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Stained glass It's heartwarming and house warming

  • Glass artist Nic East (right) lays out a design across three adjacent windows that will go in the Jewelry Room of his Hill Home Forge B&B as assistant Garry Palumbo prepares foil wrapped glass pieces for the design.
    Glass artist Nic East (right) lays out a design across three adjacent windows that will go in the Jewelry Room of his Hill Home Forge B&B as assistant Garry Palumbo prepares foil wrapped glass pieces for the design.
Published March 13. 2010 09:00AM

Nic East's Hill Home Forge Bed & Breakfast is fast becoming both heartwarming and house warming as the artist and industrial designer completes a project to enclose every door and window in stained glass.

After Nic and his wife, Eileen, moved into the home, bed and breakfast and glass studio at 10 Flagstaff Road in Jim Thorpe in 1989, they immediately began decorating the Craftsman-style building with Nic's first ironwork, then woodwork, and most currently, stained glass artworks.

Nic became interested in glass design after retiring from ownership of an iron design business in Philadelphia. He first tried his hand at woodworking but found that the wood dust triggered asthma attacks. After trying glass, in its various forms, he fell in love with its beauty and possibilities as a design material.

Strongly influenced by the designs of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Nic experimented with a stained glass overlay of the door to his glass studio. He designed as Wright often did, with straight lines in geometric patterns.

He liked working on doors and windows because not only did they offer a large working surface, but the extra layer of glass provided an additional layer of insulation, a fact that over the last few years proved that art can pay for itself when form also has function.

At his Hill Home Forge glass studio, Nic teaches glass design both to local artisans and artists, and to guests who visit his B&B for a Stay & Play Weekend. During these getaways, visitors enjoy the artist's surroundings while learning the skills to create their own glass designs.

In December, Nic looked at the existing beauty of his home and decided to kick it up a notch. He wanted to create stained glass overlays for every door and window in the building.

"I designed and made four long narrow horizontal windows for the top of our great hall and installed them just after Christmas," Nic said. "It was so much fun, that I just had to do some more. So, we did three windows in the atrium hall, then, four windows at the ground level, two in the atrium hall, and one in the pantry."

He is now working in the Jewelry Room, where Eileen exhibits the sculptural jewelry she makes using glass beads created by Nic.

"We put a stained glass door in there and we are doing four windows," Nic noted. "That will bring us to 14 panels. There will be six more, so there will be a total of two dozen windows."

"The house is a Craftsman style house and it lends itself very well to a geometric Craftsman style design," Nic explained. "I was strongly influenced by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. A lot of my stuff reflects that, but I have done other styles-art nouveau and floral styles-and have taught geometric and non-geometric styles."

His current design for the Jewelry Room reflects Nic's artistic reach. Straying from straight-line geometrics, his door design, called Fish Bubbles, is a study in circles and their possibilities.

The circular theme allowed Nic to introduce a wide variety of materials into his door design: colored, iridized and textured glass; geodes, mirrors and even a camera lens that inverts an image. The lens is cleverly worked into a design of bubbles rising from a fish.

Nic's stained glass designs start with a sketch on graph paper. He then calculates the finish size of the separate pieces. He then builds a frame and a grid-work where the stain glass puzzle pieces are to be located. Next, he selects the type of glass for each piece, and cuts it to size and shape using a straight edge, a circle cutter or a diamond saw.

Each piece of glass receives a layer of foil around its edge. The foil has one side of adhesive - coated silver to adhere to and reflect light back into the glass - and the other side of copper for soldering. Each glass piece is secured by placing it in a recessed holder of solderable came material. This is known as the Tiffany-Lafarge foiling method.

"When you love color as much as I do, glass is like painting with light," Nic said. "Light shines through the glass, giving it a vitality that you can't get from paint."

"Designing with sheets of transparent media is really fun," he continued. "When I walk through the house, I get a feeling of completion out of it. I love color and it satisfies that need within me."

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