by Scott Neuffer

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January 29, 2013
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Jacks Valley artist restores church windows

A Jacks Valley glass artist is in the process of restoring a colorful, and spiritual, piece of Nevada history.

Tim Stevenson, the owner of Leaded Bee Artglass, has been commissioned to restore three 1889 stained glass windows originally installed at the former St. Stephen's Episcopal Church on 7th Street in Reno. His client is the Sierra Bible Church in northwest Reno.

"I have completed the re-leading and cleaning of the two side panels and am in the process on the third central panel," Stevenson said. "I hope to have the work completed for the church before Easter, a celebration of resurrection."

Stevenson, 59, is no stranger to grand and exquisite glass. Born in Las Vegas, he was moved to Reno in 1955, "when it was still a little city." His father was an Episcopal priest and, in 1960, landed at Coventry Cross Church in Minden.

"The valley was truly idyllic then," he recalled. "Minden was no more than three blocks wide, with less than 3,000 people in the whole county. One could ride their horse on the dirt edge of Highway 395."

Stevenson graduated from Douglas County High School in 1971. While attending college in California, he took a stained glass class for fun.

"My first true commission was in 1978 and soon after art glass became my main, full-time vocation," he said.

For two decades, Stevenson lived and worked in Merced County. In 2006, he moved back to the Great Basin, settling down on the edge of Jacks Valley.

"I mainly think of my work as architectural art glass," he said, "and attempt to connect architecture with art and enhance human aesthetics with the interplay of refracted light and color. Beyond mere decoration, I attempt to translate the power and luster of art glass to provoke an invigorating though calming reaction in those living environments."

Stevenson has worked in private residences, restaurants, churches, mausoleums and cathedrals.

In the 1980s, his studio etched the entrance doors for Carson Valley Inn and created the leaded glass for the casino's wedding chapel.

In 2011, he rebuilt the arched skylights for the mausoleum at Our Mother of Sorrows on N. Virginia St. in Reno.

"The panels, built in 1932, were of Kokomo art glass, and I had the foundry in Indiana make the same tints as in the original works," he said of the latter project.

He also has projects in Florida, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Canada, Mexico, and Japan. Collaborating with Jarill Ristine, a glass fuser in Carson City, he's performed some minor etching for the Nevada Tourism Board, which conveyed the work to China.

"I love to create large installations and personally prefer modern work, movement of line and refraction, rather than representational work," he said.

Stevenson believes the panels from St. Stephens may be older than the church.

"A perusing of the archives of the Nevada Historical Society hopefully will produce their provenance in fuller light," he said. "The windows are ornately painted in their borders and central motifs. The central panel depicts Jesus with children on the steps of a seemingly Renaissance cathedral, while the side panels have six liturgical symbols as their focus, Alpha and Omega, the Bible, a stylized Jerusalem Cross, the Crown and Keys."

He described the restoration as a painstaking process.

"It's a complex process of photo archiving, extraction from wooden frames, rubbings and deconstruction of the corroded lead structure, cleaning and repair of snapped pieces," he said. "Reconstruction with new lead came (the strips between pieces) is quite arduous, sometimes completing just a few square feet in a day's labor. Restored panels are then puddled and cleaned, structural brace bars bent and affixed to the rear of the panels and the panels re-framed in the restored wood frames."

Although he has more than 35 years of experience, Stevenson said each project presents unique challenges.

"I have, as the arts require, even pulled a few new tricks out of my sleeve," he said.

For more information about Leaded Bee Artglass, call 267-1612.

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The Record Courier Updated Feb 5, 2013 02:20PM Published Jan 29, 2013 05:26PM Copyright 2013 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.