“I’ve outlasted most everyone else,” said Warren. “I started volunteering on the Robb Field’s Recreational Council when our son started playing youth soccer. I’m still working with the council and now have grandsons playing sports. I also started the Dusty Rhodes Recreation Council. I was always good at sports. My motto is, ‘If you’re short and left-handed, you need to be quick.’”
Meanwhile, Warren’s stained-glass company, Pat’s 1502 Glassworks, is celebrating its 40th year in business. She said she had very inauspicious entry into the stained-glass business.
“In the early ’70s, some friends asked me to join their stained-glass class because they needed one more student to keep it going,” she said.
Warren loved it and took more classes. At the time, she and her husband, Max, were enlarging their house and had some old stained-glass windows that needed repairing. Her teacher convinced her to repair them to open a clear path to their family business. Their daughter, Carrie, joined the company in 1996.
Warren also makes an effort to preserve local stained-glass windows.
“We’ve been salvaging old windows [pre-1929] from homes the Port District is removing to exchange for new triple-paned vinyl windows,” she said. “Many people appreciate the imperfections of the old process and there is quite a market for it. Diamond patterns were very popular back in the ’20s and ’30s, but after 80 years, the lead frequently wears out, so we always have a rebuild project going on in the shop … We seldom part with anything [glass], because we may need it tomorrow.”
Stained glass must be able to resist wind and rain and support its own weight, but Warren said most stained glass isn’t as fragile as it looks, either.
“For large panels, however, we attach rebar and secure it into the frame to help keep the piece from sagging, which will eventually will happen thanks to gravity,” Warren said.
A lot of different elements go into making stained glass, like potash, soda, lime, silica, metallic oxide powders, copper oxide, gold, silver and other items. Warren belongs to a stained-glass association and goes on trips to various foundries, art studios and places where great new glass ideas come from. There are several hundred artists in the association and they all help each other.
San Diego has many fine examples of stained glass, including The Jesse Sheppard House, John Ernst CPA house on First Avenue in Bankers Hill, the Hotel Del Coronado and the Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church in Coronado, which uses Tiffany glass.
“Every job has its own unique character and makes work fun,” Warren said. “Even after 40 years at the same job, we learn something new nearly every day. “
Some of the Warren’s artwork includes the front door stained-glass window of the historic Queen Anne Victorian house of CPA John Ernst at 2408 First Ave. near Balboa Park. Recently, the Warrens built a stunning 75th anniversary chancel window in the remodeled Point Loma Community Presbyterian Church. The artwork was designed by Michael Huff and Suzy Spafford Lindstrom of “Suzy’s Zoo” fame.
Stained-glass work has its unique risks, but Warren said she at least still has all her fingers.
“I cut myself fairly often but one learns to be really careful around glass,” Warren said. “Lead poisoning is a greater risk. We try to be vigilant and have our lead levels checked every six months. We call holistic people to work with us when our levels start to rise … Their cleaning processes and herbs bring our levels down when traditional doctors can’t.”
The Warren’s warehouse, located in an alley near Point Loma High School, has special benefits that are hard to see.
Warren is clear about the future of stained glass.
“As long as people continue to think and experiment, I know the stained-glass industry will continue to evolve,” she said.