The South African stained glass market is starting to realise that stained glass can feature not only in traditional designs but also in more modern and appealing designs, says stained glass artist and stained glass design company Live Light Stained Glass owner Francois van der Merwe.
He notes that the use of stained glass in modern architecture is growing, with an increasing number of people having a better understanding of stained glass as a decorating medium.
Consumers are motivated by their desire to be different, which pushes designers to create fresh and exciting designs, says Van der Merwe.
“We just have to keep exposing clients to what can be done with stained glass and to keep pushing design boundaries,” he says, adding that the future of the industry is promising, as more people are starting to have an open mind about new design methods.
However, Van der Merwe notes that there is a lack of qualified stained glass artists in South Africa, which sometimes leads to consumers enlisting the services of self-taught artists who do not have the appropriate technical knowledge and skills to produce quality designs.
“For instance, on a number of occasions I have been exposed to situations where the self-taught artist attempted to restore church windows, which resulted in irreversible damage,” says Van der Merwe.
Live Light Stained Glass is involved in all aspects of stained glass work – from the design and manufacture of new windows to the conservation and restoration of existing ones, he says, with customers comprising homeowners, churches and “basically everyone who has or wants stained glass”.
The company installed a ceiling for restaurant and café Tashas in Canal Walk shopping centre, in Cape Town, last year. The 1 m x 9 m ceiling consists of 1 800 pieces of glass, all individually suspended and back-lit with down lighters.
It also restored the clock tower watches last year for the Toring Kerk, in Paarl, in Western Cape.