So you have looked through the site and you like my style, but nothing currently available catches your fancy. You have an idea for a custom piece and you want to learn more about the design process and costs... how does one get the ball rolling? Well, I'm glad you asked!
If I'm open for commissions ...usually there are only two things that would limit my availability for this; 1. is the time-frame right before the holidays... usually I get booked up for customs by mid to late November, so it's best to inquire early if you are looking to have a present made in time for Christmas. 2. There are some kinds of things I'm likely to pass on or send you to a glass artist who specializes in a particular type of glass or theme. For instance, if you want a fused bowl piece, I will refer you to an artist who makes those regularly, since I don't do much fusing and don't have a kiln. If you ask me to make confederate flag or something I deem in poor taste, well, hard pass.
Assuming I am both available and interested in your project, read on for a complete guide of everything you need to know before ordering a custom piece
First thing; CONCEPT! You may already know exactly what you want represented in glass.. if so, skip to the “Getting Started” section. If not, I have a bit of homework for you! The more inspiration photos you can collect to help communicate a full picture of what you are after, the better. These can be concepts from photography, art or really anywhere. If it's possible for you to open an account on Pinterest (or if you have one, create a specific album(s) and send me a link.) These could be dedicated to historical styles, colors, paintings, jewelry designs, icons, animals, pet portraits, graphics, tattoos, really anything at all that can convey a theme, sensibility, or stylistic elements to translate to a stained glass pattern. You could also send non-copyright protected imagery or photographs that you took if you want me to actually trace it for an actual copy. Tracing a photograph is how I do all pet portraits.
Other things to consider when trying to come up with vocabulary for a concept or style…
-Think about any strong decor or design preferences you like and give me a bunch of word associations to describe them.
-Do you tend to prefer design/fashion that is more traditional or modern?
-Bold, bright colors or muted, soft tones?
-Minimal or Complex?
-Contemporary or Vintage?
-Geometric or Organic?
-Kitschy or Sophisticated?
-Stylized or Realistic?
2. GETTING STARTED: We can discuss a lot of preliminary details via email, and when I'm ready to get started I will get back to you on a scheduled date for our first design meeting either by phone, or in person. FYI, I can usually finish a 10" piece with 30 pieces (about the average number) in a week, and generally costs $150-$300. Larger pieces up to 3’ X 4’ can be upwards of $1-2K, taking 3-6 weeks depending greatly on the glass chosen, number of cut pieces included, and whether you add on detail items like handpainting or wirework. Please let me know if you have a timeframe or occasion which dictates a specific due date.
3. DESIGN & PRODUCTION PROCESS: I can work up to three initial basic drawings for free based on your concepts and inspiration images, and provide a rough estimate for each of them. Then you would then decide which one you like best and if at that point you decide to move forward with the project, a deposit would be due of half the total estimate (including shipping, if needed) with the remaining half due upon completion. If further design work is needed to rework/refine one of the initial three drawings, a design fee of $50 (and an additional $35/hr for each additional hour) would also apply. This design fee is non-refundable. All past work (shown primarily on instagram or featured the photo books located at my shop) can be recreated without any additional design fee.
4. PRICING: Estimates are generally based on a $4 per cut piece, plus materials. Thus a 60 piece panel would be $240 plus the cost of solder, copper tape, chain and glass. Materials may end up being about the same as the cut piece price, resulting in around $500-$550 for a highly detailed, medium-sized piece. I can usually reduce the number of cuts made in the pattern, simplify the design and come down to a lesser budget, as desired. Glass costs vary greatly and can be chosen either in person at my studio or at a glass shop if purchased new (or a client may opt to allow me free reign to select colors that are generally mutually decided upon.)
5. PAINTING/WIRE-WORK: Additional wire work (wires added on top of the piece soldered in place along copper-foiled seams) or glass painting can be a great way to embellish a design and add detail without additional cut pieces. Pricing is estimated on a case-by-case basis in addition to the base price. Glass paint is fired to the surface of the glass before foiling and is a permanent application, but adds a day to the process due to curing time. I always recommend at least a little wire and/or paintwork to define details in pet portraits, but the choice is ultimately yours. (The white reflection in the eyes, hairs of whiskers, and variety of colors in a pet's coat can really make the piece come to life with the addition of these small details, and if there are only a few, likely is only $20 more.)
6. OVERALL SHAPE: I typically do representations of objects enclosed in some kind of a shape, like a circle, diamond, arch, square or rectangle. The edge can more easily be finished in a thick but flexible framework called lead came. An edge like lead or zinc came offers not only an opportunity for a background color but also adds structural integrity, protection, and longevity to the piece. Free-form shapes with many protrusions extending outside a frame are not as sturdy overall and leave the piece susceptible to breakage over time. If you want a pet portrait, I usually just do the head framed in a complementary color within a particular shape.
7. METHOD: I use the copper foil method, otherwise known as the Tiffany method, utilizing copper foil tape encasing the edges of each piece of cut glass, which is then connected together using a 60/40 lead-tin-based solder. I do not make Leadlights, or came glasswork which employs a different method using pure lead came as borders between glass, later cemented together using putty.
8. SIZE CONSIDERATIONS: My preferred size to work in is between 9-11 inches in diameter. SOmething larger ideally is around 12X24". This size-range is a good one for a variety of reasons, cut pieces are easiest to work with, it fits in most windows, and feels substantial enough to make a visual impact without being too obtrusive. The more detail a design has, the larger it needs to be, otherwise the pieces get to small to read well in a piece. The price point for the 11" diameter piece tends to be the most affordable, and the finished piece is easy to ship in a priority flat rate box for usually $16-$25. Again, if you have specific size requests, please let me know, otherwise, I will likely base the estimate at around 9-11”. Generally, the more detail a design has, the larger it needs to be, otherwise the pieces get to small to read well in a piece.
9. COLOR SELECTION: General color requests are welcomed but specific art glass selection might not be possible. I have a good collection to choose from in my studio, and can try to acquire new glass at my local shops; Bullseye Glass, Melt Glass or Rose's Glassworks. If you find a specific glass you wish to use, either in a local shop or that you already have, please let me know and I can potentially incorporate it into your piece and let you know how much materials credit I can give to lower your final price a bit. Keep in mind I can keep prices lower using my own collection of glass, but purchasing new glass from Bullseye can really increase prices by a lot. Iridescents, glow-in-the-dark, dichroic glass, textures, waterglass, mottled and colorful fused dots can all be incorporated into your piece at an additional cost, please ask if you would like to learn more about the many possibilities in fun glass to use!
10. LIGHTING/LOCATION: Please also let me know where the piece will be hanging. What kind of light will it get, both natural outdoor as well as artificial indoor? Is the frame wood or vinyl? I would love a picture of the space it will reside, so I can make a judgment about the type, weight and length of chain to use (or nylon-coated steel cable) and fill you in on all the options for hanging your piece. Stained Glass can be hung on a white wall and still be able to see colors, but is usually best hung in a window.
11. LEAD-SAFETY: Lead poses a health risk only if a significant amount is ingested or if lead dust is inhaled. It's best to wash your hands after cleaning or handling your piece, but otherwise, there's no cause for concern in simply owning a stained glass piece in the home. Unless the object is kept within reach of small children or pets, there is no cause for health concerns for your family or plants. Jewelry, trays, candle holders, business card holders and anything handled regularly is made with 100% lead free solder.
12. DEPOSITS: Once you have paid your deposit, I can get started on your piece! There's no contract to sign, but keep in mind that your deposit is NON-REFUNDABLE except if I am able to sell your piece elsewhere. If you change your mind at the end of the design process, I keep the piece and if it sells while on display (either in-store or online), I am happy to refund any amount back to you that you have previously invested.
13. PAYMENTS: I accept Venmo, or major credit cards via Square or my website themagichourglass.com as preferred options for payment types.
My Venmo ID is @Tamara-Goldsmith or follow the link or QR code;
14. SHOP APPOINTMENTS;
If you live in the Pacific Northwest and want to come to my studio you can also pay in cash, and pick up your piece in person. For website purchases just select "in-store pickup" at checkout and skip the shipping fees.
My studio is located at 4828 N. Williams Ave, Portland, OR 97217. The front window here is one of several places you can see new work in person at any time. It is illuminated for viewing to the public 24/7.
Other places to see my work;
BONEJAX vintage furnishings & Oddities; 8040 SE Stark St. Portland, (503) 477-4592
Workshop Vintage; 4011 N. Williams Ave. Portland, (503) 206-5813
All Burn Wax; 1022 W. Burnside st. Unit P. Portland, (503) 810-7469
Memento Gifts; 3707 NE Hawthorne. Portland, (503) 235-1257
If using Venmo, please use the friends-and-family option if you feel comfortable with that, which saves us both fees. If you wish to pay by card I accept all the major ones for an additional 3% fee for payments over $100.
Please keep in mind that art glass, solder, copper foil, paint, came, chain and all the tools and equipment required to make the work that I do are extremely expensive, but I work hard to streamline the process and keep the final quote as affordable as possible and strive to make it financially accessible.
Thanks for reading all the way to the end of this FAQ page! Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions if you have any.
I so appreciate your support and look forward to working with you!
Tamara A. Goldsmith
Magic Hour Glass
4828 N. Williams Ave
Portland, OR 97217