Friday, June 30, 2006

Just Too Happy For Words

The other day a client came to pick up a window we built for her. She took one look at it and broke into tears. Yes, it really was that beautiful, a real knockout of design. Most people don't burst into tears over the beauty of their window, that comes later on an overcast day, when they are in a mood and they walk in to see those vibrant colors that somehow draw emotion out of you, forcing you to pay attention.

Stained glass art does that, it draws out emotions, demands recognition. There was a painting that some friends of mine owned. It was a macro-realistic painting of strawberries with a drop of water on one of the leaves and it was so perfect and so big, it took me away. It made me feel that I was a fraud, that my art meant nothing compared to this perfect still-life. It didn't actually make me weep to view that beauty, but it did bring me to the brink of tears (it's a guy thing, I guess).

I feel sorry for those who never develop a sensitivity to art work. Like the fellow in Missouri who asked what you did with that there stained glass when you were done with it. I carefully explained that we put it in the window and enjoyed the way it looked. He nodded his head for a long time and then said, "But you can't see through it."

He was right, you often can't see through a piece of stained glass, but, Oh the joy of looking at it, instead of through it. The Father of the client picking up the window really tried to understand his daughters connection to the piece of glass. "You really like that, don't you? Can you tell me what it is about it that you like? She answered and he still kept asking, not understanding the beauty that she beheld.

I'm glad to be one of those who gets it when viewing a piece of glass, and a great painting, a good view and a great sunset. Maybe I need to find common ground with guys who don’t get glass, I’m sure they swell with pride when they look at their dog or maybe their new truck…

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

When Is Enough Enough?

There are times when I really wonder what I should do. Like the time that a window was broken by a friend who installed it as a favor to a customer. Do I have a responsibility because I knew them? Where does my involvement start and end? I mean, I want to be a good guy, but I'm also in business to make a profit, not to lose money.

To resolve the issue in my own mind, I think about the way that Randy Meitler, a metal artist reacts when things go wrong. ( Randy bends over backwards to satisfy the client. He often goes and does work for a client when he had little or nothing to do with a problem. I have seen him lose money time after time, fixing problems that others caused. When he installed a gate according to the instructions that the firm who hired him gave him, it didn't work right. Those guys didn't engineer the project properly. Really, Randy wasn't at fault, but he came out and re hung different hinges which had less friction in them and the gate worked fine. By rights, he should have been able to charge for the extra work, since it was the other guys fault, but he didn't. When I asked him about it, he explained that he would rather feel good about the job than to haggle over right and wrong and have the client have bad feelings.

He believes that what you do, comes back in some form. If you give good service, you'll get repeat business. If you give poor service, people will know.

There was a mechanic in the town where we lived in Missouri. He was an excellent mechanic, but he always had to cut himself a little better deal. When you took your car in for a tune-up or inspection, he always recommended that you get a new starter because that old one was going bad. If you happened to need a new starter, he was sure to find that your battery was bad as well. He padded every job with as much as he could and as a result, over the years, folks quit coming to him. He was still an excellent mechanic, but he had milked so many jobs that his reputation caught up with him and he lost more business that he gained.

So what am I going to do when asked to make good on a deal that has already cost me dearly? I'm going to remember what my son told me in a recent conversation. "It's not that the customer is always right, they're wrong as often as not, but we treat them with the same respect and care as IF THEY WERE RIGHT."

For more articles on stained glass visit

June-Removing Corrosion From Stained Glass

Sometimes we find that the metal surrounding a piece of glass begins to corrode. It is quite easy to remedy the problem. Some folks in the chemical industry refer to this white powder as "mold", but I believe they are mistaken. Mold doesn't grow as fast as I've seen some oxidation take place.

Read the whole article with pictures by clicking the title above.