New Window Featuring Bendheim’s Lamberts Art Glass Brings Life to Historic New York City Synagogue

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New Silicone Lamination Technique Makes Art Glass Masterpiece Possible

For more than 20 years, workers have been meticulously restoring the Eldridge Street’s 1887 synagogue and museum on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, revitalizing existing design elements and adding new complementary features to the 50-foot tall structure. The recent installation of a new 16-foot diameter stained glass window completed the renovation process of this National Historic Landmark.
Created through the collaboration of artist Kiki Smith and architect Deborah Gans, this spectacular window is comprised of over 1,200 hand-cut pieces of mouth-blown Lamberts art glass provided by Bendheim, an importer of specialty glass since 1927. The rose window features hundreds of the American flag’s five-pointed stars in blue and yellow, radiating from the Star of David at the center of the composition. Some of the stars have been selectively gold leafed to glow in reflected light.
“We used Lamberts acid etched flash glass and traditional silver stain. Then applied the glass using a new silicone lamination technology to create a kaleidoscopic layering of glass and color, resembling a double-layered quilt that infuses the space with an atmosphere of a lively cosmos,” explains Smith, who has been working with Lamberts glass for the past 20 years.
The lead-free lamination technique used in this artwork’s fabrication truly sets it apart. According to the fabricator, Thomas Garcia, owner of The Gil Studio, Inc., this monumental window would have been structurally impossible to build using the traditional leaded glass techniques.
“This is the first large-scale project (produced in the United States) using a more modern technique of lamination instead of the traditional lead method,” he said. The Gil Studio spent more than 500 hours cutting, etching, staining, and laminating the masterpiece.
The silicone lamination of art glass allows the creation of rich, painterly windows of unprecedented size and visual complexity. The technique bonds the carefully cut colored glass pieces to a base glass, creating an elaborate mosaic of light and color, free of the traditional dark lead or copper lines. The base glass can be tempered or laminated in order to meet building safety codes.
“In contrast to a traditional stained glass window, the pieces of glass in the Eldridge Street East Rose Window are separated by lines of light,” remarked Gans. “The field of stars is largely uninterrupted by shadows and reflects the color and light changes in the sky. The color nuance, so characteristic of Lamberts glass, is brought to the fore and truly makes the window come alive.”
Protected by a separate exterior sheet of safety glass, the decorative window is comprised of two layers of Lamberts art glass laminated to a 3/8” clear safety glass base. The layers of glass are shaped into six curved triangular panels, each assembled from hundreds of small colored glass pieces. Garcia selected the material from Bendheim, the sole importer of glass from Glashütte Lamberts of Germany for the last 80 years. Lamberts art glass is crafted through the original, centuries-old mouth-blown cylinder method and exhibits the extraordinary brilliance, structure, and optimal light refraction characteristic of true mouth-blown window glass.
“Having worked with Lamberts glass for over 30 years, I fully expected to find exactly what we needed for the Eldridge Street East Rose Window,” said Garcia. “The additional benefit was the willingness of the people at Bendheim and Lamberts in Germany to accommodate the wishes of Kiki Smith and Deborah Gans by slightly modifying the density of the color. All in all, it was a rewarding experience.”
While the rose window is modern and the only truly new element in the Historic Landmark, its design is in keeping with the architecture and history of the building.  Smith and Gans’ piece replaces a tablet-shaped glass block window installed in 1944 after the original stained glass was damaged. The museum opted for a new design when it determined the records of the original window had been lost.
Opened in 1887, the synagogue is reputed to be the first house of worship built by Eastern European Jews in the United States. After lying in a state of disrepair for nearly 50 years, the structure has been carefully restored to its original grandeur and re-opened to the public.
About Bendheim:
Bendheim, the resource for specialty glass since 1927, offers more than 2,000 decorative glass types in stock and unlimited custom design solutions. The third-generation, family-owned company develops, imports, and distributes its products worldwide. Bendheim maintains production facilities in New Jersey and an extensive showroom in Tribeca, New York City. Bendheim is the exclusive importer of Lamberts glass in North America.
About Lamberts Mouth-blown Glass:
Glashütte Lamberts of Germany has been producing mouth-blown sheet glasses for over 70 years. The centuries-old production method requires extraordinary craftsmanship to create these beautiful and unique glasses. Their unmistakable character is expressed through their body, texture, transparency, and glowing colors. 


About Bendheim

Bendheim is one of the world’s foremost resources for specialty architectural glass. Founded in New York City in 1927, the fourth-generation, family-owned company offers a virtually unlimited range of in-stock and custom architectural glass varieties. Bendheim develops, fabricates, and distributes its products worldwide. The company maintains production facilities in New Jersey and an extensive showroom in New York City