Take A Peek At This Seattle Artist’s Bold Stained Glass Pieces


cut pieces of stained glass and tools by Carrie Grey

Carrie Grey didn’t know she was about to have a career-altering experience when she found herself at San Francisco’s neo-Gothic Grace Cathedral during a road trip from Seattle in 2006. “I saw the windows there, and I was transformed,” she recalls. “It became immediately clear that my desire to express myself with line, light and color was meant to be realized in leaded stained glass.”

Grey promptly enrolled in a class. But with small children, she had to wait 10 years before bringing lead—which holds the glass pieces in place—into her home studio. “Still, the ideas kept fermenting,” she says.

Carrie Grey uses tool to measure length of lead

She uses nippers to cut lengths of lead to size.

Carrie Grey in her studio filled with stained glass works

Artist Carrie Grey’s studio is filled with her stained glass works.

stained glass design

She starts with a numbered paper pattern and transfers the digits to cut glass to help with the assembly of pieces.

assembled stained glass discs

Small glass discs and leaves will be used in a door panel.

numbered pieces of stained glass for cutting preparation

Carrie Grey starts with a numbered paper pattern and transfers the digits to cut glass to help with assembly of pieces, such as Fall.

Now working from The Old Rainier Brewery, Grey’s practice is a combination of site-specific commissions and work made from the heart. She considers herself an “autobiographical artist” for whom stained glass is a vehicle for expressing life’s emotions. Even when interpreting some of the medium’s more established tropes, Grey’s work is notable for its originality and graphic quality.

“I love taking cliches and giving them new life,” Grey says with a laugh. Thus, her abstracted depictions of flowers reveal new ways of seeing familiar blooms. Made during the pandemic, Lake Swimming is a deep azure window that refracts a wash of intense color onto the floor when backlit by the sun. “Being confined brought a sense of nostalgia for the freedom experienced in childhood, like running down a dock and jumping into the water, completely unfettered,” Grey explains.

Residing in the glass-art capital of the country, Grey has access to the only stateside company—Fremont Antique Glass—still making free-blown sheets of colored glass. After drawing a sketch, she selects sheets in various saturations of pigment. “In some ways, I believe myself to be more of a painter and sculptor whose medium happens to be glass,” Grey says. When she has worked out her composition, she uses a glass cutter to score the surface before breaking out a piece in the desired shape.

Although her work is completed on a single plane, Grey doesn’t find it limiting. “I love the challenge of creating dimensionality,” she says. “I like to find the line between conveying too much versus too little. By capturing the idea of something, its essence rather than its literal form, I can push myself and the viewer to look inward at how the work makes us feel.”