Masters of Their Craft: Joyful Light

Cynthia Courage creates and restores stained glass at Attenhofers Stained Glass

“I was always fascinated by the beauty of stained glass,” says Cynthia Courage, owner of Attenhofer’s Stained Glass, a full-service art glass studio.

Years ago, she needed stained glass for her home. Ken Attenhofer, the studio owner, suggested that she take a stained glass class to make her own project.

“This was a six-week class but within the first two weeks I finished all the projects and wanted to know more,” she said. “He saw my passion and ability and kept trying to get me to work for him, and finally I quit my other job and joined him.”

In 2002, she bought the business and since has worked with numerous architects, churches and owners of historic homes. Some notable jobs include restoration of windows at St. Louis Cathedral, St. John the Baptist, Notre Dame, Walmsley Chapel, Annunciation and numerous local clients in historic homes throughout the region.

“We’ve also removed all the sacred windows at Our Lady of Lourdes on Napoleon and many other sites,” she said. “These works are created and preserved and eventually reseated in their new homes. These types of projects are usually large and require years of work, patience and documentation. I love this type of challenge.”

Attenhofer’s also provides services from gently cleaning and performing maintenance on historic glass to creating and fabricating new pieces.

“We usually draw our own custom patterns for the panels we make, but we always take our client’s vision into consideration,” she said. “We try to understand what is most important to our clients. We also take into consideration the lighting and the surrounding view. This often will dictate part of the design, structure or glass selection.”

She works with four to seven artists in a commercial triplex and said her 3400-square-foot- studio is a nice sized, breathable space.

“I love surrounding myself with other like-minded talented artists,” she said. “I still get excited about projects and I can’t express the feeling of accomplishment when we mount our work. I have been able to be an integral part of several new churches, and it is an honor I never dreamed would happen to me.”

She especially loves to see the historic artwork come back from a destroyed condition.

“A lot of our work involves science, math and figuring stuff out,” she said. “I’m always looking for the next challenge. Every conservation, restoration job is a new puzzle, a new whodunnit.

She believes stained glass can be joyful and make people smile with delight.

“It really can change the view with light, color and composition,” she said. “It’s magical to view and the glass medium allows me to continuously push the boundaries and go further and further.”