Copper in the Arts

December 2015

Copper’s Part in Star-Lite Stained Glass

By Jennifer Hetrick

Star-Lite Stained Glass showroom in Bethlehem, PA. Star-Lite Stained Glass showroom in Bethlehem, PA. 

Photo by Paul David. 

Sandy Asaro is a rare breed; he started working in the stained glass industry while in seventh grade, assisting with creating drawings for projects. By age 17, he opened his own business called Star-Lite Stained Glass operating in a building on his parents’ property in Flemington, N.J. Since then, the business has thrived and he relocated to Bethlehem in nearby Pennsylvania.

Asaro’s sister had worked at a stained glass studio called The Glass Workbench in their hometown during his teenage years, which is where he learned to cut glass before taking on more clients for himself a few years later.

“I use both lead came and copper foil in my stained glass work but specialize more in copper foil because you’re able to do more delicate work with it, compared to what you can do with the lead came,” Asaro says. “You have a less clunky look with copper foil versus lead came.”

Today, the business specializes in 80 percent custom glasswork, while the remaining 20 percent is made up of products designed for retail sales in his storefront which spans two floors in a historic stone building.

In the past, Asaro specialized in lampshades made from glass, but they became less of a focus with the retail market in the past eight years.

Today, he focuses more on glass lampshade repair, Tiffany style reproduction pieces, door panels and skylights.

“We work with contractors ahead to plan for skylights,” Asaro says about new home construction projects and renovations, but often the new glass he fills with a story of colors can be fitted to easily replace old, plain glass.

And in winter, he sells so many stained glass angels for displaying on windows that he can’t keep enough stocked in his storefront in chillier months.

Angel, before stained glassAngel artwork, before stained glass is created.
Angel, after stained glass is applied.Angel, after stained glass is applied. 

Photos by Paul David. 

Asaro says he’s noticed that shoppers are getting more creative than ever with custom requests, too.

A one-of-a-kind stained glass box to hold a daughter’s wedding photo album is something Asaro fashioned in recent years.

One woman who loved sipping wine had Asaro make a lampshade using miniature samples of bottles which he incorporated into the design for a more three-dimensional than usual effect.

Attention toward pets is a growing trend lately, even in glass. Recently, a man brought in a picture of his family’s cat to be designed in stained glass as a gift for his wife around the holidays.

“The hardest part was finding the color for the tabby cat,” Asaro says.

A son brought in a picture of his father’s rescued greyhound and three miniature greyhounds. The photograph will help Asaro to create a 34-inch-by-48-inch stained glass panel featuring the dogs as a gift for his father.  

Asaro prefers to use antique copper solder and sometimes black pewter patinas. He sources his copper foil from Edco Copper Corporation and Rainbow Art Glass, Inc., with supply locations for both in New Jersey.

“You can get very intricate, ornate designs with the copper foil,” Asaro says. “That kind of detail and that strong of a piece will last a lifetime if it’s done right."

Resources:

Sandy Asaro demonstrating the use of copper foil

Star-Lite Stained Glass, 3216 Easton Ave., Bethlehem, PA, (610) 861-9340

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