A Craft of Color and Light
Thom Berg reveals his stained glass artistry
Looking at the stained glass works of Thom Berg, one finds a spark that sets his work apart from traditional folk pieces. Organic shapes, unique subjects, and vivid color schemes compose works that set the scene of spiritual concepts, candid moments, and abstract design. It is a style that has been mastered with skill.
Berg’s journey with glass stems from a kitchen remodel two decades ago. While in the process of resurfacing his cabinets, he realized leaded glass would finish them off nicely. After some research and estimates for commercially made glass, he took the challenge upon himself. Since then, he’s completed restorations, personal and corporate commissions, as well as a large body of personal work.
Describing the process of his work, Berg says he starts with a cartoon, or actual sized pattern upon which a drawing or design for the panel/window is created.
“The pattern indicates where each piece of glass is going to be on that panel and can be nearly anything, from a classic leaded glass transom to a Marine bulldog in a Pittsburgh Steelers’ football helmet,” says Berg.
Creating commissions for clients is a cooperative endeavor. He has them approve the pattern and choose the glass, and from there, they pick the method of assembly they like.
“Some clients that come with a definite idea or picture of what it is they want, provide a challenge,” Berg explains. “They know what they want and it’s my job to successfully satisfy that vision. But, on the other hand, those clients that say that they want some glass here or there, but don’t really know what, present a different challenge. They actually do have an idea and it’s for me to find it.”
According to the glass artist, he is up for the challenge posed by any creative client.
“I find their vision by looking at the room they want the glass in, the colors around the area, the style of the home, etc.,” he says. “The more we throw ideas out, the design just seems to coalesce, to come together as a joint effort. In both cases, the satisfaction can be immense.”
Reflecting on his decades of work, Berg is particularly proud of some of his early work and the ongoing relationships that emerged.
“I can’t forget the work still being done for my first contract commission, Scott Wherry, and all the fine folks at Primrose Retirement Communities, making entry doors or windows for the chapels in their various facilities around the country. When I think about it, each commission has been unique, and that’s the way it should be.”
Berg finds the challenge of being an artist is the balance of providing a service that is affordable, professional and unique. And his artist statement reflects this philosophy.
“There is nothing quite like marveling at a stained glass window in a darkened space, immersing oneself in the qualities of design and detail, and then suddenly being enveloped in an overwhelming burst of color as the sun moves from behind a cloud,” he says. “The experience provides the viewer with an excitement for which there are no words. If my work can convey even a portion of this excitement, I will be satisfied.”
Berg describes the greatest reward from his work as the moment when a client sees their stained glass in place and backlit for the first time, and they say, “It’s exactly what I wanted!” //