started work on the windows in early March, and were finished within three weeks. The students worked as pairs, and each pair was responsible for one window, although Barbara did a fair amount of work on each, and did almost all the soldering on both of them. Nevertheless, it was an outstanding accomplishment by these four young folks who stuck with the project and approached it with enthusiasm and pride.
There were several hiccups during the installation, including the west window being installed in the east window location! But the next day, the installer took it out, installed it in the correct spot and installed the east window. Two of the students, both of whom are carpenters, arrived to help with the installation of the east window, which happened to be the one they built as a team. They were so proud of their work, as well as helping with the installation.
The windows were installed just before Semana Santa. Prior to each church service, a paper describing the project was given to each church attendee. Everyone involved in the project was thrilled and extremely proud to have participated in this wonderful achievement. It was one of the best professional experiences of Barbara’s life, and she is so grateful to have had the opportunity.
The El Valle Church Windows
In 2010, a charitable foundation in El Valle (Panama) provided funding so that Barbara could teach four local young folks (3 adults and one 14-year old) the art of stained glass, with the understanding that they would help build two windows for the main church in El Valle. The classes in November and would meet once a week for about four hours. The students made six projects, using patterns provided by Barbara but they selected colors and textures. Their work was included in an exhibition in late February 2011; they were so proud!
The foundation bought all the tools and materials. Famed Panamanian artist Coqui Calderon provided the conceptual design for the windows. Barbara’s husband, Tommy, translated the concept designs into patterns to use to cut glass. The students and Barbara
But the story doesn’t end there. Back in the United States, Barbara often told her friends about the two young Panamanian carpenters who twice volunteered their time and energy to build the El Valle church windows, but had no way of continuing with this craft they had learned and practiced. One of Barbara’s friends was so taken by this story that she provided funds to purchase stained glass tools and supplies for Roberto and Jose Luis. Most of the tools and supplies were purchased in the US, hand carried to Panama by Joan, while Sven picked up the remaining items in Panama City. Joan and Carlitos presented the “mini-stained glass studio” to Roberto and Jose Luis, who wrote a most touching thank you letter to the donors. Fabulous, fabulous; Barbara feels so fortunate to have such great friends and co-workers!
In 2013 Barbara returned to El Valle for ten weeks. Once again, the charitable foundation agreed to provide the materials and supplies for two more windows for the main church (the two high ones above the main door), and Coqui Calderon provided the conceptual designs. The two ex-students Roberto and Jose Luis were located, and both enthusiastically agreed to help build the windows. Both of these windows were installed just before Semana Santa, 2013, and this time, Roberto and Jose Luis took charge of the installation. To watch the installation of one of the windows, click here.
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