Easthampton artist creates stained-glass windows for Thornes Marketplace

  • Easthampton artist Heather McLean designed six new stained-glass panels for the Chestnut Staircase in Thornes Marketplace. Jill Apolinario Photography

  • Thornes Marketplace facilities manager Jon McGee holds up one of the stained-glass windows that used to hang in the Chestnut Staircase behind Share Coffee shop. The window will be replaced by six new custom-made stained-glass windows. STAFF PHOTO/EMILY CUTTS

Published: 7/10/2018 10:54:32 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Before being selected to create a set of six custom stained-glass windows for Thornes Markeplace, Easthampton artist Heather McLean had something else on display in the downtown shopping center — a flyer advertising her work.

As part of ongoing renovations to the more than century-old building, the installation of new windows by early August will add details and color to the Chestnut Staircase behind Share Coffee shop.

“They were looking for someone local and I believe Jody found my flyer that I put up in Thornes on the bulletin board in the hallway, which is right where the windows needed to go,” McLean said, referring to Jody Doele, the marketing manager at Thornes. “I was very excited for the opportunity to quote the project and I’m even more excited that they allowed me to do a custom design for all six windows.”

Doele recalled seeing McLean’s poster and taking one of the pull tabs with her business information. Doele said she went and visited the studio and was impressed with her work.

“We feel very fortunate,” Doele said of working with McLean.

The oranges and blues used in the windows are reminiscent of McLean’s painting style — she said she is currently working on a series of blue horses in orange environments. The design is based on the style of Frank Lloyd Wright and arts-and-crafts movement.

McLean began working with stained glass in 1995. After moving to Massachusetts she opened a studio on Cottage Street in Easthampton and began teaching classes and doing mostly residential custom work. Now with her work about to be installed in Thornes, McLean will have the opportunity to see her artwork every time she shops at there or parks in the attached garage.

“I’m overjoyed,” McLean said. “I can’t wait to see them up for the first moment.”

Until they are installed, McLean said how the windows will look together is still an idea in her head. “When they all go up together, I’m hoping it will be stunning.”

McLean said she has been studying the light and believes there will be a certain time of day when all the windows will glow with the sun coming in.

Above the six new panels, three tiers of windows original to the building — one overarching transom window and two tiers of oblong windows — will be cleaned, painted and reinstalled to further refresh the entire collection. The facility’s manager, Jon McGee, described the “drippy 19th century glass” as unique and interesting.

The new panels replace three original stained-glass windows that could not be restored. The old windows, which are currently in storage in the building, will be cleaned, refurbished and eventually hung as an art sculpture.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.
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