There’s a kind of magic that happens when worlds collide. When we reach out and work with people with different skills in unexpected ways, we make the once impossible, possible. And the master craftsman Norbert Sattler is one of these remarkable collaborative thinkers. As a stained glass craftsman with decades of expertise, he is creating work never before possible as he joins forces with artists to bring to life their visions in glass.

Stained glass is a remarkable medium to experience. There is a reason we see it so often in places of worship. When the light hits a stained glass window and illuminates the colors in full glory, it’s breathtaking. For over a thousand years it has been the medium of choice to decorate some of the most beautiful churches, cathedrals, and official buildings in the world.

To Norbert Sattler, stained glass is not a thing of the past though. It is a medium that has the potential to create new, awe-inspiring work. And, after decades as a master stained glass craftsman, his passion for his work has taught him more than a few beautiful life lessons to remember.

Why do we love things that are beautifully crafted? 

Why, when there are a thousand bowls in the world, do we hold the ones made by hand with such love and care? What is it about a handcrafted mug in our hands that makes it feel so human?

Many of us are but one generation removed from a craftsman or craftswoman of some kind. Perhaps you had a grandfather who was a wood carver or a mason. Maybe your mother is a potter, knitter, or weaver. From jewelry to old barns, those who are masters at craft have brought value to our world. They built our homes, made the world beautiful, and delivered us delight.

Watching a master craftsman at work, seeing a problem, and using years of finely honed skills to tackle it is a thing of beauty. It’s methodical, deliberate, and truly awe-inspiring.

“I am not an artist, I am a craftsman. I do what an artist sometimes cannot do.” —Norbert Sattler

A great craftsman is given a problem and finesses it into something beautiful.

This is the kind of relationship Norbert Sattler has with the artists he works with.

For 40 years, he has been inviting artists into his studio to bring their work to life in new ways. From rendering their work in glass to developing new ways to work with glass though etching and painting right onto it, he collaborates with artists to create things neither of them would be capable of without the other.

He talks about this relationship between artist and craftsman with a depth so many of us can relate to when we talk about what we love.

Take a look into Norbert’s workshop in this beautiful piece from Breakwater Studios. If you have headphones, grab them: the score and sound design in this piece is as magical as Norbert’s words of wisdom. (Which he talks about in frank terms, so ears sensitive to the occasional passionate curse word, be warned).

If you would like to check out more of Norbert’s work you can visit his website, where you’ll find examples of his collaborations with artists as well as some of the wonderful stories of his work in stained glass restoration.

You can also check out more films from Breakwater Studios over on their Vimeo page, or by checking out their website. They have some incredible short films that are beautifully shot and scored! To make sure you never miss out on a new film, give them a follow on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter!

“When it is not right, work on it, work on it, work on it. Do it, make it right. That is love. And you have to go through it, you have to love your work.” —Norbert Sattler

There are so many things in this world that we do with this kind of love.

Whether we are working on a relationship, learning to cook our favorite dish or play a new piece, we have to fall in love with the process of mastery.

Artists, craftsmen, athletes, parents, they all know that great things come of the kind of love that isn’t always beautiful and isn’t always fun. There is a passion that drives them to continue though, and it’s a passion fueled by love.

When you get to collaborate with other passionate people, there’s a magic that happens. Perhaps that’s why Sattler’s work is so beautiful. Even as he masters his craft, the process of collaboration is always creating something new. It generates new ideas. It gives the world what it could have never seen before. Great collaboration takes us on journies we could have never gone on without it.

13 minutes

Saving Rivers by Turning Toxins Into Art!

How can painting with toxic sludge save rivers? Two professors at Ohio University are teaming up to combine art and science to conserve and protect polluted waterways!

Read More

“Do things with love.” is a mantra we could perhaps use a little more.

If we did things with love would we find ourselves smiling at even the most tedious tasks? In doing things with love would we reach out to new people a little more? If we did things with love how different would the world look?

Here are a few of our articles celebrating extraordinary craftsmanship and what it can teach us all about doing what we do with the life-affirming process.

17 minutes

A Legacy Left in Stone

Stonemasonry is a craft that's been around for millennia. It's shaped some of the cities we know best and brought us beautiful pieces of art that we're still uncovering around the world. But there are only a few of us left who still work with stone, so let's see how these artists are connecting us to both our past and our future with their creations.

Read More

15 minutes

Keeping Tradition Alive in the Scottish Isles

How do we keep traditions alive in this era? On the isle of Harris, the production of Harris Tweed is breathes life into old ways. Take a journey with us and explore this beautiful culture and the landscape that inspires it!

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6 minutes

The Soul of the Sign

We rarely think about how the signage all around us shapes the way we see the world. Here's a man who is keeping the soul in signs by keeping the essence of craftsmanship alive. (Sound boring? Take a look! There's magic here.)

Read More

The world needs more people in love with their work, more people collaborating on new fronts, and more masters in their field. So, what can we learn from the craftspeople that came before us? How can masterful collaboration change our shared future?

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

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We’re just going to come clean with you: we’re running out of money to keep Ever Widening Circles afloat. Do you have any ideas or introductions you can make for us to get closer to funding? Please let us know! Email us directly at hellothere@everwideningcircles.com

Notes:

  1. Breakwater Studios Ltd. “Kunstglaser | A Breakwater Original.” Vimeo, Breakwater Studios Ltd., 13 Sept. 2017, vimeo.com/233755536. Accessed 27 June 2019.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO of Ever Widening Circles, Founder of EWCed

Liesl is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—outdoor enthusiast. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV