Adding a touch of class
with stained glass
...and a dash of drapery design
By Harry Funk, staff writer
Washington Observer-Reporter | Sunday, March 21, 2004
centuries, stained glass has lent its special aura to houses of
worship. Eventually, people brought the artistic medium to their
eventually, many people dispensed with it.
glass was once considered trash. People threw it away," said
Juan Rodriguez, contemplating the countless pieces of art that were
lost when mid-20th century homeowners began redecorating.
Soccio and Juan Rodriguez with some examples of Juan's stained
on display at their Monongahela home.
artists like Rodriguez, stained glass has been making a comeback the past
few decades, as people have reawakened to the distinctive flourishes the
pieces can add to a home.
was a lost art for a while, work that at one point in time was not appreciated,"
said Rodriguez, who operates his own art glass studio in his Monongahela
the only artist in the family. His wife, Judy Soccio, also has a home
related business, Comforts By Design, in which she creates custom draperies
and soft furnishings. When her husband is not working on stained glass,
he installs her window treatments for clients.
said his clients usually come to him with an idea, and he'll sit down
with them to work out the details. "There are limitations in the
medium, and I have to spell them out," he said. "I have to educate
them as to what stained glass is. First of all, it's a misnomer. It's
of Stained Glass 101 will inform you that the various colors are created
by a chemical reaction with another ingredient when glass is in the molten
stage. For example, the introduction of gold changes glass to ruby red;
other metals in various combinations produce different colors.
formulating an idea, he sketches it out as a full-sized cartoon.
He then cuts the glass to fit using a carbide-tipped cutter.
preferred method of construction is similar to that used for Tiffany
lamps: application of copper foil to the perimeter of each piece
of glass, to help it bond to the pattern, then placement of continuous
lines of molten solder.
gives you a nice, even line and a thin line," he explained.
The more traditional method "the one going back to medieval
times" - involves inserting the glass into grooves in lead
cames, or strips, and soldering only at the joints.
"The problem, for my artwork, is that it's too bulky," said Rodriguez.
of Juan Rodriguez's stained glass specialties is creating domes
for homes, featuring series of flat glass panels.
of his work include many pieces with extremely intricate designs, such
as his creations based on one of his favorite themes, Hindu art.
always loved Indian architecture, how complex it is and how detailed it
is," he said.
has worked with stained glass for 14 years, and he and Soccio, a Peters
Township native, moved to Monongahela from Illinois 11 years ago. Their
house serves as a home and workshop, as well as a showplace for some choice
examples of their art.
been sewing since age 12 and for many years has done window treatments
for her own homes, which have tended toward the older models.
like vintage homes and doing the vintage treatments," she said. But
she also has found a market for newer homes, particularly the ones being
built with room to spare. "'They can handle something very dramatic
on the window."
her husband, she meets with customers to learn all about what they
have in mind to decorate their homes.
talk. I want to know what they have, colors and that sort of thing,
and if they have ideas," said Soccio. Based on what they're
telling me, I will bring out design books."
also encourages customers to show her designs in books and magazines
they find appealing.
I tell people, clip the stuff you don't like, as well," so
she knows what to avoid.
finished products show plenty of imagination.
example, "The Carnegie" is made from upholstery that reminded
her of the type of suit Cary Grant would wear. She fashioned the
upholstery so that it resembles a suit coat with the effect of cuffs,
shirtsleeves and cufflinks, and named the creation after Andrew
The creations of the husband-and-wife team often are mutually exclusive; after all, who would want to cover stained glass with draperies? At times, though, their work can complement each other in larger spaces.
"There are a lot of homes where we've done the same rooms," Soccio said. "Just not the same window."
window treatment creation by Judy Soccio, as displayed at the
recent Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show.