St. Catherine of Siena’s windows made in Kansas
Stained glass was a catechism for the illiterate when it was initially utilized over 1,000 years ago in Gothic cathedrals. That Catholic heritage continues in the Diocese of Wichita through church renovations and new construction.
Scott Hoefer, owner of Hoefer’s Custom Stained Glass in South Hutchinson, works for churches and other businesses in the region to restore deteriorating stained glass windows and design and build new ones.
Father Dan Spexarth, the pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Wichita, commissioned Hoefer and his team to design and construct windows depicting the seven signs from the Gospel of John.
“So we did a rendering of the healing of the blind man,” Hoefer said, “and it just started from there.”
The stained glass windows that will illuminate the church and educate the faithful also include windows depicting the turning of water into wine, the healing of an official’s son, the healing at the pool of Bethesda, the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus walking on water, and the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
Windows are 14 by 10 feet
The windows are about 14-feet tall and 10-feet wide with nine sections per window made with German hand-blown glass.
“We work with a very talented artist named David Fode of Waukesha, Wisconsin,” Hoefer said. “He does a lot of our design work and painting on the glass.”
Hoefer employees also do some painting, he said, and then cut and assemble the windows.
After a request for a window, Fode will conceive and execute a small-scale line drawing. After that’s approved, a color rendering of the line drawing is made. After the customer is satisfied with the color, a full-sized charcoal drawing is made of the window.
“That way the customer really sees the full facial and the background – how the window’s going to truly look,” Hoefer said.
One the concept is approved, the stained glass is cut, David paints the glass if needed, the window is assembled, and finally installed.
Process is complicated
The number of steps to construct a window are few, but the process is complicated and requires years of skill.
“Each piece is probably fired four or five times in the kiln,” he said. “We start out with the lines, and then we start putting on backgrounds, taking if off, shading, putting on more shading – it’s quite a process. People have no idea of it when they see these beautiful old church stained glass windows of the time involved.”
After laying the pattern on the floor of the first window they worked on and seeing how large it was “it took my breath away,” Hoefer said. “But it’s all been coming together.”
He added that he didn’t think he and his team would be able to complete all the windows by October, but that he believes they will have the windows finished this month.
“I’ve got some of the best help – there’s nine of them. And I couldn’t do it without them. They’re very talented.”
Now that the job is nearly complete, Hoefer said he is able to reflect on the outcome.
“It means a lot to me because it’s been a work in progress for 40 years of my life now,” he said. “And I can go sit in that pew someday and just remember everything.”