Master Glass Painter at Judson Studios in Los Angeles, California, Indre Bileris earned a BFA in Illustration from Parsons School of Design and became involved in stained glass conservation during that same time at St. Ann and the Holy Trinity’s conservation program. Having been a conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cloisters from 2007 to 2012, the artist arrived at the Judson Studios with an extensive body of design and painting work for liturgical, educational, and residential installations. Her hand can be seen in much of the painted work that comes out of the studio today.
As a replication painter since 1996, Bileris has learned her craft from masters no longer bound by earthly constraints. Their work remains, part legacy, part teacher, and in learning how to recreate their style and imagery she is now able to incorporate elements of each master into her own artwork. The artist has created new work and done replication painting in equal portions, with a side of autonomous work made for art shows and donations to the American Glass Guild (AGG) auction. With a Masters in education, for a time she countered her solitary life as a glass painter by working with young children as an art teacher.
Bileris began her training as a stained glass replication painter while still attending and completing undergraduate work at Parsons School of Design. As a funded Kress Fellow and conservation apprentice at St. Ann’s for Restoration and the Arts, Inc. in Brooklyn Heights, New York, she recreated numerous damaged or destroyed painted works. Following her apprenticeship she did internships at Canterbury Cathedral Stained Glass Studio, England, and the Cologne, Germany Cathedral Studio.
Early in her career Bileris was employed by Jack Cushen Studio Restoration, East Marion, New York, to replicate the painting and staining of The Four Winds stained glass window for the Stanford White Cottage, Tick Hall, Montauk, New York. Some of her other freelance projects for Cushen include painting and staining work for the Church of the Ascension, Fifth Ave, New York, and painting two figures in a Tiffany Studios window (circa 1900), which was in the possession of a private collector.
“As a replicator, it’s not about you, but the people who came before. It’s detective work. You have to figure out what the artist did. It’s never gotten any easier. Now that I know more I realize how challenging it is to do. Part of what I love about stained glass is that it’s handed off from generation to generation. Replication allows you to be trained by artists who are no longer with us.”
Her career as a replication painter has allowed Bileris to work on prestigious commissions with many of the best stained glass studios in the country. She co-designed and created watercolor sketches and cartoons for Venturella Studio, Union Square, New York, for the studio’s 68 square feet of designed and fabricated stained glass for The Ivy Club, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey. These windows commemorate the inclusion of women into the club through the imagery of migrating butterflies and ivy. Another project for Venturella Studio involved designing and painting windows for a synagogue in Maple Glenn, Pennsylvania, home to 70 windows created by Benoît Gilsoul.
Like many glass painters, Bileris’ process begins with a trace and matte. She started out working with gum and water for tracing, but eventually switched to clove oil because it’s much more forgiving and flexible. In 2013, Bileris was awarded an AGG scholarship to study glass painting with Jonathan Cooke at Wheaton Village, Milleville, New Jersey. Cooke served a traditional apprenticeship at York Minster and started his own business in 1987. His book Time and Temperature was published early in 2013.
Bileris’ projects have included residential commissions, such as her work for a private wine cellar on Oyster Bay, Long Island. This commission included four windows: a plated window that mimics tile patterns and displays an iron work pattern on a separate piece of plated glass; a pair of sandblasted, painted, and stained glass windows that feature animals drinking wine; and a tessellating pattern window also featuring wildlife. “Those windows feel very much like me,” she states.
As a submission for the Corning Museum of Glass’ New Glass Review, Bileris created her autonomous work The Show as well as a nursery window based on her love of English illustration. Fabricated at Venturella Studios, The Show was included in AGG’s 2011 members’ exhibition.
“It’s challenging to find an in-road to doing painted windows as personal artistic expression. Stained glass is not considered art because there are a lot of works out there taken directly from pattern books. The ecclesiastic tie reminds many people of houses of worship rather than galleries. And stained glass is dependent on light and environment and somehow is too crafty or pretty or religious. But it fits me. I want to keep growing and see if I can really become an artist in this medium, to be brave enough to go beyond being an able illustrator on glass. Georgia O’Keeffe said: ‘Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.’”
At the end of 2015, Bileris left New York and took a position as lead painter at Judson Studios in LA. Though she has never prioritized showing gallery work, thanks to Judson Studios the artist exhibited in a group LA Art show, and a small work was included in the 2023 show through the SGAA. She is starting work for a group show at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center in Fullerton, California, this upcoming year and may be working with Narcissus Quagliata on his online class in 2024. Earlier this year, Bileris taught a two-week course at the Vilnius Academy of Art In Lithuania, which was a dream come true as she is the child of Lithuanian immigrants. “I was born in the US but spoke Lithuanian as my first language, so that chance basically pulled together everything I care about.”
Following her father’s passing 10 years ago, Deanna Clayton’s artwork took an unexpected turn when she found herself modeling clay into a figurative vessel rather than a decorative one. The translation of the clay form into glass symbolized glass’ inherent life-affirming qualities. Soft, flowing edges at the bases of these sculptures add to the sense of impermanence; electroplated copper helps to ground the figures, enhancing their presence.
Clayton states: “The inspiration for this new body of work is a true love of the life inherent in glass itself. To create a face in glass is a self-evident evocation of the material’s life quality. Creating abstracted forms in glass that become believable as life is what is truly inspiring. This is what continues my quest to experiment and explore glass and its capabilities as an art form.”
Clayton started working with glass 35 years ago as a student in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She began as most glass artists do, by being introduced to a blow pipe and a furnace of molten glass. Her work prior to finding glass was primarily drawing and printmaking, with an emphasis on representing the human form. She earned her associates in fine arts degree at Bucks County Community College.
Wanting to continue her education in glass, Clayton chose Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, where the program taught by Henry Halem had produced some of the most successful glass artists working at the time. After two years, she moved to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, where she graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor of fine arts degree in art history in 2002.
While attending the University of Illinois, Clayton started her own glass studio with her husband, Keith Clayton. After 10 years in Illinois, in 1995 the couple discovered beautiful Door County, Wisconsin, where they moved with their three children. The studio was known for its pate de verre technique and electroplated copper vessels – a successful source of inspiration to her for over 20 years.
Today, D.C. Studios LLC is designed to educate others in the ancient and rewarding process of pate de verre. Clayton has taught classes at the Corning Museum of Glass, New York; The Cleveland Institute of Art; and Duncan McClellan Glass Project, St. Petersburg, Florida. Her work can be seen in public and private collections around the world. This year’s exhibitions included a solo exhibition, Surging Forward, at Duncan McClellan Gallery, St. Petersburg, Florida; Glass Coast Weekend, Habatat Fine Art, Sarasota, Florida; and Art Palm Beach, Mattsen Fine Art, Palm Beach, Florida. Artist awards include the 2019 Collectors Choice, 47th Annual International Glass Invitational, Habatat Galleries, Royal Oak, Michigan; SAC Award, Professional Dimensions Group, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Most Unique Interpretation of a Vessel, Habatat Galleries, Boca Raton, Florida.
Says Clayton: “I love the versatility and freshness of glass as an artistic medium. The potential for expression in contemporary glass is limitless.”