or Mexico, with no skills in the selection of glass, all the pieces ramdomly cut on a computerized water-jet cutting machine, slapped together at minimum wage (or below) and built with th poorest quality glass, and materials, and craftsmenship. But that is like buying a cheap guitar. It will always sound like a cheap guitar, and it's value will never increase because of the terrible quality of the materials and craftsmenship. Whereas, a Martin or Gibson can cost from $650 to $6,000 for a similar guitar, but the difference is the same as between a Volkswagen and a Porsche, a Timex and a Rolex, a Corvair or a Cadillac! You get what you pay for.
Building stained glass artwork is a very exacting craft and art. It takes years of skill, practice, understand in the tools and medias, and a dedication to create high-quality work. Everything is hand cut, hand crafted and hand assembled, and leaded or foiled and soldered. No machine can do all these steps as a fine glass craftsman can. We cut our hands and are exposed to harsh (even dangerous) chemicals and materials. It can take hours to MONTHS to build a stained glass commission piece! Especially large architectural works and multi-hundred piece Taffany-style lampshades. WE make the designs, find and buy the glass, chose and cut all the pieces, grind and shape them, cinstruct the final work, and the lead or foil EVERY piece by hand, then solder, frame, patina and deliver the pieces. Not to mention all the painting and kiln-work that may also be involved! This is not what the do in China and Mexico in sweat-shop glass craft
Real glass artisans have spent year in their work, thousands of dollars on tools and thousands more on glass. They have worn out some of their tools, their finger tips, their patients, their checkbooks keeping up on the demands of the craft.
Many people simply want to have some colorful glass in their home. Perhaps a couple Tiffany-style lampshades, or a few suncatchers in the windows, AND THEY DON'T WANT TO SPEND MUCH MONEY. There are many kinds of "retail" glass pieces available in glass shops, galleries, home-improvement centers, or in online catalogues and on glass-crafter's websites. Rainbow Glass in Sacramento, has 40-50 stained-glass panel-style windows hanging in their shop from prices between $175 and $1,750, and a large selection of lampshades, blown glass items, kiln-formed items, you name it. They also have supplies for the do-it-yourself-er, and class to teach you how. These are all retail glass items.These are things you find in a store, catalogue, or online that are either mass produced or otherwise not "custom made" specifically for you.
SUN-CATCHERS AND ORNAMENTALS:
HANGING PANELS: Most stained glass found in stores are called "panels" usually they hang on a chain from a couple hooks embedded in the window jam in your home. They are a about 24x36 or so, and can have any number of interesting themes. Many people use them in bathrooms to obscure the view in or out. Many people hang one in the window to add color to their room. Panels are usually inexpensive, ranging between $200 and $1,000. dependiung on several variables. They come in various shapes and sizes, round, scuare, rectangular, and feature flowers, birds, boats, animals, and "earthy" subjects. Hundreds of patterns are available and every student who wants to "try stained glass" usually starts with a simple panel. Most of these fall into the realm of "craft" glass projects.
ART-GLASS or GLASS ART: When artists take stained glass to "another level" and move past the 'craft" phase and into the "art" phase, it begins to be called "art-glass."
"CUSTOM GLASS WORK"
The next kind of glass is something custome made to your particular taste or application. If you want a particular landscape, or design for your home, one that fits into a particular opening in a window, or door side-light, then you will want to ask a glass artisan to make this for you to a specific size and cost. You may want a simple 24" x 72" window with clear glass and straight lead lines. OIr, you might want a window that same size, with a swirling dragon and rose vines around the outer edges, or an oceanic scene with fish and sea creatures and a ship on the water's surface at the top. The prices for these vary quite a bit.
Every window is individual in its size, subject matter, composition and
complexity (number of pieces), materials, types and colors of glass (with
it's attendant costs...) and structural considerations. The elements to
consider are many varied. And today, "stained glass" is a broad
term to begin with. A lot of stained glass is actually clear and has no
color at all! That is called "leaded glass" If the glass is bevel-sets
and clear glass it is not "stained glass", so these are two distinct
realms of one field. There are a hundred types, styles and variations of
"clear" glass, and made by many manufacturers. And, there are
about 2,000 types of stained (colored) glass on the market today, as well.
It SEEMS daunting to consider all these things, but no different than buying a car. Do you want a certain color of paint, or stereo, ON-STAR, or magnum wheels, custom interior, heated seats or motorized outer mirrors, bumper to bumper warranties..., or myriad other features? Every aspect has its price. You can buy a car for $500 or $50,000 dollars. It depends on what you want! This holds true for stained glass installations.
ARCHITECTURAL GLASS: Beyond panels, are architectural glass panels which are more permenant, and have many nuances that regular panels do not require, as seen below: You may actually want to hire an architect with structural engineering training to design your installation and THEN hire the glass artisan to execute it for you.
WOODWORKING AND FRAMING CONSIDERATIONS: If these are for cabinet doors, an above-door transome, bathroom or architectural setting, (especially churches), the window will need to precisely fit the framework of the building or structure where it will be installed.
WHAT YOU ARE PAYING FOR IN CUSTOM GLASS WORK
COMMISSIONS IN GENERAL: A commission is the fee you pay an artist to specifically create your glass desires FOR YOU. It is not retail like the descriptions above. It is "custom work" specifically FOR YOU. It CAN include lampshades, or panels and often does. But it is not a general design found in a store or catalogue or pattern-book. It is a specific piece of art made for and paid for by YOU, for which you are hiring a specific artist to do a specific thing. And, like everything in art (and life) you get what you pay for.
DESIGNS AND PATTERNS: Once the size and structural requirements are established, the design needs to be created and sized to those specifications. It also matters if the client brings in the design or if they need the artist to create something for them.
CHOOSING AND ACQUIRING THE GLASS: There are many glass manufacturers worldwide, and over 2,000 types of glass in the marketplace. Many manufacturers make sheets of glass by the crate-lot and other hand-blow their glass one sheet at a time. Bevel-sets are another consideration.
Clear glass may have ripples, patterns, bubbles, wiggles, bends, "seeds" obscuring difractions, and even other types of glass embedded in it, but it is still clear! Whereas, a custom "stained glass" piece may also contain beads, shells, metal things glued to its surface, or painted pictures and other three-dimensional aspects on it, even silk-screened images or decals laid onto it. The term "stained glass" today encompasses in large definition of glass art (and craft). It may also include layering of several pieces to give it depth (plating: a Tiffany hallmark.) or even fused-glass or vitre-fusaille elements. But ,this page is about glass projects you want to hire an artist for, and what you should consider when you are planning your visions for your specific desires and applications, whatever they might be. So, lets visit the things you need to consider. Chatting about your project is free.
CUTTING, GRINDING AND LAYOUT OF GLASS (production):
PAINTING ( & KILN WORK) Painting on glass requires time, skill, paints, electricity, more time, and careful attention to detail. Some windows require numerous firings of painted elements before construction can begin.
PATE-DE-VERRE (FUSING GLASS TOGETHER) Some windows also have fused-glass elements which also require time and energy.
ASSEMBLY:Once the design is completed and laid out, it must be approved by the client, and then signed-off, so construction (production) can begin.
CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS (LEAD, FOIL, SOLDER, RE-BAR, ZINC CHANNEL...) There are several materials which need to be purchased for the construction and reinforcement of the windows.
PLATING: sometimes glass is more than one layer thick, meaning another piece of glass may be mounted in front of, or behind another, which requires additional glass and modified construction techniques.
LABOR (Based on hours in production) A good shop will keep a careful log of all materials andtime spent in the window's creation so the client knows how the hours were spent.
DELIVERY Many windows can be hand delivered to the client who can drive them home in their own car. Others may require a professional glass company with a big truck to move the window from the construction studio to the installation site. Thsi depends a lot on the size and weight of the finished window.
INSTALLATION This can be as simple as putting a hook in the moulding of your home window , or, in the case of architectural installations, may require a glazing company with a crew and a power-lift, ladders and an insurance bond to install. Architectural installations can range from $10,000 to $100,000 depending on scope, circumstances and outside contractors.
GLAZING / PLATE GLASS / SAFETY GLASS FOR PROTECTION FROM THE ELEMENTS AND VANDALISM: Triple-glazing is a method to encase the panel in safety glass on both sides. Insulative or protective plating run the gamut of expense depending on your installation requirements. We'll need to discuss and assess these costs. But, I have excellent references for these aspects, too.
BASED UPON SQUARE FEET. Some shops state "we charge $100. per square foot for windows we make." But That one square foot may require a painting of the last supper in 15 colors and that would become an $850.00 square foot. Or, a 48" x 48" window with a vine, ten green leaves and a couple flowers can be $150. So a square foot "average" is not a good guage of pricing. I can create a square foot window that costs $100 or $4,000., depending on what is required to make it!
PIECE-WORK. I have found, the number of pieces in a window is proportional to the number of hours it will take. A one-square foot window with 100 pieces takes about the same amount of time as a 4 foot by 4 foot window with the same number of pieces. 100 pieces of glass take about the same amount of time to cut and grind and assemble no matter what size they are (unless they are huge sheets for a two-story tall office building installation.)
REPAIRS ans SCRAP GLASS: Let's suppose there is a nasty earthquake in your neighborhood ten years later, and your window gets damaged. Traditionally, leftover, unused glass that cannot be returned to tne manufacturer or wholesaler for credit, is left in the hands of the window-builder. That way, years later when you call him and say "help, I need some repairs..." chances are good he will still have some of the original glass (even though the manufacturer discontinued it years earlier!).
ACCESSORIES: One artist i met, used some scrap glass from windows for a client, and made a set of candy dishes and a flower vase for the client who paid him well, as accessories for the table near the window, to tie the "theme" together. :) Clever idea!
CHOOSING THE RIGHT ARTIST Ultimately, your budget and desires will dictate the cost of your project. If you can afford $25,000. for a custom window, you will get a very serious artist's interest. If you want a big window and only want to spend $200.00, you will probably be ordering from a simple catalogue, something mass produced in China or south of the border. It is like buying a guitar. If you want a cheap guitar, they are easy to find. But, you will not like it as much as a fine guitar which is well worth the investment. "You will never be sorry if you buy a thing of quality from the start!"
MY goal, is to deliver a stunning piece of work for a price that is reasonable to both you, the customer, and I, the artist. So, here are some ideas to consider. There are many levels of glass work, let's look at the number of them. Mostly, the price relates to costs of raw glass, the number of pieces required, and painted elements, then, SIZE. A 24 x 24 inch window cost far less than a life-size six-foot tall custom piece, and the hours and electricity it takes to create them (shipping costs notwithstanding). All these variables play important roles. But, I am happy to discuss all this for free!
BOUROIR PHOTOGRAPH TURNED INTO STAINED GLASS
PRICING OF IMAGE CREATION:
Outfits and props
size and number of pieces, intricacy of painting and firings
time frame for delivery
SITTING FEE AND WHAT YOU GET $xx.00 you get 36-72 images, either digitally
or print and includes the printing fee.
copies of, disc of images
deposit and payment
IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS:
Stained glass art, whether a lampshade, kitchen cabinets, bathroom window, or something for every window in the house, is something you will look at every day. "A thing of beauty is a joy forever." So, spend enough to make it something you will be proud of, and enjoy and will never lose its value. Pay the artist what they are worth, because without patrons of the finer arts, there will be no artists and no finer arts! Your glass project will receive the greatest of attention, care and expertice to make it beautiful, durable, well-constructed and a joy to behold for years to come.
If you have ANY questions at all about anything on this page, please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to assist you.
Thomas P. "Pat" Jacobsen --
P.O. Box 791, Weimar, CA, 95736-0791, U.S.A.
Phone 530.637.5923. (8:00 AM - 5:00 PM, weekdays (PST) !!)