'Miracle' in stained glass

Written by Laura Wiens, The Triplicate November 29, 2013 02:35 pm

Artist Mike Selfridge: “There’s very little margin for error.”
Artist Mike Selfridge: “There’s very little margin for error.” Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
Pastor Blake Inscore considers it something of a miracle.

First Baptist Church in Crescent City is entering the holiday season with six new stained-glass windows in its sanctuary, each one containing a medallion depicting Bible scenes.

They are the result of generosity, first on the part of a church member and then a local artist.

A church member in her 90s had announced her intention to bequeath $10,000 to beautify the sanctuary with stained glass after she died. Her resolve didn’t waver when she moved away. In fact, she got in touch with Inscore about a year ago and said she wanted to make the gift now, while she was still alive.

Inscore wasn’t sure how to proceed. Internet research told him that the project might be very expensive.

“I would never have thought to do this,” he said. “It’s so foreign to me. Stained glass wasn’t on my radar.

“I needed to find a way,” Inscore recalled. “Somebody told me about Mike (Selfridge) at Bay Studios. I just called him and said, ‘Mike, could we talk?’” 

Pastor Blake Inscore in the newly adorned sanctuary: “It’s beyond what I ever dreamed. It’s nothing short of a miracle.”
Pastor Blake Inscore in the newly adorned sanctuary: “It’s beyond what I ever dreamed. It’s nothing short of a miracle.” Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
The two worked on ideas together. “If I’m going to do this stained glass, I want it to tell the story of the Bible,” said Inscore, “starting with creation, the Commandments, nativity, baptism, crucifixion and resurrection.

“He told me to dream, and this is my dream.” Inscore said of his consultation with Selfridge. “He started to put this thing together and made it a reality. It’s beyond what I ever dreamed. It’s nothing short of a miracle that he’s been able to do this.”

Selfridge designed the images, then found the glass in Woodenville, Wash, a small town north of Seattle.

“I like to hand-pick the pieces,” said Selfridge. “The varigation varies from one sheet to another.”

He’s been working almost full-time on the project for the past four months. It’s exacting work, especially on the detailed medallions within each 24- by 72-inch panel.

“The medallions took a lot of time,” Selfridge said. “And the frames took a long time. The drawings were complex. There’s very little margin for error. It’s either right or it’s not. They gotta fit when they’re cut. It’s like making a jigsaw puzzle. All the edges are wrapped in copper. There’s so much more to stained glass than the stained glass. It’s not like making little glass knickknacks.”

And they had to complement the setting of the church sanctuary at 607 Pacific Ave.

“I picked up the style of the arches,” said Selfridge, and “color-balanced the room.”

One medallion window, depicting a nativity scene, was still in his studio at 1030 Sunset Circle (behind the Apple 
Peddler restaurant) when he paused to talk about the project.

“I cut up a lot of glass for those, this one’s real nice,” he said, describing the ingredients as “mouth-blown German glass, butterscotch antique, white glass on the other side so it captures the light.”

While six windows with medallions are finished, there are two more to go. Then he’s going to build 10 more windows made of stained glass without medallions – parts of these can be opened to let in air.

All in all, Selfridge is doing a lot more than he’s getting paid for, Inscore said.

“For Mike, he’s not making what these are worth. We’re blessed to have someone like this in our community.”

Mike Selfridge inspects the nativity scene medallion that will go into one of the church’s stained glass windows.
Mike Selfridge inspects the nativity scene medallion that will go into one of the church’s stained glass windows. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
The pastor admired a window depicting Jesus on the cross and said, “As far as I’m concerned that window alone is worth $10,000. A local artisan did that. That’s a cool thing.

“We made good use of her contribution,” Inscore said of the church’s benefactor, who does not wish to be identified. While she has moved away, she still has family members who attend First Baptist.

“It’s not about the money,” Selfridge said. “It’s about the creative process. The work calms me and gives me peace. It keeps me sane.”

The medallion windows adorn each side of the sanctuary, “Old Testament on one side and New on the other,” said Selfridge.

Inscore couldn’t be happier with the results. The windows, said the long-time preacher, depict “the story I want to tell that I’ve told for the last 30 years.”

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