Terry Smith-Lamothe discovered his love of stained glass as an exchange student in Europe in the early 70s because of simple economics.

“Cathedrals were always open and free,” says the 59-year-old. “I would always walk into these cathedrals in Germany and France and England and just be incredibly fascinated by the stained glass I saw there.”

Almost 40 years later, Smith-Lamothe teaches Stained Glass at NSCAD University, an introductory course in the School of Extended Studies.

Students in the course work on two stained glass projects using traditional lead came and copper foil. These are the two methods for creating stained glass.

There are also a few design exercises and colour theory is explained.

“I also give a demonstration of how you can get designs for windows from other sources, for example magazines or books or family photos,” says Smith-Lamothe.

“So you’re not tied merely to imitating what you see in other people’s stained glass. You can be creative and find your own images of what to work with.”

The class size is limited to 12 students, “any more than 12 and you lose that personal attention,” says Smith-Lamothe.

He says the course is a good fit for people interested in colourful and lively art forms. In that way, stained glass is similar to photography.

“You can manipulate the colour,” says Smith-Lamothe. “You can really be playful with the images.”

After 25 years of teaching the course, Smith-Lamothe will not be back when it starts back up in January. The new instructor is a former student who took the course back in 1985.

“I enjoyed it quite a bit, because it was so different from anything else I had done in the arts,” says Philip Doucette.

One of the things he learned in the class was that working with stained glass wasn’t as difficult or as challenging as he’d been led to believe.

“I found out that not only was it very easy to work with once you understood the principles of how to deal with it, it produced results you couldn’t produce any other way,” says Doucette.

As the instructor, he plans on instilling in his students a sense of process by having them think about what they’re making and the steps they’re going to need to accomplish the project.