Adding class to glass to revive a forgotten art

TWO Eastern Cape women are reviving the art of stained glass which, they say, goes beyond the “elaborate cathedral windows and old-fashioned items from a bygone era”.

Gail Brown and Jacqui Holmes, from Port Elizabeth, are passionate about stained glass and are currently writing a book about the art. This will include a range of step-by-step stained glass art projects, as well as how to get started or pick up after a number of years’ absence. The book will be available towards the end of this year.

They started the Classy Glass Art Studio about two years ago and they also host workshops which are “very popular”.

“We have regular students who have been coming to us since our doors opened on January 17 and new ones joining our group of enthusiastic glass artists,” Holmes said.

“Our aim is to revive the art of stained glass. It is not just about elaborate cathedral windows and old-fashioned items from a bygone era.

Stained glass can be used by anyone to create modern, funky items for your own home or gifts for friends on those special occasions such as birthdays, weddings and Christmas.”

It is also “easy” to set up a work space at home to pursue this hobby.

“Lots of our women work here at our studio and at home in between classes.”

They also have items for sale at the recently opened The Pop Shoppe in Walmer, Port Elizabeth. Stained glass is “so versatile” and “we think that is one of the attractions”.

“There are so many things one can create from stained glass, from large complicated items to really small but effective things that make wonderful gifts.

“Glass is also so stunning, especially when there is light passing through it, be it sunlight or artificial lighting.”

They always try to come up with fresh ideas.

“When we are out and about we are constantly looking at everything we see with different eyes, seeing what we can gain inspiration from to create our next stained glass project,” Holmes said.

“About a year ago, Gail saw something while overseas that gave her an idea for a different kind of lamp, hence the idea for a bead and stained glass lamp was born.

“After much trial and error, we found a winning formula and have a whole selection of these beautiful lamps in stock. It is also an excellent way of recycling or reviving old and boring glass lamp shades.

“These lamps have proved to be very popular and are only available at our studio. Our finished lamps have been taken abroad to places such as the UK, Israel, Abu Dhabi and the US.”

Brown said they were “having fun”.

“We meet the most interesting people. We never throw away glass.”

They also take commissions for those who want to create something special like vases, suncatchers, candle holders, lamps, fruit bowls, stained glass panels and a wide variety of other décor items.

Last year, Holmes was nominated for the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa regional business achiever awards in the emerging entrepreneur category.

“I was one of the three finalists. It was an amazing journey and has helped our business tremendously.”

They offer workshops for beginners and more advanced people. They supply all the basic tools and equipment required, as well as a range of stained glass. They do not “stain” or “paint” the glass with glass stain.

“We work only with genuine stained glass manufactured overseas. Stained glass art is a wonderful, affordable hobby for men and women alike,” Holmes said.

They set aside a day every week, and work on “interesting and exciting projects” together, starting with small suncatchers, and moving onto larger projects such as fruit bowls, bedside lamps, table lamps, hanging lamps, candle holders and items they design themselves.

During school holidays they set up a week-long arts and crafts programme for children.

Brown said during the first lessons participants learnt to make little birds which they could take home.

“We do not do any stained glass projects with the little ones as we don’t think it wise to have a whole of lot of primary school kids running around with glass pieces and hot soldering irons in their hands,” Holmes said.

For more details visit the duo’s Facebook page “Classy Glass Art Studio” or website at

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