The artistic world of stained glass is not just to bring colour and light to old churches or other buildings connected to the past.
Local resident Tom Schneider has expanded the one-dimensional technique to three-dimensions, using coloured glass held together by lead to recreate scale-model size industrial and other equipment commonly seen in the area.
A front end loader, ore carrier and grader are counted among the works he’s created.
“I got bored making windows and one-dimensional pictures as it was too easy,” Schneider recounted recently in an issue of Stained Glass News, a magazine for stained glass hobbyists.
“I wanted a challenge, so I made biplanes and that too was easy. So I made old wagons, wheels and all. Heavy construction equipment looked like fun so I tried that.”
Using a photo or two and tire measurements, Schneider gained expertise in making scale models, finding tires to match the model size and lights to illuminate the finished product.
His signature piece could very well be a faithfully-followed scale-model replica of the Houston Volunteer Fire Department’s Truck No. 1, now long-retired and on display under a protective cover at Steelhead Park.
An former army command vehicle, it was purchased in the late 1950s and modified for service as a fire truck.
Schneider’s model captures those modifications, including the installation of a large water tank on the back.
“The fire truck was made from recycled materials, except for the coloured glass and solder and foil,” he told the Stained Glass News.
Schneider is self-taught, starting with a $1 glass cutter and a metal file.
“The first glass I cut was 2 feet by 2 feet and I used the entire sheet to get one four-inch by six-inch piece. That was 50 years ago,” he said.
It takes him about 40 hours to build a model of a piece of construction or other heavy equipment.
“Basically building a complete vehicle with interior, wiring, mirrors, lights, doors, hoods, motors, etc.,” he explained in the Stained Glass News.