A Background to Steve Sherriff

January 30, 2014

Since being founded, Sherriff Stained Glass Specialists Stained Glass Specialists has gained an unrivalled and extensive comprehension of the industry having worked on projects across the UK and Europe. To gain a better understanding of the family-run business, founder and director Sherriff Stained Glass Specialists has provided an insight into the company, projects and the process of making stained glass windows in Dorset.

How long have you been creating stained glass and leaded windows?

We founded the company in 1988 so have been creating stained glass windows and leaded windows professionally for 25 years. This year will be our 26th.

How did you get into this specialised industry of stained glass window production?

I initially started creating windows as a hobby. Through a strong interest I then did specialist courses in Germany and it all came together from there.

What is the more popular style of stained glass window; traditional or modern?

Most popular are the traditional styles – the styles that date back to 1900. This ironically sits well with a modern house providing the design and colours are sympathetic.

What is the largest stained glass window project you have undertaken?

Sanderson Hotel, London

We look after the listed window in what is now the Sanderson Hotel in London, but used to be the Sanderson Fabric headquarter building. This is quite a modern design of the 60’s and is about 40 foot wide by 30 foot tall – this is ongoing work to maintain the window in good condition.

What is the most intricate stained glass window project you have undertaken?

We produced a painted and fired stained and leaded glass window of Our Lady of Walsingham for a Roman Catholic Church in Fareham as a memorial to the mother of a parishioner. We incorporated Donald Duck in the design, peeping out from the oak leaves – the priest was a fan of Donald Duck and wanted something for the children to find. This needed to be very discreet and was very intricate – it’s probably not noticeable until it’s pointed out.

What is the longest part of the process?

The design aspects always ‘correctly’ take the longest amount of time. We always design in ‘real size’ so the images can be seen exactly as they will appear in the finished window. We initially design in black and white as the brain too readily wants to look at colour so designing in black and white concentrated on the lines of the designs. A design is easy to change but the finished window is much more difficult.

What is the most enjoyable part of the process?

Viewing the finished and fitted window is the most enjoyable part – seeing the delight of the client! Visit our image gallery to see a collection of finished projects.

How do you repair damaged stained glass windows?

We try not to intervene too severely if repairs can be carried out ‘in situ’. Sadly lead deteriorates quite naturally so after about 150 years often the window needs to be removed and the old lead stripped out. We can then rebuild using new leads to give the window a new life of another 150 years. In general, approaching a repair really depends on the condition of the lead.

How do you restore old stained glass windows?

Stained glass windows usually need restoring due to badly deformed lead, or lead that is nearing the end of its life by becoming ‘friable’. It is only the lead and lead light cements that hold a window secure and both of these start breaking down after about 100 years. We start by removing the window to our workshops. All of the glass is catalogued and then carefully the window is taken apart. The existing glass is cleaned up and any new glass is cut, painted and fired if necessary. Then the window is rebuilt using new lead that matches the profile of the original – all of our methods are traditional.

Do you teach your methods or offer courses?

For years I taught for schools, colleges and the Adult Education service. I also teach Msc Conservation aspects of stained glass for Bournemouth University. My courses are now on a private basis and in 1 day I teach my students all of the skills that they would have learnt in a course consisting of 2 hours a week for 30 weeks. In a day we take a student that has never cut glass to making a stained and leaded glass panel, as well as a Tiffany style mirror, all in a single day. We even look at using the kiln and how to bend glass by heat. Our courses are highly enjoyable! Head to our courses page to find out more.


If you have any further questions regarding the industry, the process or to discuss your own project, you can contact Sherriff Stained Glass Specialists in Dorset via telephone on 01202 882208 or via the online contact form.

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For further information about our range of products and services, call us on 01202 882208 or complete the enquiry form.

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