Synagogue stained glass
Our conversation started with the synagogue’s rabbi and with an architect’s rendering. We were invited to spend a weekend with the community to discover who they were and for them to learn more about us-- a valuable trust building experience.
There was a winter weekend with the congregation. An erev Shabbat service talk, participation in Saturday morning Torah study, dinner with committee members and more! Here are the results of brainstorming during a Sunday morning congregational meeting.
Nancy led the Sunday School students in a hands-on activity to engage get them excited about having stained glass in their synagogue.
Proud students display their work!
Rough concept drawings. The weave serves as the interplay of vertical tree and water nature elements prevalent in Maine. Symbols for the Jewish holiday cycle circle the central panel of Torah, community (inner & outer), and the eternal light.
A scale sketch for the window, incorporating design concepts gleaned from the weekend visit approved by the client.
Temple Beth El underwent extensive renovation. This shows the framed out area where the stained glass window was to be installed.
In the studio, the glass is cut and displayed vertically before any enhancement of detailing is done with vitreous (glass) paint.
On the left, flames of the Chanukkah menorah, shown after the paint and stain has been fired, ready to be assembled into the finished panels. Nancy worked and reworked the ‘cartoon’ in order to perfect the details.
The ‘cartoon’ of the center section as drawn (full size) on paper and the same section of glass on the bench during ‘leading’.
The finished window after installation at Temple Beth El in Augusta. The journey from approval to installation is a long one requiring good communication and trust every step of the way.
Details of imagery representing Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippor on the left and the holiday of Shavuot when the Jewish people received Torah on the right. Applying & removing paint allowed for some interesting detail work.
Temple Beth El
A small, vibrant synagogue in Maine’s capital city, Augusta. The only Reform Jewish congregation in Central Maine that serves as the center of Jewish activity for roughly 115 families living within a 50+ mile radius of Augusta.
How could such a small place take on the challenge of incorporating stained glass into their building renovation?
And how could the project be completed in the throes of a global pandemic?
With perseverance and patience.
The community rallied and together we made it happen.
"Totally amazing – really beautiful. Thank you so much for your willingness to immerse yourself into our wonderful community and work so hard to bring it to life in art. It is everything that we hoped for and our community will cherish it for generations. A delight working with both of you."
Jerry Bley, Committee Chair
First step in fabrication is to get up there and evaluate the conditions to make sure it all fits and that the installation can go smoothly.
Drawing upon her background as a textile artist and taking note of the grid work created by the mullions on the existing windows, Nancy initially envisioned a weave enveloping the room. She created a visual language illustrating the Creation story that was juxtaposed onto the weave, with the weave itself illustrating subtle nuances and rhythms of the biblical text. Nancy didn’t have to let go of her initial vision of a weave; it served as a solid foundation on which to tell the Creation story.
We created a model of the chapel space to help all have a clear sense of the scale we were working with.
After the design was approved, full size cartoons were drawn in our Shelburne Falls studio.
A lift was brought into the chapel to allow for the installation.
Mark & Dave worked their way around the chapel.
Tohu VaVohu. 1:1 At the beginning of God’s creating of the heavens and the earth 2 —when the earth was Confusion and Chaos, darkness over the face of Ocean, rushing-spirit of God sweeping over the face of the waters—
Day Four & Day Five
And it was very, very good.
In the beginning, there was a beautiful octagonally shaped daily chapel in a synagogue in suburban New Jersey.
As lovely as it was, the light that streamed in was, at times, blinding.
After some significant brainstorming, it was decided that the Creation story should be worked on as a theme. The six days of creation and Shabbat would cover seven of the eight window groupings, leaving just one wall unaccounted for.
Rabbi Kirshner suggested that the windows over the ark celebrate the Jewish People.
What an honor it was to work with text translation by Professor Everett Fox and with a synagogue community who entrusted us with their magnificent space.
"These windows look gorgeous but complement in a way that make it seem as if they were always there. What a sacred and stunning addition to an already holy space."
David-Seth Kirshner, Senior Rabbi
of Pascack Valley
Woodcliff Lake, NJ
75’ wide x 8’ tall
It began in the Spring of 2005 with a request to help an established congregation replace old and drafty window frames, financed by bringing stained glass into the mix. Wilmark Studios was contacted because of its experience in all aspects of a project of this scope– replacing old window frames, supplying insulated exterior glass, in addition to stained glass design, fabrication and installation. Mark called upon a new friend, accomplished Judaic artist Nancy Katz, to meet the enthusiastic and hardworking newly formed ‘stained glass committee.’
Ayleh Mas’ay V’nai Israel – These Are Our Journeys
Inspired by Bamidbar (Numbers) 33:1: “These are the journeys of the descendants of Moses and Aaron,” the panorama represents the communal and personal journeys of the Jewish people throughout history.
With Torah as a foundation and guide, an open scroll provides the literal and metaphoric underpinning throughout.
"For years to come, visitors and congregants will continue to be awe struck…
Your creativity in design and the ability to transform it into stained glass represents very special talent with which each of you has been richly endowed.
This project serves as an inspiration."
Design Committee Chair
Design development from initial conception, to further refinement of the design, to the finished window.
Etching of flashed glass allows for depictions of the moon’s cycles and the application of vitreous or glass paint on the light box.
Four new windows on the Eastern Wall of the newly added Beit Midrash room (House of Study).
Tzfat (Safed), Jerusalem, Hebron, & Tiberias
Shiloh, Derech Bethlehem, Jericho, & Meron
Congregation Beth Aaron
Wilmark’s relationship with Congregation Beth Aaron began in 1986.
At the time Mark was working with Dutch stained glass artist Hendrik Vandeburgt. Henk & Wilmark made windows for Beth Aaron through the 1990’s.
In 2011, renovations to the synagogue brought additional window opportunities to Wilmark.
Henk had passed away, and Nancy designed new work.
Her first original design for the synagogue was a single Rosh Chodesh window. It was Nancy first venture into the world of painted glass.
Nancy & Mark went on to create a series of windows based on key biblical cities in Israel for the synagogue's new Beit Midrash.
Painting assistance by "Miracle Dave."
High Holidays with a shofar, pomegranate, & scales of judgement.
Temple Beth Ohr
Old Bridge, NJ
This synagogue sanctuary was designed with an interesting Star of David window at it’s center.
Our job was to embellish the existing window. We illustrated the central portion with symbols of Shabbat surrounded by the holidays of Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippor, Sukkot, Chanukkah, Purim, Pesach/Passover, and Shavuot. The side panels show an open Torah scroll and the Kotel/Wailing Wall using opaque glass to represent Jerusalem stone.