"New" Artist in an Ancient Art

Michael Bovie’s work on display at the
2011 Lancaster Historic Home Show

Stained glass has been around for thousands of years.  Stained glass, as most of us think of it, has been around for hundreds of years.  Stained glass artist Michael Bovie has been around much less, but he is undoubtedly making his mark on this ancient art. 

One of the craftsmen working on the Schmucker Hall restoration project alongside Historic Restorations, Lancaster Stained Glass Designs was contracted to restore an eight foot fanlight and two sidelights at the entrance door in the main foyer.  About 130 years old, the stained glass was in sad shape with broken and missing lead castings and glass, and even more hidden damage Bovie found as he began taking the glass apart to begin his restoration.  

This is exactly the kind of challenge Bovie thrives on, “No two jobs are ever the same, so nothing is ever boring and in the end I get the satisfaction of bringing something back that was so badly damaged, restoring it to its original grandeur,” the craftsman says.

Bovie’s favorite project so far was a piece commissioned from Lancaster Stained Glass designs by Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland to pay homage to one of their alumni, a founding father of modern stained glass by the name of John LaFarge.  LaFarge invented opalescent glass – the milkier stained glass that uses streaks of color to add movement and texture to the piece.  Before creating the stained glass piece, Bovie researched LaFarge and his techniques in depth, including a trip to Boston where he utilized unprecedented access to information and LaFarge’s works at several churches to help him design the piece commissioned by Mount St. Mary’s.  

While typically not quite as extensive or involved, Bovie’s historical restoration work does usually involve research in resource books and online sources into the history of stained glass techniques, artists, and their styles.  Bovie enjoys bringing this deeper level of detail and craftsmanship into his work with historical restorations.

The oldest glass Bovie has worked on is right here in Lancaster County, stained glass from the early 1800’s on a church in Little Britain Township, though Lancaster Stained Glass Designs is commissioned for both new stained glass pieces and historical restoration pieces.  Bovie works primarily in the South Central PA region, but has travelled all over the Eastern Seaboards states making and remaking art history.

So exactly how does one end up making art history? Thirty years ago, a friend cajoled Michael Bovie into taking a short stained glass class at a local studio.  This class turned out to be life-changing for Bovie and within one year Lancaster Stained Glass Designs was born and has been growing ever since.  From his studio in Manheim Township, Bovie says stained glass is the ideal art for him because it utilizes both his “art head” during the design creation process and his “tech head” during the actual creation of the stained glass project.

More information about stained glass craftsman Michael Bovie and his company Lancaster Stained Glass Designs can be found at their website:  www.lancastersgd.com