Small Business Spotlight: Pike Stained Glass Studios

June 27, 2019 09:07 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) -- The detail is stunning and the craftsmanship -- unmistakable.

They are the work of Pike Stained Glass Studios. Located on St. Paul Street in downtown Rochester, Pike is one of the oldest stained glass studios in the United States.


Valerie O'Hara is the president and designer.

"You name a church in Upstate New York, we probably had something to do with it," said O'Hara.

O'Hara started in the stained glass business working part-time for her parents at Pike at the age of 12.

"This company started in 1908 by my great uncle who worked for Tiffany Studios in Long Island before coming to Rochester, and it's been in the family for 111 years now and three generations," she explained.

In that time, the colorful work of Pike Stained Glass Studios has adorned more than 850 churches, schools and homes. From the abstract design at St. John's of Rochester to the gothic revival of Third Presbyterian Church.

Ever wonder how those images are created in glass? O'Hara gave News10NBC a tour of her 4,000 square foot studio.

News10NBC's Brett Davidsen: "When you're commissioned for one of these jobs, generally how long will it take?"

Valerie O'Hara: "Completely depends on the size. We just completed St. John Fisher College in 2017. That was 12 windows that were 5 1/2 x 14 feet high each, and that took a year."

Like that project, they all start with an idea. Once a client tells her what they're looking for, O'Hara creates a small scale watercolor painting as a proposal.

"If approved, we do a full-size drawing. From that, we make three copies and one stays whole, one gets cut into individual pattern pieces and the glass is cut from those pattern pieces," O'Hara said.

The glass, imported from Germany, is her palette, as she painstakingly selects the right colors to fit the design. She then uses the paper patterns to cut the glass into the proper shapes.

The glass can then be enhanced with ceramic paint, which is fired onto the surface.

Lead is then fitted between the glass pieces. The pieces are bent, cut and assembled. The joints are then soldered to keep everything in place.

Other than maybe electric soldering tools, O'Hara says there's been little change in how their windows are created.

"Because the technique is as simple and direct as it possibly can be and it hasn't really changed since the 12th century."

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Brett Davidsen

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