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Bruce Hippel created the panels over two years, including extensive theological research and planning before the glass cutting, hand painting, heat firing and
assemblage could begin.


One panel depicts Jesus throwing the money changers from the temple.

Photos courtesy of
Kimberly Smith/ksmith@ajc.com

By ELLIOTT BRACK
For The Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/09/08

Bruce Hippel does windows. Stained glass windows, to be more precise.

In recent days the 55 -year-old Villas, N.J., resident has been in Norcross,
overseeing the re -installation of hand -made stained glass windows he created
for Christ Episcopal Church when it was on West Peachtree Street in downtown
Norcross.

In 1998, when the church moved five blocks around the corner to its current
location on Holcomb Bridge Road, the windows were removed and placed in
storage. They've been there 10 years.

A recent anonymous gift to the church funded the re - installation of the eight, 8-
foot-high windows that are made up of 20 different panels. The works, which
depict Holy Week, are being placed in the church's entry way and together
measure 8 feet by 22 feet.

Hippel, who has been a stained glass artist for 30 years, did extensive research
over two years as he first designed, then painted, then built, the panels. He also
came to Norcross in 1995 to install the panels at the church's former location.

He said the re -installation is going well.

"We had a break the other day. But luckily I came with replacement glass."

He hopes to finish by the end of the week, possibly Thursday.

Featuring a design of interlocking circles, the windows show scenes from Jesus'
entry into Jerusalem through his resurrection.

Originally from Philadelphia, Hippel is a self-taught stained glass artist who
works out of his home studio.

"I've been drawing and painting since I could pick up a pencil," he said. "I looked
one day at a stained glass piece when I was 25, picked up a book, got some
glass and a cutter and began.

"When I went to my job the next day, I had seven or eight Band -Aids on my
fingers," from the glass cutting him, he said.
Hippel became a full -time artist at age 26, when he "realized I could get paid to
do it."

He went into extensive study to produce the windows for Christ Church.
"I read the Gospels, and then I wrote to Princeton Theological Seminary for more
information," he said. "The story in the panels of Holy Week is quite a story and
was a spiritual journey for me, also."

Since the Christ Church work, he has done two sets of six panels for the Church
of the Holy Nativity in Panama City, Fla.

"About a year ago, I did another church window for Cape May Point [N.J.]. I really enjoy doing church art."

Another job was an entirely different type of customer: the Old Brewhouse in downtown Philadelphia.

Hippel conceived the idea for the Christ Church windows after talking to his father - in-law, the Rev. Joel Hudson, former rector of Christ Church. He had earlier done individual stained glass panels in the entrance way of the church when it was remodeled.

Besides his stained glass work, Hippel over the years has dabbled in real estate, but his first love is art.

He also has taught at the Ocean Center of Art and Cape May County Technical School. He and his wife, Robin, from Atlanta, have three children.

The original Christ Church location once was the First Baptist Church of Norcross, and that building was over 100 years old.

Christ Episcopal Church currently has a congregation of 800 members. It holds two services on Sunday during the summer, an English service at 10 a.m. and a Hispanic service at noon.

 


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