Julee’s Artistic Process in Creating Stained Glass
“I once felt called to the ministry—and this is it,” Julee Lowe said in a newspaper interview when speaking of her stained glass art. The messages she conveyed through her creation of processional crosses, candleholders, and stained glass windows continue to inspire all who gaze upon them. Her work can be found as close as her home church of St. Mark’s and as far away as China. During her career, Julee created more than a few nativity scenes and crucifixes and designed more than her share of shepherds searching valiantly for lost sheep. Her work resides in too many homes to count, and she has major installations in more than 30 churches and other sites throughout the Midwest.
Work typically came to Julee in one of two ways. Sometimes people would hand her a picture and ask her to “do this.” But for larger commissions, a committee would usually come to her with a rough concept and then ask her to work around a budget. “People usually have at least some idea of what they want when they come in,” she said. “I can usually determine what they like by talking to them.” Julee consulted with clients to determine window size, style, and other factors that would affect the way light would play through the piece. She would then visit the installation site to get a feel for the décor of the room or building and its light sources. She had to consider the direction the window faced, its relationship to sunshine, and any other factors that might play into the light flow, such as trees or other buildings. “When the trees outside turn orange,” she said, “it changes the whole thing.”
Once she had a grasp of the concept to be conveyed, Julee would then rely upon a variety of reference materials in the design process, including histories of stained glass works, dictionaries of symbols and religious symbols, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Bible to add accuracy and relevance. From there she drew the preliminary design and would take it to the client. “The design takes as long as the construction. Ideas perk while I’m working on something else. I go through a lot of preliminaries before I get to the good stuff. There’s no substitute for hard work,” She had said in an interview. “The client’s input creates a catalytic instant that’s greater than both our separate ideas.”