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Stained Glass – Project Commentary

Homage to Georgia | Treehouse Bedroom Windows | Swirly Derly Color Curtain | Studio Amber Triptych | Granada Treehouse Studio Art Installation | Shabbat in Three-Part Harmony |

Ode to Priest Lake | Deconstruct to Reconstruct | Color Chains | Canyon Window | Wedding Ketubah | Studio Glass | Reading Room/Library

Thesholds | Bougainvillea | Handrails | Assorted | Living (Eternal) Walls

Garden Tercet aka Manny's Birthday Installation aka Papa's Memorial aka Homage to Melissa's Writing

A slight variation on our stained glass projects, this takes glass, mirror, and pebbles to form mosaic posts. Installed March 30, 2020, Manny's 80th birthday, one day after Papa passed, and in the second semester of Melissa's exploration of poetic forms. Like most other projects, this started as an artistic place filler. It was originally intended to go next to the studio where the coleus was first intended. Just like the coleus, Melissa decided to change the intended location and place them in the garden. She is so smart. The individual "lines" in red, green, and blue look much better spread apart and placed among the flora of the back yard. We love how the surrounding area gets reflected in each line.


Homage to Georgia

September 7, 2019, a day where openness and collaboration won out.

Doug had been looking at the empty corner of the yard between the studio and Canary Palm for a few years. It was, and still is a canvas screaming for attention.

The project started with hanging cardboard under the studio eave to get a sense of size and proportion. The cardboard and ductape finally deteriorated enough to have to take it down. Doug knew he needed to get started, but had not envisioned a concept or image, only some basic sizes. The final piece is 42" by 25". After taking numerous diversions, Doug decided on a representation of the coleus, an homage to Georgia O'Keeffe, it's a coleus people.

After finishing the piece, clearly we needed a worthy frame. Chris MacBain showed his wood working skills at several of our GTS trunk shows, we loved his zest for life, his talent, and his family. Who better to bring craft and creativity to the project. See the results below.

September 7, 2019, Doug was reminded that collaborating brings perspectives that you may not have considered. Thank you Sandy Davis and Melissa for seeing the project through different eyes.

Treehouse Bedroom Windows

Doug started the bedroom windows a long time ago...or long enough that we don't remember when. We do know that the second window from the left shone its glorious northern light into the bedroom the week Doug's mother, Cecelia, died, July 30, 2011. Window three met the first two on April 9, 2018 and window four, installed, but needs putty, May 31, 2018. It's interesting to see the evolution over seven-plus years. The first two windows were clearly in process as far as color and shapes. The next two windows get tighter and more consistent in color. Reading left to right, the chaos of life and death lead a clear path to the bright and alluring rabbit hole. But, reading right to left, rules and imagination flow out of the status quo to create a more diverse view of the world. Either way, the light shines through and stimulates a journey. Where? Who knows?

Windows one and two completely overlapped.

Windows one and two partially overlapped.

Windows three and four partially overlapped.

Swirly Derly Color Curtain

As with all of the other projects, we kept looking at the BBQ and thought, something needs to go there. Well, after looking and avoiding and looking and avoiding, we finally arrived at the combination of the handrail panels, a garden piece over the work table, and our three new "underwater" planter boxes. This is the biggest piece we've created, six feet long and 18" high. It worked, but we managed to not learn about aligning hooks directly over a vertical support...oh well. Love the colors and the trees and sky reflected in the pieces of mirror.

Studio Amber Triptych

We originally wanted creeping fig to cover the studio walls. Ryan suggested we didn't, so we finally designed a triptych to fill the walls instead. We were not concerned about the light going through all of the glass so we included mirror for the first time. Lesson learned, don't slather flux onto the lead cane and allow it to overflow onto the mirror. Oops! The result, the mirror corroded. Although, we decided that it gave an "antiqued" look and are living with the design "feature". Looking at the center piece through the kitchen window is a constant movie reflecting the bougainvillea and anyone who walks down the ramp.


Granada Treehouse Studio Art Installation

Many–OK, all–of our projects grow out of spaces that scream for attention. In the case of this art installation, we wanted to have a showcase for our poetry, art, quotes, and events. Of course, it had to have stained glass as a component, but it also needed the talents of our dear friend and fellow collaborator, Ryan Turner. The timing worked out, and Ryan was looking to have a little fun. As he said about the frame, it's really only four pieces...with many possibilities. When we went to drop off the glass, he was already pondering which direction to take. He offered several material options, but had his eye on some eucalyptus trunks and branches by his workshop. It turns out that the eucalyptus is a perfect choice for multiple reasons: it represents the origin of the name, look, and feel of the Granada Treehouse Studio; the image in the glass represents the eucalyptus grove in the canyon behind our home; and eucalyptus provides a natural material to complement the surroundings. We have to say, this could be one of our favorite pieces so least until the next project. Stop by and share in the beauty of the treehouse and South Park.


Shabbat in Three-Part Harmony - September 14 - November 23, 2016

We were honored to have one of our pieces selected for "Revisiting Shabbat" at the Gotthelf Art Gallery.

For our family, Shabbat represents a gathering of light, family, and friends, where we engage in creative energy, hopeful conversation, humor, compassion, delicious food, and sincere reflection–shared freely. Where we honor the end of a week, just as we embrace the cycle of life. 

To address the theme of Shabbat, we created a set of three triptych panels to represent the passing on of our traditions, l'dor vador, to keep them alive. 

Each panel represents a generation. The red and amber symbolize the vibrancy of youth. The transition from amber to greens and blues represents growing into adulthood where we take on more obligations and responsibilities, and the final transition to deep blues and purples holds the grace of age and wisdom.

The panels also show how constantly changing and unexpected reflections and interactions among the generations yield beautiful results, lives that tell worthy stories shared at our Shabbat table.


Ode to Priest Lake

Melissa has been going to Priest Lake in Northern Idaho with her family since circa 1974 and created lots of memories with family and friends. This stained glass piece was designed as a 54th wedding anniversary gift for Melissa's parents, Julia and Scott. The piece was modeled after a crayon drawing Doug made while sitting on their dock overlooking the lake in 2008. It could be one of the most beautiful places Doug has ever visited.

Deconstruct to Reconstruct

We finished this piece on July 30, 2015, which marked the fourth yahrzeit of Cele Estrin Kipperman. Among Jews, this is the anniversary of someone's death, especially a parent's. Every time we see this piece we think of all that Cele and Lew shared with us.


Color Chains

An on-going series of stained glass "color-chains" was stimulated by staying in bed a little longer to contemplate

the beauty of a rain-soaked morning. Not all who take their time are lazy.


Canyon Window

Inspired by the ketubah frame that hung behind our wedding chupah and how it added a fillip of style and sentiment to our canyon view during the ceremony, we decided to replace it with a permanent piece. We stretched the design to make it a little more abstract, but borrowed a variation of the color treatment from the studio bathroom doors and the open spaces of the bougainvillea–still working and still loving the process, not to mention Doug loving his muse, Melissa.

Wedding Ketubah

For our wedding, we wanted to create a frame for our ketubah, a Jewish wedding contract. Of course, stained glass was the natural medium for the frame. During the ceremony we hung the frame behind the chupah, the wedding canopy, overlooking the canyon behind our home. We inserted the actual signed ketubah in the panel and then hung the framed piece in our dining room as a reminder of our beautiful partnership.

Melissa McKinstry and Doug Kipperman’s
Glowing Ketubah

21 December 2014 – 29 Keslev 5775

Our Eden of dappled light holds
elms stretching generous arms
pomegranates marking time
bougainvillea housing birdsong
hummingbirds and butterflies circling flowers
friends and family circling tables–
dancing and cooking in the kitchen.

Living here we’ve stopped longing–
for this is the whole O of the world.

So today, the shortest day of the year,
as the sun moves in its southernmost arc
and silhouettes the eucalyptus,
we banish darkness with light:

the flicker of the Hannukah candles
the glow of the fingernail moon
the warmth of one hand in another.

Our home will continue to be a place
filled with light:

creative energy, hopeful conversation,
humor, and compassion–

shared freely.


Studio Glass

As we created our studio, we found a few opportunities for glass. Of course, when all you know how to work with is a hammer [stained glass], everything is a nail [stained glass].

Hallelujah Chorus triptych over the studio doors that open onto the side yard.

Color spectrum triptych over workbench in the studio


Studio bathroom doors


Reading Room/Library

Melissa loves reading. Melissa and Doug love honoring their families by living amongst their heirlooms. Melissa received several boxes of books that belonged to Pa, her maternal grandfather, and felt his legacy needed an appropriate place to reside. Hence, the small sun room became the reading room and library. We were delighted to have some bookshelves built, and of course, they needed stained glass inserts. Melissa and Doug both love sitting in this room to ease into a morning or to capture the last bit of sun in the afternoon.

" I discovered me in the library.
I went to find me in the library."

Ray Bradbury



One of the first projects we started was the front door. The piece on the lower left was the prototype and it was going to go outside by the entrance to the yard. When we finished the piece, we loved it so much that we asked Ryan to create a frame so we could install it between the living and dining rooms. We have to say, it is our favorite piece of all. Of course, we have more work to do...



The bougainvillea uses space between the colored glass to let the background show through. We have two in our bedroom looking out at a mature bougainvillea. We love the view.

Garden bougainvillea glass

Bougainvillea with a combination of lead, copper, and open sections located in the garden.

Twin pieces in our bedroom looking out at the bougainvillea. I am fascinated by the color and movement which makes it difficult to get out of bed...

The bougainvillea is one of a few representational pieces we have created. The majority of our work is nonrepresentational, abstract, with an emphasis on color, line, and shape. We have fit glass into window frames, hand rails, and free hanging without frames–all are very pleasing.


Special treatment for our handrails

Ryan made the mistake of recommending we put a "Chippendale" pattern in each section of the handrail...really Ryan...? Well, you guessed it, stained glass won out. Each panel traverses the color spectrum with a singular line going through it. For some stupid reason we thought leaving an empty space would function as a wind pass-through...not so much! But, it does look pretty cool. Every time we walk on the deck or ramp we are treated to a little color splash.

Handrail - blue to green

The last two of eight pieces designed around the color spectrum in a deck and ramp handrail.

Handrail - green

Each piece is centered on a six-foot section.
Blue green handrail Green handrail
Amber rail glass Amber red rail glass


Assorted applications

Ironically modeled after Melissa's dread of the triptych boards Sarah Rose had to create in school, we designed these more appealing triptychs to capture and diffuse candle light. We light the candles almost every night.

Gate glass

Front gate entry way.

After creating the small and large candle screens, we saw an opportunity for a mid-sized triptych and this is the result.

Our Hannukiah brings us hope in the darkest time of the year.
Ryan designed and built the frame for the glass.
Yes, we do love him.

We created a series of ten Hannukiah based on our original design, each with different glass variations.

After about 35 years from taking his first stained glass class, Doug took one with Julia, Melissa's mother, at the Coronado Adult School. We were restoring our home and living with Doug's mother, Cecelia, in Coronado. There were eight meetings scheduled, Doug made it to three. Life! A year later, Ann, Melissa's sister, was going to come over and work on glass. She never made it over, but Doug set everything up and finally finished this piece he started in the class, a year earlier. Persistence pays off, and we have thoroughly enjoyed all of the subsequent work.


Living (Eternal) Walls

We collaborated on the design of this piece below with a very talented friend, Ryan Turner. He applied our idea and appreciation for sustainability by using materials that will last and require a minimum of maintenance. We showed the piece when our home was featured on the South Park Old House Fair tour June 2011. We enjoyed many favorable comments and interest.

Eternal wall

Eternal wall detail

Eternal Wall - Full Size [left]
Details [center and right]

Eternal wall detail

This eternal wall is made of Trex and copper with stained glass. This 4' x 6' version contains LED back lighting and a built-in irrigation and drainage system.

Eternal wall - mahagony

This eternal wall is made of mahogany and copper with stained glass. This 3'6" x 3'6" version contains LED back lighting.

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