Nov. 9, 2020

Episode #42: Richard to the Stained Glass Rescue

Episode #42: Richard to the Stained Glass Rescue

Stacy and Devyn welcome Richard Cann from the UK. Richard offers a fascinating look into the process of making art glass as well as the modern beliefs that lead people to replace British history with "plastic toy windows."

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In this episode, Stacy and Devyn discuss building products and techniques they'd bring back to the mainstream as well as modern construction materials they happily use instead.

Later, they welcome Richard Cann from the UK. Richard rescues stained glass windows from the dump and sells them as art pieces. Richard offers a fascinating look into the process of making art glass as well as the modern beliefs that lead people to replace British history with "plastic toy windows." 

At the end of the show, Devyn makes a big announcement.

Mentioned in this Episode


Richard and his Daughter

Three Bed Semi

Thank you for listening to True Tales From Old Houses.

Until next time,



Stacy Grinsfelder  0:01  
I'm Stacy Grinsfelder, from Blake Hill House.

Devyn Caldwell  0:04  
And I'm Devyn Caldwell, Our Philly Row. We're the hosts of True Tales From Old Houses.

Stacy Grinsfelder  0:12  
Hi, Devyn.

Devyn Caldwell  0:14  
Hi, Stacy. How are you? 

Stacy Grinsfelder  0:17  
well, good. That's a loaded question. You know, you know, you may not have heard, but we've just recently had an election here.

Devyn Caldwell  0:26  

Stacy Grinsfelder  0:28  
I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted. I'm just ready to sleep. What have you been working on at your house? I know, we're all kind of looking for ways to distract ourselves. while this is all getting worked out in the background.

Devyn Caldwell  0:40  
Well, actually, I've been working on my stained glass, I mentioned in a previous episode that I had started the hobby of stained glass. I've been devoting some time to it, I've been making different pieces. I am not trained in this. So I'm teaching myself and thank goodness for a lot of YouTube videos, because there's a lot of really helpful information out there. But it's exciting. And I'm having a lot of fun with it. And I'm exploring with it. And so, and coincidentally, today's guest is very involved in stained glass as well in a very different way. But more more about that to come.

Stacy Grinsfelder  1:16  
Right. And I'm curious Well, okay, so first of all, is it is it a chicken or an egg situation? Like, I can't remember where you already interested in glass before we had our conversation with our guests, was it just sort of coincidental?

Devyn Caldwell  1:29  
I was it was coincidental. Um, it all started like it was started a while back, but I got serious in August. And it was the end of August that I bought all of the equipment to do it. And then it took another like, five weeks to get everything set up. And so now I've been set up for a month and i've i've done like, six things. Yep, something like that. No, that's neat. We'll get there. Maybe we'll put some of it on the show notes, a couple pictures of some of what I've done so far.

Stacy Grinsfelder  1:58  
Yeah, I'd really like to see it. I haven't seen it either yet. So that'd be great. Here, I'm working on the living room, which basically involves painting and repainting, and then repainting some more because I have changed my mind so many times. But it's good. our living room is a really beautiful space. It has so much potential, but I feel like we kind of well, you can tell it's the first room we ever worked on when we moved here one of the first rooms

Devyn Caldwell  2:24  
well because it was green.

Stacy Grinsfelder  2:26  
Yeah, so green. So green and mildewy wallpaper, you know, just the nature of having an old house that sat empty for a while. But it's, um, I can see the places where I think, Oh, I would have repaired the plaster a little bit differently there. Or I can see where I painted and maybe cut some corners. And I remember, I was taking my time with it. So we did use oil based primer on everything. Thank goodness, we did that the right way. But I remember going somewhere I think. I don't remember where it was. And Andy just got a little bit tired of waiting. So he went in and did a bunch of painting too. And it's very funny. You can kind of see where it ended--oh, you know, it's it's good to go back and see how far you've come. How's that? Maybe that's all. I I think we have learned a lot in the last, gosh, seven, no, six years, six and a half years. But I was thinking about it in just a couple of weeks. It'll have been seven years since we packed up our entire lives and moved all the way across country. 

Devyn Caldwell  3:25  

Stacy Grinsfelder  3:26  
Yeah. It's a weird anniversary for me because I still miss California so much. But I think of the opportunities that I've had because we came here and that feels nice too

Devyn Caldwell  3:38  
That's great. That's great.

Stacy Grinsfelder  3:41  
Yeah. All right. Well, I guess we do have we have an announcement. We have one announcement right now. And do you want to take it away?

Devyn Caldwell  3:49  
Sure. Sure. I'll go ahead. So we are two weeks into our fall fundraising merchandise event. And you only have one more week to to get in on this. We are offering super soft unisex t shirts and hoodies and ladies cut v neck all in heathered navy blue. The details are on the website, and we posted photos and our Facebook group and on the Instagram page. And all the links to the preorder page will be there as well.

Stacy Grinsfelder  4:19  
Yeah, definitely. So we have had quite a few pre orders. Thank you Thank you to everyone who reserved  their t shirt or hoodie. It means a lot to us us. November 16 is the deadline for reserving merchandise. So put that on your calendar. Go ahead and submit your order you have one more week. And if you aren't interested in merchandise, which I get, but you would still like to support the show, then you are welcome to still make a one-time or reoccurring donation over on the website as well. So we usually talk about that during the commercial but today this is the commercial. 

Devyn Caldwell  4:51  

Stacy Grinsfelder  4:52  
We're doing it now. We won't interrupt the show again. We're just going to remind you about these wonderful t shirts and hoodies over and over again.

Devyn Caldwell  5:01  
And the proceeds from the merchandise run and your donations, they go directly to the cost of producing the show. They cover like sound tech hosting fees, software, you know, that sort of thing.

Stacy Grinsfelder  5:11  
Right, exactly, exactly. That is really the only announcement we have today. And thank you so much for everything that you do for the show when you share it with your friends and followers. just telling other people about the show, all of those things are so beneficial and keep True Tales From Old Houses going. So thank you very much.

Devyn Caldwell  5:30  
We really appreciate it.

Stacy Grinsfelder  5:46  
Today's question and answer is actually something that we asked one of our guests on an episode that's coming up in a future episode. But I wanted to know your answers, Devyn. So I thought we could I could ask you the same thing. And then you could ask me? Sure, go for it. Okay, the question that we ask is, or the question I want to ask you, Devyn is? It's two questions, actually. The first is, what is one product or method from the past that you'd like to see offered or used again? And then the flip side of that question is, what is a modern product that you're happy to use instead of its historic predecessor?

Devyn Caldwell  6:23  
So that's a really good question. Um, I have to say the very first thing that came to mind, for the product or method from the past, and there's a reason why it's not available anymore. But I would have to say, the old school toxic paint strippers that were out there, which I, you know, there's health issues and reasons why they're not available, and the carcinogenic, and all of that, but they were really effective. And, you know, he talked to people who've been around for a long time, and they will tell you how much easier it was to strip paint back in the day when they could use these chemicals. So I would like to see them brought back again, however, I think it's a matter of education, because in reality, commercial applications are still used. companies who do the services will still use them, not like on site, but like in their own facility. Dip and Strip places will use these chemicals, but they're just not available to the public. And if there was a way that the public could use them with education, it would be great, but I guess that's not going to happen, because unfortunately, there's always gonna be those who are not going to use them correctly. 

Stacy Grinsfelder  7:31  

Devyn Caldwell  7:32  
So the modern product that I'm happy to use instead of a storage product would be LDL beams. That's laminated...

Stacy Grinsfelder  7:43  
veneer, right? 

Devyn Caldwell  7:44  
Thank you-- laminated veneer lumber. That's the that's it. I don't know why I struggle with that. So when we had some structural work done in our house, they had to-- like we had some sagging of floor joists, and they had to sister in the beams and they use these LVLs, which were much more structurally sound. And so and they're more expensive. But by doing this, they were able to jack up the floor, like an inch and a half level it off. And we know it's not going anywhere. And I have to say that LVL lumber because you don't really see it, it's hidden behind plaster or sheetrock or, you know, it structurally it's just much better than traditional, like wood beams. And not to mention the fact that, who can afford to have actual wood like, you know, wood beams, like, it's just not that it's not reasonably affordable.

Stacy Grinsfelder  8:30  
So what makes LVL, LVL?I know it's laminated veneer lumber. But what does it look like? Is it thinner, denser?

Devyn Caldwell  8:38  
As I understand it, it's a lot it's kind of like a be made the same way they make plywood, which is layers of wood that are veneered where the grains are criss-crossed on each layer, except instead of a piece of plywood, it's made into a beam. And therefore it just has a lot more structural integrity. It doesn't shrink and grow with humidity the same way. And so it's just much more rigid and solid. And that's one area where as much as I love old houses and I'm always amazed by how well built houses were. There are some modern products where they're just superior.

Stacy Grinsfelder  9:14  
And for old houses too. It's generally sometimes --generally sometimes that that was vague--It is typically old-growth versus new growth lumber too, so something like an LVL makes a lot of sense. Hmm, interesting. Interesting. Let's see. So I guess I have to answer the question too. And something that I would want to be to bring back I don't know probably more copper. I love the use of copper in a lot-- I mean it's purely decorative in a lot of ways but it was more standard I guess to just kind of either --What do you call it when you put something put it over metal when you like if you have something brass and then you put copper over it. What is that called?

Devyn Caldwell  9:52  
Oh, it's not a veneer. (laughing)

Stacy Grinsfelder  9:55  
(laughing) A copper veneer. We can we can make up a word copper veneer. Oh my gosh--I can see it.

Devyn Caldwell  10:04  
copper. copper. Oh, I too.

Stacy Grinsfelder  10:06  

Devyn Caldwell  10:07  

Stacy Grinsfelder  10:07  
copper plated. Yes. All right. There you go. Oh my gosh, somebody give me a nap stat. I need a nap. So anyway, yeah, I missed like things like copper plating, copper gutters, that kind of thing. I mean, I get it. It's so not cost effective. But I was in downtown Buffalo, probably about, I don't know, three months ago or something, maybe even four months ago. And they were actually redoing an old building. And they were putting copper underneath the balconies and it was so beautiful. And I don't even know what this building is, you know, it was almost, it was a very surprising choice because it almost felt like not a nothing building. Every building is important, but it didn't feel like, Oh, this is a luxury apartment or this is a law office. It just felt like, hey, let's fix up this building. And since we're here, let's put copper and I just thought that is so gorgeous. So pretty. And I mean, people around here do use it for guttering still, but usually those houses are well, out of my price range.

Devyn Caldwell  11:10  
Yes, that's true. It also depends upon where you live, because you also have to be concerned about people stealing your copper,

Stacy Grinsfelder  11:16  
right? Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. So it's so not practical, but I think it's very beautiful. Yeah, I probably should have given us more thought because that is kind of a silly thing to to wish, like I have all these choices. And I pick Oh, can we just have some copper please?

Devyn Caldwell  11:30  
No, I think it's beautiful. We have a lot of quite a few rowhouses in Philadelphia that have like copper bays. And you know, when it's copper turns that incredible like green and then towards the brown. They're just it's just it's timeless and it just adds to it.

Stacy Grinsfelder  11:46  
As far as a modern products that I'm happy to use, I would say modern paints I am thrilled with modern paints. I know that maybe they don't wear as long as the old lead based offerings or even linseed paint but the cleanup-- the fact that they have low to zero VOCs. I am on board with that. Perfectly fine with modern paints. Yeah, easy to tint-- so many different color choices, kind of an endless, endless options with modern paint and no regrets there. I'll happily use a modern paint. That's it. That's my answer. That's That's all I got.

Devyn Caldwell  12:21  
That's a good one.

Stacy Grinsfelder  12:22  
If you have a question you would like for us to answer on the show. Please head to our website And there is a form that you can submit right there on the homepage.

Today's guest offers a new perspective. This is another window episode. But before you say another window episode, hold on because our guest Richard can has a completely different perspective. He hails from the UK, and he rescues and salvages stained glass windows to sell as art pieces or replacement sashes.

Richard  13:22  
My name is Richard Cann, and I'm based in the London Borough of Harrow. And I rescue old window glass from all over Britain. 

Devyn Caldwell  13:35  
That's wonderful.

Stacy Grinsfelder  13:37  
I have been excited about this interview all week. No joke, like the buildup has been pretty big. 

Devyn Caldwell  13:43  

Stacy Grinsfelder  13:44  
I know we planned this for months. And thank you for being here. It's wonderful to have you. 

Richard  13:47  
I'm very looking forward to it as well. Because after the UK,  the United States is my biggest market has been for a long time. So I'm always interested to interact in whatever way I can.

Stacy Grinsfelder  14:00  
Right. That's interesting. intriguing, too. I'll we'll get back to that. Sure.

Devyn Caldwell  14:03  
So Richard, we've done several window episodes on the podcast, but we're really interested in your English perspective. What's happening to old windows in the UK? Are they removed as often as they are here in the US?

Richard  14:14  
Yeah, I mean, we're just like you we've got old houses, and we have the same we've had the same mentality since the 1970s. That it would be a good idea to strip out old wooden windows from beautiful houses and replace them with plastic toy windows. You call them vinyls, we call them PVC. What I thought your listeners might find really interesting is that not only were our windows wooden, but they were made with very interesting types of glass. A lot of it is stained glass, and perhaps later we can talk about what I really mean by stained glass. But what it all has in common That it's not made anymore. It was discontinued from production decades ago. Because like most of our manufacturing industry in Britain, it's dead now. And this glass is, what it has in common is that it has different textures. Even if it's not colored as a stain, there were hundreds of different types of glass which were painted. And it's usually put together in a window panel, which we in the trade called leaded lights. Most British people won't know what the leaded light is. But again, it's referring to the fact that it's just glass held together in a lead structure, because it may not be stained glass glass would be very interesting. And often, most of the time, these leaded lights, these window panels will be in wooden window sashes, which make them great for exporting to the USA, well, anywhere in the world where people care. Now, so since the 1970s, as I say, we've been stripping these out of houses around Britain, so there aren't that many left. No,

Stacy Grinsfelder  16:10  
Are you? I'm sorry? Are you stripping them out for the same reasons that are the same, quote, "reasons" that we do in the US for energy efficiency and such as that the main reason why, or people just not interested in the decor anymore?

Richard  16:22  
Both really, I mean, we, as a country, I just say, I think Stacy, way, a double glazing salesman comes along and tells you Oh, that's not energy efficient. The crazy thing is now I'm sure it's the same in your country. The window companies now are taking out plastic toy windows, which were fitted in the 80s. So they're not even replacing wooden ones anymore. That's because they only last about 30 years.

Stacy Grinsfelder  16:51  
Right. Right.

Devyn Caldwell  16:52  
That's why they call it the replacement window industry is because they need to replace the windows, right?

Stacy Grinsfelder  16:58  
And now let me stop you again. Real quick. Sorry, just for a second, because I want to say I mean, UK, we talk about here in the US we talk about old houses. But when we're talking about the UK, I mean, you are next-level, old. I mean, you have houses that are what 400 years old, older than that I you know, here we're talking about maybe up to 200 years might be exceptionally old. But it's a different story there.

Richard  17:21  
Where I normally take rescue or Windows from off from houses that were made, were built in usually in the from the late Victorian period, to the 1960s. I mean, yes, you can get older houses, but they've got to be structurally fit to be living. As I say it was that period between sort of a hangover from the arts and crafts movement, when people wanted something, sort of from the medieval period is that sort of design in their houses. So it's domestic stained glass dealing mainly. And again, when we talk about different types of stained glass, we could talk about churches and cathedrals.

Stacy Grinsfelder  18:06  
Let's do let's do let's go there.

Richard  18:07  
But from a commercial point of view, I'm it is old houses that don't take taking form from the Victorian period.

Stacy Grinsfelder  18:17  
You talked about there are differences in stained glass. And I'd love to hear some of those and different types Go for it. 

Richard  18:22  
A while ago, you had somebody named Rhonda on. And 

Stacy Grinsfelder  18:26  

Richard  18:27  
she started by saying she inferred that there is so many different types of stained glass, really, this term is used generically for all sorts of 

Stacy Grinsfelder  18:39  

Richard  18:40  
Now, the glass stained glass you've got on your show notes. That is that color is made at the point of production, okay, it's a chemical compound process. For instance, if green glass to get that color, you would add copper, and an interesting fact is original pure red glass was made with gold. 

Stacy Grinsfelder  19:05  

Richard  19:06  
So that is that is the color there is made is in Don't ask me how exactly it's done. But then the other more traditional stained glass is when the glass has been painted onto after it's been made. And it has been kiln fired. And the true perhaps the true definition of stained glass is when silver nitrate has been added to it. And they started doing this around the 14th century. That's what gives the unique sort of yellowy brown color. So to give us a cliche example if you look at especially in religious in churches and cathedrals across Europe, there will be halos around saint figures, that's the silver nitrate Okay, so some people will say that is the true-- that is a true definition of stained glass. Now, the glass I commonly take out of houses is colored glass, the type Rhonda uses and, and your guests Lee Ann

Stacy Grinsfelder  20:07  
Oh, yes, Lady on Chestnut.

Richard  20:09  
That huge window that is all what I'd call colored glass because you know it has to be affordable. And that's the reason why there's so much of it was made that to actually be painting every single pane of glass and kiln firing it that takes a long time. So in houses say from the from the Victorian period onwards, there will quite often be a mixture of both what I call colored glass, and some little elements of painted glass, for instance, in the middle of a in the middle of Victorian doors, it would be typical to have a painted picture of a bird or plant. And the rest of it will be colored glass around it.

Stacy Grinsfelder  20:50  
Sure. So let me make sure that I understand this correctly, colored glass would be painted on and kiln fired and then you're talking about true stained glass might be made during the chemical process. And maybe a combination of both types of glass would be used in some of these older pieces. Is that correct?

Richard  21:10  
No, I think I got that mixed up. 

Stacy Grinsfelder  21:12  
Okay, let's try again.

Richard  21:13  
So painted glass is what some people will call true European stained glass. 

Stacy Grinsfelder  21:19  

Richard  21:19  
Okay, they painted it on, it's been hand fired and silver nitrates been added. And that tends to be more expensive.

Stacy Grinsfelder  21:25  

Richard  21:26  
what I call colored glass is when the color is made the point that when the glass has actually made. Okay, that makes sense?

Stacy Grinsfelder  21:33  
Yes, it does. So which one would be what color glass that you're calling where they do it when they create the glass? You're saying that would be the oldest type? Is that correct?

Richard  21:44  
No, no, I mean, it's all a chemical process. So it's not about age-- the practice of this trade is still practiced. And it started in (unitelligible). But things have changed, right? So there are people still practicing it to this day. So I may find some glass out of a house that someone commissioned say, in the 1990s. But I would hope I can tell if it is really old painted stained glass, Certain paint was used in the Victorian period, which is not allowed anymore. So for instance, arsenic was used lead was you can paint. I mean, I would hope by now I can tell the difference between something that's genuinely Victorian, and something that was done last week. That's not to say something that was done last week, the person who's done it isn't any less talented, or what have you. They just don't have access to the same materials. But they are learning the people who I commissioned because I also arranged for new things to be made. They have all been apprenticed, so this skills been passed down over centuries. And

Stacy Grinsfelder  22:57  
this is so interesting to me, Devyn, you're starting along this endeavor as well, do you want to share a minute what you've been working on or what your plan is?

Devyn Caldwell  23:04  
Sure. I Well, I've been interested in learning to do stained glass as a hobby. So I actually just acquired an entire stained glass studio, from a gentleman who's retiring from doing it after 35 years. And so for a fraction of what it would actually cost to purchase all the equipment, I have basically everything I need to start making stained glass. And so now I'm going to be learning it,

Richard  23:31  
that is really impressive, Devyn, that you've just taken on a home studio. I mean, it might surprise you to know, I have never touched a soldering iron in my life. And I have no intention of ever doing. So. Like we were saying earlier, Stacy, when you're self-employed, anything you do take so much time all my time is I mean, I'm a I'm a dealer of people go to my website, And sometimes they assume I make this stuff, which is kind of a compliment in a way. But all my time is spent marketing this stuff or acquiring it, processing it. And shipping it around the world, you know, there's no time and to for me to actually get involved in making it. And I'm such a perfectionist, I wouldn't be happy.

Stacy Grinsfelder  24:24  
It's my understanding that you used to restore windows for customers, but now you do spend your time in this business instead. And I'm curious, why is that and I would love to hear more about how you got started with your business.

Richard  24:37  
Right? Well, just to say I didn't actually restore it myself. I would I would arrange for someone else to do it.

Stacy Grinsfelder  24:42  
Okay. All right.

Unknown Speaker  24:44  
After a while, like Yes, so, I mean, that was something I can still do that sometimes it has to really be worth it because if you're going to take apart somebody's old window, take apart the lead structure completely re-lead It is really going to be worth your time and the person's time your commissioning to do. Anyway, how did I actually start? I was down at my local dump one day, although they would prefer us to call it the recycling center probably. This was about 10 years ago, error. And somebody was just throwing out complete set of stained glass window sashes. And I, I thought, Okay, well, I'm gonna take it, I'm gonna have it all. I wasn't thinking of money or anything. I just thought this isn't right. So I managed to rescue most of them. Put them in my boots, or the trunk, as you would call it.

Stacy Grinsfelder  25:42  
Words are nicer in the UK

Richard  25:45  
Yeah, well, someone told me a boot is something you put your foot. Anyway, I managed to get it all in the my little car, and I took it home. And I listened. And I thought, well, I'm going to have to sell it. I put it on a classified listing and it sold. And it just went from there. I always wanted to be someone who buys and sells things. I never knew what and it was from that day. Actually, it all started from there. And then neighbors when they started mutilating their houses with plastic toy windows. I thought, well, I'll help you out. I'll take that off your hands. And I started selling those. And then so that was a hobby for about five years. I just got obsessed with this. And one day, I decided to chuck in my well-paid professional job, which had a pension and sick pay holiday pay and everything. And I now just about scratch a living doing this.

Stacy Grinsfelder  26:48  
That's amazing. What a great story 

Devyn Caldwell  26:50  
It really is. 

Stacy Grinsfelder  26:51  
I'm an avid trash picker myself, I think, Devyn, I think I told you the story about I don't know that I've told it on the podcast before. But I'm also an avid runner, and I was out running the other day with my friend. And it was trash day on one of the streets. And as I'm running by, and we're doing intervals, which means we run really fast for a short period of time. And then we run slow. And during our rest period I am running by and out of the corner of my eye I see this giant what looks to be a plaster medallion that goes on a ceiling underneath the light. And I'm thinking, Oh, I bet that's just you know, PVC or foam or something, it can't be real. And so we get a little bit farther down the road. And I said to my friend, I said, I gotta turn around and see if that's real. We have to turn around. So we'd rather we turn around truck back to there. And sure enough, it was and a completely intact original plaster medallion that somebody was tossing out in the trash heap for the trash truck to pick up. And I can't let this go. So we ran over to my friend's house, got his car, drove it back, put it in in his boot, or as we call it the trunk. And now it lives at my house. It does not have a place in my house. But by golly, it doesn't live in the landfill right now either.

Devyn Caldwell  28:02  
I think they refer to those as a ceiling rose in the UK.

Richard  28:06  
Oh, right. Now I know what you're talking about. Yeah, sorry. And that's the thing. Sometimes when I go for collections, people offer me all sorts of things like ceiling roses, fireplaces. But window glass is compact. People ask me, why don't you deal in antique furniture and all this sort of stuff. But window glass, although it is obviously a volatile material. It is compact, which makes it good for shipping. Why I just stick to it. I suppose that there are so many different types of stained glass desert patterns and glass that it maintains my interest. I've never been interested in anything else.

Stacy Grinsfelder  28:47  
We've been talking about your website, and I will list it in the show notes. we'll mention it again before this episode is over. But real quickly, it's

Richard  28:58  
That's right.

Stacy Grinsfelder  28:59  
You have talked about finding all these windows and I am wondering, do you have a favorite type of glass or window to find? I mean, is there one kind that's hard for you to let go of?

Richard  29:09  
Do you know what Stacy a lot of my favorites are actually those which don't have which aren't stained, which don't have color in them? And maybe that's how I could talk about the difference between American stained glass and British. 

Stacy Grinsfelder  29:21  
Oh, let's do let's talk about it.

Richard  29:24  
On your previous episode, you had, Lee Ann had that a great big window. Now one of the differences with our domestic stained glass is that there will be a break in color. Whereas Lee Ann's was just full on. There's no break in colors, it's just loads and loads of color going on. So typically, our window panels will have background glass, which will mean it won't have color in it. But in the middle, there will be a colored pattern so it could be a rose or something or it could be a geometric design Art Deco or something. So there will always be that contrast. And but sometimes we have, let us say leaded lights, which don't have any color in them, but the texture is what catches your eye because when there's no color, it's like the sun just catches the texture, spot sparkles. I mean, this isn't gonna mean anything to you. But there's a particular type of glass called glistre glass, which is made up of tiny little pyramids of glass, which stick out the glass on one side that was made in most of the 20th century up until the 1960s. And people are still searching for it now.

Stacy Grinsfelder  30:40  
Can you spell that?

Richard  30:41  
Yeah, glistre- G L I S T R E

Stacy Grinsfelder  30:46  
I will try to find something about that and put it in the show notes. I'm interested,

Richard  30:49  
I can send it to you. Yeah. So my favorite class is not colored. And the other difference between American and British is that the glass you use is usually opalescent. So that means you obviously the light comes through it, but you can't see through it. And, and typically, especially in Lee Ann's window, the color is all streaky. So that's

Devyn Caldwell  31:16  
the UK glass, I've noticed tends to just be more solid color. There may be texture, but there's just it's more of a single color per piece of glass that you can see through versus the opaque swirls that we have here.

Richard  31:30  
Yeah, exactly. Yes, exactly.

Devyn Caldwell  31:32  
They're both beautiful for very different reasons.

Richard  31:35  
Yeah. I'm not saying I don't want to come across as this snotty English person who you know, we've got all the culture here. And it is, it is it is just a different it is a different technique. No,

Stacy Grinsfelder  31:48  
I did not get that feeling at all. And I find it very interesting to find the differences. You know, we're using Lee Ann, you're probably listening, hopefully. And if you are, we love your window. It but it is really nice to have that example. And that episode, I can't remember the number of that episode. But anyway, she talked about flow blue and her glass windows. And there are pictures on those show notes. So if you are listening, and you want to refer back to the windows that we're talking about now, be sure and check out our website True Tales From Old Houses because you'll be able to get a better picture and actually on the show notes for today's episode. We could also just repost that picture and kind of do a side by side for you. That'd be cool.

Devyn Caldwell  32:26  
That was Episode 36, by the way.

Stacy Grinsfelder  32:28  
Oh, thank you. You're You're good at that. I'm like episode Ah, something. Devyn remembers he's good at that.

Devyn Caldwell  32:35  
No, I don't remember I just have my notes up on the screen.

Stacy Grinsfelder  32:37  

Richard  32:38  
And another thing? Well, actually, I'd be interested if you correct me if I'm wrong. But the other difference between our domestic stained glass is that when you had stained glass in houses like Lee Ann's, it would only be in big, expensive houses, am I right? 

Devyn Caldwell  32:54  
You're right in that the really beautiful windows like Lee Ann's were and more expensive middle class towards upper middle class and above homes. But a lot of very simple homes for just the regular folks would have like one or two small windows, often like on either side of a fireplace, they would have like two square windows up higher up on the wall. And those would be like accent windows. So and that would have been for just regular middle class, you know, typical homes during and especially through the 1920s. But one of the differences that stained glass in the UK was popular, well into the 60s were is but in America, St. Glass pretty much fell out of favor by the 1920s. Well, in the 1920s, it was popular, but when the when the Depression hit in the 30s, most construction stopped and then suddenly everything shifted in the way they built, things shifted. And they stopped doing it. And I if you look at old Sears catalogs from the turn of the century, they had stained glass windows, they sold by the square foot and they were ridiculously cheap. It's kind of it's crazy how inexpensive they were. But you know, as we all know, the cost of labor came in and rose and it got to be too expensive.

Stacy Grinsfelder  34:06  
in the Midwest where I spent part of my life. You know, it's easy to find examples on either coast here in the United States, West Coast, East Coast, but in the Midwest, it was pretty common to have an extremely modest house very small or a farmhouse that might have had an a more English looking stained glass at that, like Lee Ann's example is incredibly intricate. But I lived in a house that had colored panes and a top sash in one window. And they looked very much like something you would find in England versus something fancy

Richard  34:37  
I think it would be interesting for me to tell you what a typical house where I get these from, like, 

Stacy Grinsfelder  34:44  
Oh, yes, please do. 

Richard  34:45  
Especially there was a particular boom in the 1920s and 30s housing in in Britain. And what we were building is what we call three-bed semis, which is just a single building. split into each house, each home would have three bedrooms at the top, each home, each of these two homes would have a big bay window on each level. And in the top section of these bay windows is usually where the stained glass would be what we call another trade term as we call them, top lights. And these are averagely sized. I've worked out them in inches, because I can't think in inches.

Stacy Grinsfelder  35:33  
Well, we certainly can't think in centimeters. So thank you

Richard  35:36  
But my website has got a conversion tool so people can excellent Anyway, um, these top lights would typically be in the size 20 by 24 inches. So as I say, so you do the math, in each bay window, there would be at least seven of these. So that was nearly at least 30 of these stained glass windows per house. And then, depending on when the house was commissioned, what the owner decided they wanted, there could be another set around the door. So that's why we've had so much that we've been throwing away in landfill, or those of us who are savvy enough have been shipping it around the world. But I say Our house is smaller. I mean, everything in the UK, I guess is smaller. Anyway, but we have more stained glass in our houses. It wasn't really, I don't think by the 1920s I don't think it even became regarded as an art form. It was just a standard part of the architecture, right? Whereas I think, especially again, going back to Leon's example, that was a statement piece. And that would have been probably the only piece in the house. And again, you correct me if I'm wrong, maybe they were a little bit because that was just so big. But whereas with ours, there would be it, you know, the pattern would have a continuing theme around the house,

Devyn Caldwell  36:59  
Interestingly on Lee Ann's window is that it was probably out of a catalog. There were a lot of manufacturers that would make these window units and they'd be in a catalog and builder would just order that one. 

Richard  37:12  
That's it That's exactly what we had as well actually. Even now I occasionally seeing classified listings, these old vintage catalogs from leaded light makers selling the patterns like you infer Devyn so the house owner in the 1920s Commission design that they wanted.

Stacy Grinsfelder  37:31  
This is fascinating to me. I am learning so much

Richard  37:35  
You know the thing is Stacy, most people my age don't even realize this is what houses had grown up seeing all this, poly-what's-it rubbish? One of myy Texan customers says we should call PVC by its true name. Because it actually stands for I've written this down. I wouldn't have remembered it. It stands for polyvinyl chloride colloquia that we should call it by its true name, which is putrid, vicious crap.

Devyn Caldwell  38:09  
I agree. 

Stacy Grinsfelder  38:09  
I absolutely agree. Yeah. 100%. So you were calling them plastic--were you saying plastic toy windows? T-O-Y? plastic toy windows, or what were you calling them?

Richard  38:19  
Yeah, I call them toy windows because they have this ghastly mechanism within the plastic which eventually seizes up, and you can never properly open that they're smaller anyway, because they've got all this mechanical stuff within them. You can never open a plastic window properly. You always find it. There isn't as much space as a traditional wooden window because a traditional wooden window just have simple hinges on you can open it as far as you like. Sorry, no, I could get carried away I shouldn't be negative as to the positive.

Devyn Caldwell  38:55  
It's okay. I inherited plastic windows in my house and I'm looking forward to the day when I can replace them with real wood windows. When my house was built stained glass wasn't common. So I won't be putting stained glass in my front windows because it wouldn't look right.

Richard  39:08  
Absolutely. And some people say to me, they look at my house and they say oh you haven't got any stained glass. I actually have if you look very carefully, they're just very subtle diamonds--red within the pattern that some people some houses were made very cheap so they didn't have an intricate design. I would never dream of changing at all to something just because I have stained glass. You know, I've kept house looking as it would have done originally?

Stacy Grinsfelder  39:33  
Well I think I mean we do kind of go negative sometimes when we're talking about windows and people get stuck they buy their house they they get what they get. I also like to think that on this show that we are passionate about our topic and we bring people on who are also passionate about their topic. So I

Richard  39:51  
will tell you what I think it is you might find this interesting. What we in Britain have in common with the USA is we are obsessed with homeownership that is in contrast to the rest of Europe. Okay. And I think with home ownership, that's our because we're obsessed with homeownership, and I say that while increasing section of our society and never gonna be able to afford to own their own homes, and I guess that's the same in the States. But nonetheless, we are obsessed with our-- got to have that mortgage got to have, whereas you drive into mainland Europe, and I'm talking about not Scandinavia, because it's really cold there. So they're obsessed with their triple glazing, modern stuff, you know, you drive through part of France, Italy. You could it could be the early Victorian period, because they've still got their wooden shutters. Drive through little villages, you don't see any plastic. And I think that's because they've got a rental culture there. You know, some people will rent a house for their life, won't they? They've got long, long leasehold arrangements and things. And I hate to say this phrase, it's really embarrassing. We have a phrase here I've heard it called an Englishman's house is his castle, which I think is ridiculous.

Stacy Grinsfelder  41:16  
We have a variation of that,

Richard  41:17  
like a lot of patriotic sayings, it's meaningless. But it makes you see reality in a different way. So, you know, people want to make their little castles, they've saved up all this money to buy a house. And I don't know if you have this phrase, they want to put this stamp on it. Do you have that?

Devyn Caldwell  41:38  
Yes, we do.

Richard  41:41  
I want to tell people what they might do with that stamp. But anyway. But people want to put their own stamp on it. So they want to do something quickly. And someone sells and we can just in a day, we can just rip out this these original features out of your home and put something in which is going to look sparkly, you know, the plastic fades after one loses that sparkle.

Devyn Caldwell  42:05  
One of our biggest challenges here, which is not just unique to Philadelphia is the house flippers, where, you know, our houses, our housing stock in my neighborhood is around 150 plus years old. And they've already been renovated at least once, sometimes twice. But a lot of times the same investor will buy a property for next to nothing because it's in terrible shape. 

Richard  42:29  

Devyn Caldwell  42:29  
They'll gut it. They'll put a brand new interior, and 160 year old shell, 

Richard  42:34  

Devyn Caldwell  42:35  
And then they can get a really good price for it. Everything's quote unquote, brand new. But it's all plastic. And you know, I talk I've talked many times about engineered floors, and potlights and sheetrock

Richard  42:45  
were the same. We've got housing development. I mean, yeah, people who just buy a house and they use this phrase, they're going to do it up, which is your equivalent to you're going to fix it up, you know, we just this mentality is so similar.

Stacy Grinsfelder  43:01  
Before we wrap up for the day, we could quickly talk about what people do with these pieces that you ship. I'm really curious, I know you have a section on your website, where you highlight the projects that people do with your products. But I'm, I'm curious, I mean, do you have an idea for these when you let them go? Or you just send them on their way and hope for the best?

Richard  43:22  
I'm really glad you asked me that. Because I find this the most interesting part of what I do, actually, people I mean, I've no idea what people are going to do with them often. But I have a portfolio on my website, which shows me what they've done with them. And, for example, in Virginia, Tara has put a whole set out on her porch hanging so she's just using the suncatchers. In fact, I'd say a very small percentage of people will actually use them as external --external windows, there's so I've got this amazing photo of Carla sent me this photo from North Carolina of her living room. She's got modern interiors with super slick linear features. And on either side of her smart fireplace are my tatty old rustic window sashes. And I know she's done it because just for the contrast, you know, and yeah, people will often use them for internal partitions, I'd say that's the most common reuse. It just makes a change from putting up a picture really gets a bit of internal light flow through your your divided room. Someone's used them as a coffee table. Oh, I must say hello to one of my regular customers. Louis from Tennessee. He's been buying from me for about three years, four years by a little something every month. He's retired engineer, civil engineer thing. Um, so he's very creative, and he'll do things like him take the windows apart. He'll make lanterns out them, 

Stacy Grinsfelder  45:01  

Richard  45:02  
he hangs them in front of his vinyl windows. That is what a lot of people do. They, they hang them in front of their vinyl windows, just so that the eye has some distraction. So again, if you go to my website, there's a section on the main menu called inspiration, when you go in there, you'll find a whole portfolio. So I know I never know exactly what they're going to do until they send me the photos, it's always enjoyable to do. Because it's just so satisfying to know that I've rescued that from one side of the world. And I've made sure it's got a new home, on the other side of the world, it's just an amazing feeling. And the piece will outlast me and its own I'm sure this glass is gonna, it's not it's not smashed it last for centuries, even if a new frame has to be made, and it has to be completely re-leaded. That glass, is completely unique, that painted, you know, that the the the rollers that made that class will never be completely replicated?

Stacy Grinsfelder  46:01  
Do you have anything else you want to share with us? Or tell us or that you would want our listeners to know about you?

Richard  46:07  
I think I just wanted to one of the things I want to do is just compliment you and Devyn for what you're doing with this series. Because, you know, in previous episodes, you've  had guests on who have appeared on TV makeover shows, we have the same TV shows here in the UK. What I mean by that is they're a distortion of how realistic it is to restore our buildings. But what will Devyn do is you let your guests say exactly what they want. This isn't staged. That's why I wanted to come on the show, when I've been approached by the same sort of low budget TV shows here in England, you know, they usually sort of daytime TV programs, you know, restore a house in an hour or something just like that. So what's great is you let the the the guests say what they want, and there's follow up information. So people can really do their research, perhaps before they take on a project, which they shouldn't, before they get that stamp out. Maybe they they'll think twice about what they're going to do with that stamp. And may I also say hello to a couple of people?

Stacy Grinsfelder  47:19  
Of course, please do.

Richard  47:21  
Some British people listening to this will know I no expert at all. I'm just someone who started find he still does just find this stuff thrown out. But I rely on people in the trade the leaded light making trade and the stained glass industry. So Pete Fletcher and David Morris, who gave me a few technical pointers for this interview. Great. Thank you. Oh, Stacy, I'm just gonna-- I mean, we might have got ourselves tied in knots between the different types of stained glass at the beginning of the interview.

Stacy Grinsfelder  47:50  
I think we went over it long enough. When I listen to it, again, I can confer with you and make sure that I understand if I still have questions. But I think the main points are there,

Richard  48:00  
I would not have known what stained glass really meant before I started dealing in it. And most British people don't really understand. As Rhonda was saying this, she refers to as all glass. And that's fair enough. And all these different techniques are sort of fused, fused glass as well. You know, people generally just see glass or color in it, and you can say it stained glass, that's fine,

Devyn Caldwell  48:24  
Stained glass can be very broad. And, you know, in looking at me learning to do it, I find that there is the hobbyist type of stained glass. And then there's the fine art side and there can be a fine line between hobbyist and Fine Arts. But you when you look at you really do no one over the other.

Richard  48:41  
You can tell when when you've got a British stained glass window that you've commissioned and the lead lines are perfectly aligned. soldiering is so smooth. And the way the cement has been applied. And the technique the the recipe for making the cement that puts it all together is it's not just about the glass. It's about how it's been structured.

Stacy Grinsfelder  49:05  
You have a really sweet About Me page that highlights your personality and business on your website. It's It's wonderful. And I just want to encourage everyone to go to Richard's website to find out more about him.

Devyn Caldwell  49:18  
The website, by the way, has been redesigned and it looks great. It's so much fun to just click through and look at the images. And I promise you Richard, I will be buying a piece at some point.

Richard  49:32  
Thank you. You don't have to Devyn but I've just actually one other thing I'd like to say is it's not just a website selling you stuff. I have there are hundreds of pictures there, which are my archive of sold pieces. No design is ever the same. They're all unique. up to 100 years ago, somebody produced these and I kind of like to to be the custodian of the Design may be, but you know, it's not just about selling. There's all sorts of ideas, there's case studies what people have done, I think you might find it interesting.

Devyn Caldwell  50:10  
It's really an archive actually, of images of the different styles of stained glass. And it's always great to refer back to.

Stacy Grinsfelder  50:16  
So this has been wonderful to have you here. I just appreciate it so much. Thank you. Thank you for the compliments about the podcast, too.

Richard  50:23  
Thank you very much. Bye,

Stacy Grinsfelder  50:24  
bye. Talk to you later. Bye. 

Usually, at this point in the show, we sort of go to the outro, and you hear the music and we're gone. But Devyn, you have a little something that you need to share with our audience today. Before we wrap,

Devyn Caldwell  50:39  
I do, I do. before we sign off, I do have some news to share with the audience. We're gonna be wrapping up season four this this next month in December, and I've made the difficult decision to step down as co-host after this season, doing this podcast with Stacy has been a lot of fun, it's been very rewarding. And as an introvert, it's definitely allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone in a good way. So I'm not leaving because of Stacy or the show or anything like that at all. So I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea. The reason I'm leaving is because a very big part of moving from New York City to Philadelphia was to allow me to pursue my creative self, a part of me that I kept on the backburner my entire adult life, I've been given the opportunity to pursue my art. And I learned about what I want to do with art, I've been given this chance in our house to have space to do the work, and the time. And as much as I love doing this podcast, I've allowed it to kind of get in the way and bit of a bit of a distraction for me actually pursuing what I really want to do. And so it has nothing to do with the podcast. It's just in my heart, all of my life, I wanted to pursue art and creative things. And I've never given myself the chance to do it. So that's really a bottom line when it comes down to I just need to give myself the chance to pursue the creative self.

Stacy Grinsfelder  51:56  
Yeah. Well, I've had a few weeks to get used to this idea, and I still don't like it. But that's only because for selfish reasons. And I've so enjoyed being or co-hosting with you and getting to know you. And I know that you know, artists got an art. 

Devyn Caldwell  52:17  
That's right. 

Stacy Grinsfelder  52:17  
And I think it's right, it's important for you to pursue those things and do the --do. what is your passion, you know, this show will remain my passion, you get to go do your passion. And that's just that's what life's all about. Well, I should say that's what part of life is all about? Yeah, well, thank you, and I am going to really miss you. But we do have you for three more episodes after this one.

Devyn Caldwell  52:43  
That's right.

Stacy Grinsfelder  52:44  
You know, just because we're not co-hosts anymore after that doesn't mean we aren't friends.

Devyn Caldwell  52:48  
And I'm not stepping away entirely from my responsibilities around True Tales. I will definitely be around for consulting and maybe I'll jump in and co host once in a while too.

Stacy Grinsfelder  52:57  
Sure. That'd be great. We'll love it. Okay, well, now we better do the real deal. sign off.

Devyn Caldwell  53:04  
For more information about this episode, including show notes and transcripts, and to reserve your True Tales merchandise, t shirts and hoodies, visit and remember November 16 is the last day to reserve your merch. Don't miss it. 

Stacy Grinsfelder  53:19  
Until next time, 

Devyn Caldwell  53:20  
bye for now.