Members of the museum genealogy committee July 24 toured Art Glass Unlimited, the studio and art glass workshop of father and son Jerry and Greg Mowery.
The firm, which moved to Pacific in October 2017, is a family business that restores art glass and creates new projects for churches, commercial properties and private homes.
In the 3,500-square-foot studio and workshop at 214 S. Fourth St., colored glass hangings vie for space with beveled glass doors and windows. From ancient church windows to hangings depicting modern art, the front windows of the shop display an eclectic mix of colored glass.
Albums with photos of every project completed by the 40-year-old firm occupy the bottom shelf of a library table that is laden with Tiffany-style lamps.
Every job is a custom job, created to the customers’ specifications, Greg Mowery said.
Nothing is mass produced here, but the creative side of the father and son team creates unique wall hangings to show clients what can be depicted in painted or colored glass.
In a storage section of the building, floor-to-ceiling bins hold panels of glass that are stored according to size and color. Although most jobs are completed with new glass, bins of antique glass of every vintage color are waiting to make repairs in existing windows.
A wall-to-ceiling cabinet of drawers contains thousands of pieces of glass of all colors and sizes.
Assembling all the elements into the finished product is the work of a lifetime.
Whether it is creating a picture of the Blessed Mother holding the infant Jesus, a bust of Adolphus Busch looking down on a flag-draped woman holding a stein of beer, a fire breathing dragon or a perky red cardinal wielding a bat, the process is the same.
In Jerry Mowery’s design room, every new window begins with a life-size drawing, known in the industry as a cartoon. Jerry, who was hired by a St. Louis art glass firm in 1963 as an artist, draws the cartoons for each window.
Once the image of the window is drawn, he pencils in the lines where each piece of glass will be cut and leaded to hold the window together.
The process from idea to completed window can take as long as two months. Painted glass goes into the kiln to set the paint. Leaded windows are soldered and waterproofed. In the final step, the lead seams are cemented to make the window rigid.
The Mowerys said their move to Pacific was an easy one. Communication through webpages and cellphones gives customers access to their capabilities.
When they decided to downsize from their 5,500-square-foot building in St. Louis, they wanted a place that had less traffic and a sense of community.
“We both live in the area, so Pacific was an easy choice,” Jerry Mowery said. “Who wouldn’t like to come to Pacific?”