Design of the Month September 2004


The Circle of Life

"The Circle of Life"

click any photo for a larger image
A brief background

This window is truly a case of divine intervention. My wife and I were seated in church at early service last November listening to a sermon from our good friend and Pastor, Abe Cox, when he suddenly fell critically ill. At that moment, I felt compelled to create a window for the church and donate it in his honor.

Window symbology

The Circle of Life relates to the notion of heaven and hell as being something we all live with every day, either in the spiritual sense, or a metaphorical sense. I wanted to create an image that showed a sense of hope.

The thorns and fire shown at the base of the window represent the daily struggles (hell) we deal with. These thorns change into Easter lilies as they spread out to the left and right, eventually changing into the dove. When people ask if the dove is ascending or descending, I simply say, "Yes."

The design phase

The tools in Glass Eye 2000 are very easy to learn, and the tutorial is simple to follow. One trick I used to greatly increase my speed in designing was copying and pasting. I was able to draw one set of lilies, then copy and paste them back into the layout. Having the ability to "flip" a selection in the layout was also a great help. In fact, once I had the left side of the panel designed, I simply used the Reflect All command to make a mirror image of it on the right side. Then all I had to do was finish out the area at the bottom of the panel.

Glass Eye 2000 offers the ability to pick glass samples (photo images) from all the various manufacturers, which takes a lot of the guesswork out of what the window will look like. In fact, when I had to show the design to the administrative board at my church, I was able to tile it out (some 40 plus 8 1/2" x 14" printouts) to almost actual size so they could see a lot of the detail in the glass.

The software also creates a bill of materials, telling you the name/number of each glass, amount in square inches used, as well as how much lead you'll need.

As you will see when you compare the Glass Eye 2000 file to the finished product, we made some minor tweaks to the design in the actual production. During the glass selection phase, we decided to create the halo around the dove using yellow glass "globs" instead of the heavy lead lines originally proposed. This change necessitated a redesign at the top center of the piece where the lilies connected. Other small changes had to do with picking different colors and textures for the double border.

The ability to do many variations on a theme in a short period of time is a great feature of Glass Eye 2000. One of my target audiences I find myself working with is architects, and having the flexibility to change colors/designs on the fly as they watch is a great way to collaborate on projects. Also, since everything is created digitally, being able to save files as photos and e-mail them to their clients for input is fantastic.


I am Vice President, Chief Creative Officer at Elberson Partners, an advertising agency in Charlotte, North Carolina. I have worked as an art director for over 23 years, the last 14 years on computers. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in drawing from the University of South Carolina.

I have been working in stained glass for a little over a year and a half, and have started a small business called Light-Crafts. While my experience with stained glass is limited, my love of stained glass has been lifelong.

If you have any questions about this project, please contact me at

~ Russell Shuler, President, Light-Crafts

Download "The Circle of Life"
in Glass Eye 2000 format
  This pattern may be used to make one or more artworks for sale or personal enjoyment. This pattern may be printed for personal use only and may not be sold or given away in printed or electronic form.