Indiana Glass Trail
to include Jefferson County,
highlight stained glass in area
to preserve church windows
Lela Jane Bradshaw
Youre changing the light with the type of
glass you use, restoration artisan Rhonda Deeg explains of the
power of the stained glass windows in 1839 St. Michael the Archangel
Church in Madison, Ind. It changes with the sun and the clouds
and the rain.
Her words capture the magic of glass that has inspired Indiana artists
and art connoisseurs for well over a century, and her work is helping
to preserve one of the sites that is helping put Madison on the Indiana
Restorations to the windows of St. Michael began in 2009 during a field
class being taught by Deeg, who serves as Director of Programs for Historic
Madison Inc. She also teaches traditional historical restoration trades.
The students assisted in a survey of the windows of the church, recording
information such as condition and placement.
During that class, the ventilator window was taken apart for restoration.
Last fall the window was returned to its proper home, ready to last
another 200 years. Deeg explains that it took 150 hours to clean and
restore the window, made up of 186 individual pieces of glass. The repair
work was necessary to address not only the normal damage brought about
by weather, pollution and sheer time, but also to fix issues brought
about by improper repairs done back in the 1970s.
To Deeg, the restorations are a way of connecting the present with the
past and the future. In readying the window to stand for another hundred
years she is also holding homage to the person who built it.
Today, tourists can explore the past present and future of Indiana glass
through the the Indiana Glass Trail, which serves as a way to link and
promote communities noted for glass arts. From Kokomo Opalescent Glass,
the oldest art glass company in America, to the works of Dale Chihuly
on display in Columbus, to the glass classes being developed at Ball
State University, Indiana is home to an ever growing tradition of glass.
Established in 2009 with a $10,000 grant from the Indiana Artisan program,
the Glass Trail has its roots in the Kokomo-Howard County Convention
and Visitors Bureau and currently highlights five areas of the state
with glass-related tourism sites. The Trail helps tourists locate festivals,
artists, and displays of interest to glass lovers through promotional
brochures and website information.
Next year, Madison will join Harrison County, home of Zimmeran Art Glass
in Corydon, as new southern additions to the Trail. Director of the
Indiana Artisans Program Eric Freeman said he hopes that the Trail will
continue its expansion saying that a goal is to identify glass-related
reasons to include additional counties from Brown and Bartholomew south
to Jefferson and Harrison.
Linda Lytle, executive director of VisitMadison Inc., notes that, Anything
we can do to get people here for the first time is a positive
thing as once guests make that initial visit they almost always want
to come back.
Freeman agrees, saying, The Trail will encourage people interested
in glass to visit, but Madison will keep them there because of everything
else the city offers.
While Freeman has plenty of anecdotal evidence that the Glass Trail
has had a positive impact on the tourism of featured sites, he points
to two concrete examples of the programs influence. Before the
establishment of the Glass Trail, Kokomo Opalescent Glass Co. gave only
occasional tours. But after the Trail began, it added a daily,
week-day tour schedule because of the demand. Freeman also points
out that the Indiana Office of Tourism Development says the Glass
Trail brochure is its most requested response piece.
Madison was initially identified as a site that would make a good addition
to the Trail because of the historic stained glass windows in churches
throughout downtown. But Lytle is now busy collecting information on
artists working with glass throughout Jefferson County today.
Freeman believes that it is important to feature a mix of historic sites
and contemporary artists on the Trail because some want to see
historic stained glass; others enjoy it more in a museum setting. Collectors
want to visit galleries and exhibits, others like glass-oriented festivals,
and, of course, there are those who want to roll up their sleeves and
Indiana offers all this, and one goal of the Trail is to identify
everything Indiana offers that is glass-related, present that on the
Glass Trail website but also create new content from it in the form
of weekend trips people inside and from outside Indiana can take that
will be completely immersive in Indiana glass.
Being a teacher, my first thought would be to educate the people
about what we have here in Madison, reflects Deeg.
She points out that while it may not be an official part of the Glass
Trail, many downtown houses and businesses feature period beveled glass
windows and doors. She hopes that the addition of Madison to the Glass
Trail will provide a way of engaging the public and celebrating
what we have here.
For more information, visit: www.IndianaGlassTrail.com.
Back to September 2012