BOUNTIFUL — It’s a way to turn light into art.
Peter Ruplinger, a Bountiful stained glass artist, said he was drawn to the medium for that very reason. His work, which can be seen at Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, Corning Glass, and several county art exhibits, sprang from an early fascination with the way light and color played together.
“When I was a child a neighbor boy brought some broken pieces of glass from a reflector and showed them to me,” said Ruplinger. “The pieces were red, amber and yellow, and it made an impression on me.”
He grew up in an artistic family, with two sisters and a grandmother who are also artists. Though it took awhile to translate his early love of light into stained glass, he said his family helped prepare him for the work.
“It takes looking at a lot of art to develop an interest in it,” he said.
He officially started working on stained glass a few years ago, studying in the Normandy area of France before returning to work in Utah. His window of a crane is currently on display at the Davis County Administration Building as part of the county’s current fine art exhibit.
In order to make a stained glass window, Ruplinger cuts out the individual shapes of glass before attaching them together with metal. He often alters the glass, using a combination of paint and/or firing that gives it a unique effect.
“I love determining the best techniques and ways of mixing colors,” he said. “I have well over 100 different examples of glass I’ve experimented with, painting them and then firing them in the kiln to see how they’ll turn out.”
He then uses those techniques in larger pieces, such as the shimmering ripples of water that can be seen in “Nautilus.” One of his most recent works, “Grand Entry,” uses several techniques used by well-known stained-glass artist Louis Comfort Tiffany.
“The leaves up in the trees are all double-paned,” said Ruplinger. “It creates a 3D illusion.”
Other times, inspiration comes straight from his own imagination.
“Often, as I’m drifting off to sleep, visions come to my mind,” he said. “I’ll keep a sketchbook by my bed.”
Some ideas also evolved between their initial conception and the final window. One of those is the window Ruplinger designed for the aquarium, which shows a family of whales at play in the water. Initially, he said, the whale would have been much lonelier.
“I started out with one whale, then decided to do two,” he said. “Then I decided to put a baby in there with them, then added a third whale to balance things out.”
Ruplinger is currently exploring other stained glass techniques, including a slab glass window requested by a costumer and dalle-de-verre. The latter technique, which is like stained glass except the pieces are put together with grout instead of metal, isn’t as widely known.
“I’m surprised its not more popular, but the only place I’ve seen it in Utah is the Jordan River (LDS) Temple,” he said. “It’s incredibly beautiful.”
For more information about Ruplinger and his work, visit ruplingerstainedglass.com.