Two Problems and How We Solve Them

I know we do things differently, you and I – we paint differently, we earn our living in different ways, we each have our different characters.

Which means I understand this: that my problems are not the same as yours.

But this actually makes it easier for me to talk openly, because I know I won’t worry or burden you when I tell you:

“These are the two things which cause me a huge amount of difficulty with the work I do …

Number 1 is a question of transition, of moving from one way of talking to another.

Here’s what I mean …

A sudden change of gear

The thing is, I’m naturally enthusiastic about the work we do here. And when I talk with clients, this enthusiasm shows.

I mean, I’m not shy, I don’t have anything to hide, I like meeting people and discussing the problems and potentials of their “open spaces” which our stained glass could solve.

All this kind of conversation and discussion is very natural for me; it all “flows”.

And can you see the problem coming up?

It’s that I find there is a sudden change of gear when I move from talking about quality (stained glass and its beauty) to quantity (stained glass and its cost).

It’s not that I’m embarrassed or shy about money.

After all, I worked in the City for 15 years. Each day we dealt with huge sums of money – it’s just money after all. Nothing to be frightened of.

No, I’m not embarrassed to talk about money.

My problem really is the change of gear.

I’m always looking for a smoother, subtler transition. One moment we’re talking beauty, the next it’s hard cash.

It’s a bit like someone throwing open the curtains and turning on the radio when you’re lying warm in bed with your favorite dreams – that’s how it feels to me.

I don’t want to make a big thing about this because actually, as problems go, it’s not that much of a problem. Over the years David and I have rehearsed and become accustomed to saying: “What’s your budget?” or “How much do you want to spend?”

And especially:

It will cost you between twenty and thirty thousand pounds and the only thing which will start to settle that is the design, which will cost you £1000 so let’s get going …

So I certainly experience the gear-change less abruptly than I used to. – Mainly because we usually do it in reverse now: I mean, I often talk big figures first (but I don’t mean over-playing it, because I wouldn’t find that natural), then talk passionately about the possibilities, and then return to money in more detail.

But I don’t suppose this problem is something that will ever go away completely, just because of who I am and how I work and how I run my business.

Yes: “How I work and how I run my business”.

Which brings me to problem number #2.

We don’t have a “product” – do you?

Again, I hope it doesn’t sound as if I’m grumbling or complaining, because I’m certainly very happy.

Yet problem #2 follows from the fact that we don’t have a product, a catalogue, a shop. We can make whatever someone wants – so long as we’re allowed to do it well.

And of course so long as someone has sufficient means to pay for it.

So now imagine we’ve agreed a provisional budget (“between £x and £y”) and made a suitable design, which the client likes, and so says “Go ahead: here’s your commencement fee”.

That’s all easy: the client is happy with the design, and we are happy with the budget.

But you know what happens next … nearly always?

It’s this: the design isn’t “good enough”.

I mean: not good enough in our opinion (not the client’s).

How could it be – it’s only a design?

And … we’ve never made it before (remember: that’s the way we work – other people do things very differently, making 9999 of something, which has its own problems!).

So eight times out of ten we think of 31 improvements which we’re absolutely set on making.

How can we ever resist?

Our stained glass is going to be there for a very long time, so how could we not strain every muscle to make the very best that we are capable of, even if this is something we hadn’t foreseen at the time we made the design?

Like right now – if you were to call in on us at work today – you would rub your eyes and wonder at the sight … because we’re busy sticking about 496 small bits of coloured glass to the back of the tycoon’s 16 skylights:

Sticking the jewels

Bonding jewels to the back of the tycoon’s 16 skylights … it all takes time

But it’ll be worth it in the end:

The bonded jewels

All these unforeseen details will add to the effect; we’d rather do them than miss out on something good like this

Again, when we’re doing our estimates at the start of a project, we have a work-around. Say the initial budget is settled at between £10,000 and £15,000 for example. Then we’ll always prepare the design as cautiously as we can, aiming at the lower figure, then ensuring there’s money which is kept on the table for contingencies and so forth. This works very well, and has kept us out of danger many times.

So those are the two big problems I’m often wrestling with: the shift from enthusiasm to money on the one hand, and, on the other, not being content with something’s “just” being good enough because we want it to be the very best. (I’m sure you understand!)

All the same, despite these “problems”, we’re doing fine.

Very well indeed in fact, with lots of work.

I won’t say more than that because I don’t want to tempt fate.

I hope you’re doing fine too, whatever the problems you face because of the kind of work you do and the care you do it with.

What are your big problems with stained glass?

And though I can’t promise to solve anything, I’d love to know the big problems you face with your glass painting – so do please write something below.

My thanks and best wishes,
Stephen Byrne

P.S. I admit it – my head’s often in the clouds. That’s why I forgot to mention this problem with getting to the studio this morning … no road:

 

A small problem - the road to and from our studio this week

A small problem – the road to and from our studio this week

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

34 thoughts on “Two Problems and How We Solve Them

  1. Hi Stephen,

    Really enjoyed reading your post and found the second part very reassuring indeed. I have only carried out a few small commissions but also reach the point where everyone is happy with the design and I begin to draw things out… then with the physical aspect of seeing the glass and everything coming together, I think of a better way to do it – returning to the customer since it may be slightly different to the initial design. I found it reassuring since while I love making pieces for customers, I thought that the “there is a way I can make this better” process was down to my being fairly new to the craft (which I am in the great scheme of things) and I’m glad that it appears to be part of the process of making the best piece that can possibly be achieved.

    So thank you for sharing your experience of this. I will carry on with renewed confidence – and I hope that you have a boat to get to the studio.

    Angela

    • Hi Angela,

      There’s an original Victorian design I’ve got, which I’ll copy and include the next time I write. It shows a set of windows for a church. It’s a scale design, some of it filled in with colour, some of it left in pencil. My point to both of us is: even though (as you’ll see) this design leaves out a huge amount of detail, everyone would know exactly what it would look like when it was finished. Even you and I, living in times which as as different from theirs as they were from the Babylonians. My point is, it’s not the amount that’s shown which “settles” it. No, it’s not that, though we might sometimes delude ourselves it is. It really is experience. We’ve got many years’ experience; you, fewer. We’ll never always know (because of the nature of how we work); you – maybe you will, maybe you won’t – but either way, in no way does it reflect poorly on you or anyone else, just as it doesn’t on us (though it would do if we didn’t develop professional mechanisms for shielding the client from our necessary uncertainties). It comes down to what we’re making, and also to our characters.

      And yes: carry on with renewed confidence, though I hope you see it’s your insight which gives you renewed confidence (not anything outside).

      Best,
      Stephen

  2. What a flood! I hope your studio is on higher ground!

    The business I’m in is sales of refurbished, high-end data storage equipment and services. Setting prices is a challenge. As expected, we have to consider what we paid for it (used). But even more important is its perceived value, and that is driven by the manufacturer’s reputation and the retail price of the item. What appears to be a simple 250GB hard drive becomes something quite different when it has this particular manufacturer’s label on it. And people are willing to pay for that – as long as they perceive that they are getting their money’s worth.

    It’s actually a sort of emotional response instead of cold calculation. The customer’s comfort zone affects every transaction. They get the brand name and all that implies in terms of quality and job security (“We only buy the best!”); and they also saved money! A win-win.

    Your situation is different, of course, since hard drives aren’t art. But the task of pricing is similar in that it comes down to perceived value. Yours is driven by the reputation of the product (your lovely stained glass!), your attentive treatment of customers, and your portfolio. This gives comfort and even Joy to your customer. Any product that can do that is a good buy and is at the right price.

    • I think you’re right about it being an emotional response rather than a simple, cold calculation. I’ve seen this apply even when dealing with people whose conversation is only focused on things which they can quantify, like price per square foot, time per square yard, milestones and installation date. Even with people like that – because, let’s face it, we all have different ways of talking. Underneath, however, something else is happening, even with these quantity-obsessed clients. And they are obsessed, because they give every appearance of caring more about these externals than that the windows will look beautiful (or, as in the case you mention) that the data storage equipment’s brand will live up to its reputation. But as you say, this is just appearance. Fact is, they’ve absolutely committed themselves so deeply to the windows’ beauty (or the brand’s deservedly high reputation) that these things don’t need discussing. And, hey! – is that emotional.

  3. Great post. It occurs to me that this is the one area where the amateur has a slight advantage: I only work on what I want to do and I can keep working and reworking till I’m happy with it (or can’t stand it anymore).

    Of course I have the downside of the amateur too – the problem of finding enough time to work (and rework) on it. My friends usually get their wedding presents a year or more late as a consequence.

    • You’re absolutely right about this: in different contexts, some problems don’t even appear above the horizon. Your case is where the post I wrote is useful though not relevant (if you’ll allow me this somewhat artificial distinction). It’s not relevant because you not caught up with pricing; it’s relevant in that our complications can serve to renew your pleasure in the comparative freedom which you enjoy.

  4. Wow! You’ve said so much in so little space! I love it! You guys know how to make it work and that’s a good thing. In today’s society, it’s so hard to make people understand that quality takes time. And being good at what you do is worth all the difference in the world. Thanks for all your advice and the wonderful words of wisdom! You guys are the greatest!

    Sorry about your road to the studio or lack of one! Oh well, gives you a good reason to stay home and write more of your wonderful tips and tricks! Thank You!

    • I like your point about “today’s society”. It’s something I’ve been working on a lot for the book we’re writing now.

      You know well how we focus on technique. It’s not that we’re technique-obsessed or anything. On the contrary: I will always encourage pragmatism. “Learn the technique,” I’ll say, “then adjust it or keep it for when you need it”.

      But the technique is subtly changed by the times in which we live because how we apply a technique is conditioned by our minds/brains.

      This is obvious in one sense. But I think that, what with computers and what they’re doing (good and bad) to the very nature of our attention, it’s no longer possible to turn a blind eye to the world around us. I mean, glass painters are so weird, they’re almost becoming rebels, like the outsiders in some dystopian science fiction story. We’re at the point where, if people are to paint glass well, they must somehow switch off the very skills which normal live requires them to have. This fact has now become part of the recipe (whereas 150 years ago, nothing needed to be said).

  5. This past Easter was the the 38th anniversary of my first stained glass commission. I really wish I had done better on that one but, oh well, with minimum direction the deed was done for the Lakeside Baptist Church in Pueblo, Colorado. So it was funny, as I read your post while peering out my studio window, waiting for the contractor and his client to preview my designs and take a look at the glass samples, to hear another artist speak of money. As it stacks up currently, this year may turn out to be especially good in that department. Like yourself at your studio, I hate to take shortcuts and it is when I have not charged enough that I make mistakes. My pieces are often “picture windows” with hundreds of tiny pieces composing the subject. Glass has been good to me. I honor the profession, the freedom of self-employment all these years, and the living that making a positive statement has given me.

    Tom Medlicott

    P.S. Thank you for the 1220 five minute soak tip. Haven’t tackled anything over than stippling but I plan to soon.

    • Yes, it’s interesting to review one’s life. It’s important we can look back and forward with some sense of understanding and happiness. The tale of Don Juan is important here: whatever we regularly do, it always has its consequences – but there are some honourable ways of caring for our own thoughts/feelings, and those of the people around us, which will protect us in some measure from damnation (which is not the case for Don Juan himself). Myself, I think it’s not glass painting specifically, but, as you say, not leading a life that is full of compromise and short-cuts. Congratulations on your 38 years!

  6. Some people think of it as your “Heart”, while others call it your “Soul”. I prefer to combine the two and simply think of it as my “Center”. It’s important when you decide to open your “Center” and share. There is vulnerability there with very little defense. But, as it is your truist place – for those who get that, your gift has been given in full measure and received full well.

    We all have to be of two person’s in what we do. The most important is the one who creates, because creativeness is our highest plane. Then we have to be the one who counts the beans and presents the numbers and closes the deal. Those who are successful are able to shift personalities well. Others need help from others to tell our story and get the funding to continue. Managers have a place and good ones are worth the money.

    Improving on my art can happen up to installation, which is hard on everyone involved. I’ve even played the “fulfillment discount” card. That’s when the customer isn’t aware of the extra efforts and you do it for free just to make it better in your eyes.

    I believe that you’ll find company in these areas and that all are empathetic. I say “Carry on with vigor and passion”.

  7. Stephen – greetings!

    I’ve been doing a trace of a hand holding a sketchbook over and over about 50 times to get all the squiggliness out. When should you stop worrying about museum quality and go to the kiln?

    Best,
    John

    • There’s no slick answer. In some sense, you can’t get all the information you need by just looking at your piece on the light-box. You have to bring a whole lot of imagination and understanding to bear on it, a lot of which you can only accumulate through … failure, which means firing, then honestly appraising there and then, and also appraising later on (which judgment might be gentler, or harsher, only time will tell). So consider firing it now. Otherwise one side of your mind risks wreaking damage not not just with your perception of the lines, but with the very lines themselves.

      • Sometimes you must fire the piece and just see how it turns out fired. I have spent countless hours repainting a particular line that is giving me heartache, only to find that in the long run, this line would look better more organic. We’re painting by hand, and some of the beauty of that comes not from perfection, but the emotional imperfections that give the pieces character. Some lines on the other hand, demand perfection. I agree with Stephen, consider firing and coming back later with a fresher perspective.

  8. Greetings from across the Pond.

    And what a welcome epistle in my inbox, although from the photo, it would appear that April Showers have indeed blessed you with a bit of watery overabundance. Better that than severe drought!

    But back to the 600-pound gorilla in the room: Money. It’s the age-old dilemma for all who create from the depths of their souls. What price is appropriate? Indeed. For all our heartfelt effort, there must be a price, for how else are we to sustain our existence and ability to create? To sell our creations places us in business, so we must be rational and realistic about the costs of goods and the labor to produce them, tempered by what the actual market will bear. One can be too “proud” of one’s results, and that vanity benefits no one. There is no magic answer.

    • Yes, the cost of goods and the cost of the labour to produce them: what we need to live, plus those legitimate luxuries whose denial would make us anti-social or conversationally unbearable to those around us … I myself am unhappy when makers sell things at a subsidy (say, because their partner cushions them from the need to charge the price their work requires) and also when makers over-charge because they charge for time and don’t have the skill to do things as quickly as they should be done. Well, I say I am unhappy: more specifically, I don’t do that myself, is all. How other people live and earn is their concern. Like you say: no magic answer. Just different approaches which are more or less successful in a particular context.

  9. ONLY 2 problems! Tra La!

    I most whole-heartedly agree with the perilous transition between concept, design and the proposed cost. It is awkward to put a value on one’s love and for me that is glass – but it is imperative if one wants to keep doing what one loves!

    I also fully agree with ‘upgrades’ to make the product as beautiful and strong as possible … after all – this IS our love and our personal representation we are putting forth.

    That being said, there has not ever been a project that I have done flawlessly. I always learn something and grow with each project. My gift to the glass is to do my very best and the glass’ gift to me is to teach me something along the way.

    • Yes. And I must remember to allow more time/space after each project to consider the things I’ve learned. Really learned. And although we may sometimes consider ourselves to be almost an endangered species (we glass painters), it’s salutary to realize how 19th century glass painters and earlier would rarely have had the time to consider the lessons of their work – for they dispatched their work with the speed and efficiency of (as we would see it) machines. (It’s an error to romanticize the past.) But we can – precisely because so many things are automated.

  10. Hello Stephen,

    First I hope all are doing great. As I looked at the picture of the water flood in your post I remembered the days when I was cycling these nice roads during my glass painting course on June 2011 – lucky me I only had to cycle with nice light rain back then.

    Let me say I liked the title you’ve chosen for this post. Yes you are right; we do take care of many things in our life differently, and also whatever comes with it of problems, living and painting are just few to mention. And I have to say that in your post you’ve covered a critical area in dealing with clients.

    I do believe it’s good to talk with clients in an open way, and showing your enthusiasm is good thing to do; because it reflects how much you love your work.

    You are not alone when you say how much you hate the sudden change in gear, when you talk about the quality of stained glass work some. Clients might think that you are just trying to sell them a product, so it can make one feel bad especially when you start to talk about the cost of the work. As you said in one of your old posts: some people will go for the least money they have to pay to do the work, while others will look and only look for the quality no matter what is the cost, because they want something that will last for many years to come.

    To me I think the most important thing to show is how much I care about what I do, present my case in the best way I can and show some of my work for any potential client, give them my website link. Not to forget to supply them with other local stained glass studios to compare and it at that point. If the client came back again, that’s fine; if not – I just wish him all the best with his choice. After all I am not willing to do work with clients that are just a time-bomb which might explode at any time and for any reasons.

    All in all, what you have written was more than useful, and it will always add more to my life experience as a stained glass artist.

    All the best to you and David and all your beloved ones.

    Hassan

    • Hi Hassan,

      That’s a good point. If you don’t have a “product”, it follows that you’re different from other studios. In which case, it’s a good idea to emphasize your difference by drawing the client’s attention to other studios (but they must be studios you can trust). That way, the client can make their own choice, an informed choice, in the full knowledge of what you do that’s different.

      Stephen

  11. Hello Stephen,

    I feel with you … these are the problems I used to have myself for many years.

    Nowadays I don’t even think about them; I just work for myself and put the price on my work which I feel is right, either for myself (if I don’t know the buyer personally), or for the buyer (If I DO know him or her very well.) I’d rather sell to someone who just LOVES the work they are looking at than sell it to some rich person who wants to buy it because he has understood that this is ART and/or that it will bring in money or respect for the person who bought it.

    My own problem at the moment is the simple fact that I am quite old now and my stock of paints, enamels and other stuff is still SO LARGE … I really want to go to my studio every day from early morning till late in the day, but there are many relatives and friends who need my attention or help, and the grandchildren just LOVE to come and spend time at my studio with their friends.

    From this you will understand that it is NOT a SERIOUS problem, but a very PLEASANT one; and I suspect that my stock will not dwindle very fast … Therefore, I look forward to many more very pleasant days at my studio.

    The other day I watched TV and saw HRH the Queen, sitting on a throne with a beautiful leaded glass window behind her. Was that the one which David helped with? Its colours and design looked very familiar.

    Kind regards,
    Ellen

  12. Cheers Steven,
    Well that post certainly drew a flood of comments. You have a way of touching on the topics common to everyone. When I first began making a living from my art, the biggest hurdle was getting over the issue of relative perceptions of “a lot of money”. Having been dissolute and penniless most of my working life, what seemed like a huge sum to me was often as not mere small change to my clients. I came to understand after the first few times my quotes were accepted with unseemly haste that I needed to be charging a lot more. My small business training taught that you should be aiming to miss out on about 30% of the jobs you quote for – if you’re getting 100% of them, you need to increase your rates.
    The thing you need to develop a feel for is the price point at which your client will visibly flinch. Then you back off just a little. If that point is below what you know your own ‘worthwhile job’ cut-off to be, then the window usually doesn’t get made.
    Except of course that it sometimes does, because having had the idea form in the space between you and the client, you almost always really do want to make it. I’ve never had a design materialise from who knows where that I didn’t want to make. In those cases, you just need to ensure that you’re getting enough out of it to make sure you don’t end up hating it. Sometimes, completing the job is almost reward enough. Like those little scrap jewellery boxes I do in spare moments. They take a bit longer to make than the amount I get back after gallery commission, but they sell and people really love them and I enjoy making them. So I just think of them as being almost worth making . . .
    Doug Cartwright

  13. Hi Stephen,
    I have read your last post and the replies with great interest and mulled over the contents for a few days. Is it just ‘us english’ that find it difficult to make the conection to money and creativity? Judging from your far flung correspondants maybe not! I think the concept is not just the extra work and materials needed to progress from the original design and their improvements during the creative process but also the connection between skill and cash.

    What sprung to my mind initially was ‘what is the price of love?’ Without sounding to slushy- to do something that you get great enjoyment from, to succeed and earn a living from it, be that task stained glass or in my former life cooking ,you have to put a piece of yourself in each product. To hone your skills, set yourself a high standard takes that extra bit of concentration, hard work, to go that little bit further to give YOURSELF satisfaction, (not just your customer) is the barter between skill and cash. It is a price worth paying on both sides of the transaction but is not an easy one in any field of creativity. That extra bit you put in a piece is a little bit of love and pricing and having that price accepted, that depends on where you stand not just as customer or creator, but where you stand in your chosen field of art or craft.

    The Emporere’s New Clothes Syndrome’ seems to be alive and kicking in every aspect of exchange of any sort. If the hype and exposure is directed at the right target audience the undiscerning can be convinced to part with their money in exchange for a stitch of fresh air. I think in this country in particular, we have lost sight of the value of well designed, hand created products.The brand name seems to carry alot more weight rather than the inspection of the quality or the ethos behind the item. Some big companies have been quick to jump on this angle but I think it has yet to filter down to the public’s awareness of the smaller producer.

    On the food front, the battle is on going and the education of the consumer has improved by a huge margin but that education needs to follow into other areas of creativity. To justify on a daily basis just why something created with great skill, commitment and that extra ingredient that makes it stand out from the rest- a little bit of love- costs what it costs,is an exhausting business. Sometimes this ‘battle’ is between producer and customer because of misconceptions on both sides but alot of the time it is just plain ignorance on the part of the client in what actually is involed in producing what they desire. But, sometimes the artist is not always the best salesman!!

    I often found the self made woman or man or the person who on the outside looked as though they couldn’t afford the very best on offer, were more likely to appreciate and understand the cost involved and the price of that extra bit of love than the customer with the where- with-all but no concept of the creative process.

    Off my soap box now!
    Thank you for your posts, I get huge enjoyment from reading your latest musings! Hoping the recent rainfall this weekend has not added to your waterfilled roads,

    best wishes, Amanda

  14. I av been doing stained glass panels as an hobby for about three years and have biult up quite a collection of of panels . each panel teaching me a litttle bit more ,my problem is i love the whole process of making a panel but my wife is now nagging the life out of me to sell some of my panel or give up making them . I am no sales person and do not now were to show case my work. I had a peace accepted in last years bradford open exibition which pleased me and passified my wife in the short term but as not solved my long term problem .

    • Hi Simon,
      Like you, I also built up quite a number of panels as I developed and improved my work, in the end, I just had nowhere to put them in the workshop and nowhere to install them without making my Edwardian home look like the John Soane museum http://www.soane.org/ they were about A4 and just under A3 size. Some I was very pleased with so encouraged by friends I cleaned and finished them, photographed them and listed some on Folksy. The interest and occasional sale has been rewarding and I now try and keep a balance between commissions, experiments (keeping them smaller) and finished items for sale. I’d be interested in hearing how other people tackle the issue since it must be quite common. Hope that you find good homes for your pieces Simon.

  15. Hi Stephen,
    Firstly let me say how much I enjoy your posts which I always find interesting, informative and easy reading. Probably without realising it you have become almost a personal friend to many of us subscribers. I love your work which for me sets the standard to which I aspire. I say the word’ work’ and herein lies the dilemma:
    Are we artists or business people? Where do we draw the line between artistic pride and doing just simply enough to justify the clients costs?
    Kind regards
    David Wilson

    • Hi David,

      Thanks for your message: I know how you feel, because we also get to know you, our readers. And in that measure we share in your triumphs and also – because this is the world – people’s losses when these happen. Thank goodness – because this is the world – it is mainly triumphs, because mostly life is good.

      You ask very good questions, and I could never answer them for anyone else, because these are questions about how we see ourselves and lead our respective lives. In whatever way we each chose to answer them, we must give them enough thought to reply convincingly and with as little self-deception as is compatible with being human.

      For myself, if I am called upon to answer you quickly, I will say that I do not do what I love, and that is because I do what I do to make a living, and so I am a “businessman”.

      But, if I don’t do what I love (myself, I keep that separate to money: and that is me, always keeping things as separate as I can), then I certainly love what I do: I will never again waste precious hours or days or weeks or months, doing things which make no sense to my own sense of self-worth. (Therefore, of course, I enjoy talking with you, and others.)

      As for drawing the line between artistic pride and justifying costs, I myself reckon there will never be a fast line to draw; there will never be an algorhythm, a magical formula or a silver bullet or what-have-you.

      There will just be stories which we can remember and then share with one another, and learn from and (one hopes) often chuckle about (because one sees that, however painful the lesson was at the time, the other person had a point, and now I’ve learned my lesson).

      How much more there is to say. And I am sure there are so many things you want to say. I hope you gather your own collection of stories and adventures!

      Thanks for writing.
      All the best,
      Stephen

      P.S. I keep things so separate I have been collecting a set of stories and suggestions about how to run a studio/paint glass for a living and also love what one does. I’ll write them up and put them out one day, though honestly I am just as interested if not more so in hearing from you and others about your solutions to these questions.

  16. The balance between doing what the client has budgeted and what we in our minds envision in a perfect scenario is always difficult. Often, even with the project on the table right now, we tweak the design as we go along, not because the client has popped in and decided to change something (though this has happened once or twice, and thankfully so little!) but because as the project evolves our understanding of the finished product matures. Often we go over the “budgeted” time and money set aside for any particular project, and other times we stay right on our target. It depends how much we are attached to any particular project. That desire for creating something of true beauty drives us sometimes more effectively then the money

  17. Hello Stephen,

    Good to be back on your mailing list. I’m more of a pencil and paper person and fear that gremlins must have invaded my PC and I lost the link. The last 18 months have been fairly busy and currently somewhat distracted with pending house move later in the year.

    I read your valuation thoughts with interest. I don’t have your painting skills and my glasswork is at a lower level but with a consummate passion for improvement having discovered that even a small amount of paintwork can transform the most basic window design. I think I have measured my glass career to date in replacing countless quarries!

    When someone asks me “how much will it cost?”, I have a standard answer:

    Traditionally, stained glass is priced on surface area, in old money £x per sq. ft.

    However, I think there are three main factors:

    Design,
    Fabrication, and
    Installation

    Design:
    Not unreasonable to expect that more complex and detailed work will cost much more than a very simple, basic design.

    Fabrication:
    Main factor being the quality of glass used. You get what you pay for.

    Installation:
    After years of trying to do everything myself, I have discovered the joy of finding a competent tradesman who is able to take care of installation work.

    I think the golden rule is never to quote on site during the first visit and take time to sit down and work out realistic costs. Most clients are understanding when you explain just how much work is involved.

    Best regards,

    Michael

    • Hello Michael!

      Can’t agree with you more about not jumping-to-price on the first visit.

      Even when the design is ready and agreed with the client, and there’s the sweet smell of success in the air, I still hold back, and at most will give a range. – Even at this point: because it’s unique, there are so many unresolved questions which will have an impact on the price.

      And ourself: we always exclude installation from the cost. So at some point in the discussion we agree a price for the full-sized design, then a price for the making. And all these costs must be met before the windows leave the studio. And then we fit then windows, which costs whatever it costs. This fee is one which the client settles afterwards: at whatever it costs (which doesn’t preclude an estimate).

      Lastly, yes: the joy of having a reliable person whose main job is to travel between studios and other makers, installing windows for them (hacking out old ones, making good the rebate, fitting, sealing with the right mortar etc.). Like you, we too have someone, and they are invaluable.

      Best,
      Stephen