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John Edward Zawadski

John Zawadski designs stained glass and fused glass windows for houses, churches, and businesses. The artist also does reproductions of Tiffany and Frank Lloyd Wright lamps. He has been at his studio in Northville, Michigan, for 26 years and has become something of an institution.

In the early years he worked in a studio where the master artist had been trained in stained glass techniques by Old World American artisans.

Upon opening his own studio, Zawadski designed commissioned pieces, taught classes in stained glassmaking, and participated in the leading art fairs in the region—but he was still learning. As the commissions increased with a building boom in the 80’s, the time-consuming classes ended. With their new houses people were interested in adding stained glass to their front entrances, interior doors, kitchen cabinets, bathrooms, and butler’s pantries.

There was also a reawakening of interest in the stained glass artistry of Louis Comfort Tiffany. With 50 original Tiffany designs currently available to reproduce, Zawadski excels in crafting these reproductions and a few that are not readily available.

Zawadski also designs a variety of original lampshades, and has worked with a wildlife artist to create spectacular depictions of birds, flowers, and trees.

Zawadski procures glass for his work from some of the leading manufacturers in the U.S. For opaque glass that he uses in lampshades and fine window work, Zawadski prefers the hand-rolled art glass of Schlitz (Wisconsin), Linns Glass (mixed by Wilson in the late ‘80s) (Florida), and Kokomo “Catpaws” (Indiana). Other high-quality sources include Youghiogheny (PA), Bulls-Eye (Washington), and Uroborus (Oregon).

Much of his current work comes from people restoring and remodeling old houses—particularly those from the Victorian era. Homeowners interested in preserving the home's authenticity will try to replace windows, doors and other features with reproductions of the originals. Those with newly constructed homes are adding stained glass elements throughout.

When working on a commission, such as a window, Zawadski first meets with the client to discuss the window design and size specifications. The client can either request a specific design or direct him to create an original one.

One of Zawadski’s most ambitious commissions (and a real favorite of his) was creating stained glass windows for Ward Presbyterian Church in Northville, MI. The job required two circular windows—one 12 feet in diameter, the other 8 feet in diameter. He loved the challenge of working with large sheets of hand-blown glass and big swatches of color to achieve the desired effect. He still makes stained glass windows the way they have been produced for hundreds of years.

For another recent commission, which was both exciting and memorable, Zawadski designed two large 2 feet by 8 feet side entrance windows into which he incorporated large sections of his original designed fused glass.

In contrast to these massive projects, he also loves to work on intricate lampshades and windows, picking out intensely beautiful art glass for the fine exquisite designs. Zawadski is an excellent colorist.

Over the years, Zawadski has developed and deepened his craft and artistry—carefully and patiently—by doing, designing, and experimenting. Zawadski has a real talent for choosing the most beautiful colors from a wide array of glass to best fit the project at hand. He enjoys reading about what other glass artists do and, when needing to meet yet another challenge, he speaks to his colleagues in the stained glass industry, for an exchange of ideas and experience.

"John Zawadski's workmanship is excellent."

—Joy Hakanson Colby
Detroit News Art Critic

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