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Featured Windows, April 2005

St. Clair Shores Public Library

Building: St. Clair Shores Public Library

City: St. Clair Shores

State: Michigan

As a 21st century sign of creature comfort in our public libraries, the St. Clair Shores Public Library, bordering Jefferson Avenue and Lake St. Clair, has a new coffee house... with very interesting stained glass windows. Part of a multi-purpose grant for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the city of St. Clair Shores, an archive was added in the lower level and the library extended their existing building to the east for the coffee house. This addition also includes a "Friends of the Library" gift shop and a reading lounge. Designed and constructed by students from the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit, there are five separate floor-to-ceiling panels of stained glass. Three of the panels measure four' by six' and the other two are alongside the front entry and are each 1' by 6'.

In the past 25 years, this is the fourth stained glass project with which various students at CCS have been involved--other installations are at the Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham, and two separate installations for the Huntington Woods Public Library. All stained glass work has been under the tutelage of CCS glass professor and section chair Herb Babcock of Oxford, MI. Babcock received his BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art and his MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI.

Familiar with the other stained glass projects in greater Detroit libraries, the Library Board contacted Mr. Babcock at CCS and then met with several students who were selected to be part of the project. According to Mr. Babcock, the St. Clair library project was divided into two parts. The first was connected to a major Studio class in which the students learned the parameters of designing for large-scale work. Then the students met with the Library Board where it was suggested not have a "nautical" theme, but instead to have a theme of "nature." The students returned several times with possible designs until an acceptable image was achieved. Babcock stated the overall goal was to produce a work of art that "conveyed a sophisticated, modern look, but also provided a serene, calming view for library visitors." Those students involved in the design phase were Kevin Carlin, David Helm, Inga Glover, Erin Gross and Jason Provins. It was the design of Erin Gross that was finally accepted, which allowed the viewers to focus more on the stained glass and less on the parking lot beyond. To that end, translucent and textured glass was used on the bottom with transparent glass on the top to see the ever-changing expanse of sky.

The second part of the project was the actual making of the windows. This was done outside of class with the majority of the fabrication done during the summer. As CCS has a well-known hot glass studio, students and faculty produced the numerous roundels for the windows, some as large as 12 inches in diameter, in the hot glass studio. The remainder of the stained glass and materials were purchased locally. As with all stained glass in the fabrication stage, a large glass easel was necessary for laying out the composition so all the color and light issues could be worked out.

The project has been very well received by the library patrons. A trip to the east side of Detroit would not be complete without a stop in to see these very interesting--and locally designed and made--stained glass windows at the St. Clair Shores Public Library.

The St. Clair Shores Public Library was registered in the Michigan Stained Glass Census by Arthur M. Woodford of St. Clair Shores with assistance by Mary Jane Winkler; photographs by Barbara Krueger.

Bibliography: Show Bibliography

(MSGC 2004.0016)

Text by Barbara Krueger, Michigan Stained Glass Census, April , 2005.