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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Stained glass with Mayan tones

GUATEMALA CITY – When most people think of stained glass, they think of churches – old, stone buildings filled with narrow windows depicting religious scenes. But not Lyn Hovey. The U.S. craftsman’s fusion of ancient techniques and modern designs has been providing schools, offices and homes around the world with one-off stained glass creations for more than 50 years.

In 1972, Hovey opened up his first studio in Boston, Massachusetts, using 13th and 14th century painting techniques to design windows, Tiffany-inspired bent glass lampshades, awnings and illuminated mirrors. More than 30 years later, after falling in love with Guatemala’s culture and people, he founded another studio in the colonial city of Antigua, 30 kilometers southwest of Guatemala City.

Stained glass window

A finished piece, influenced by Mayan huipiles. The owner said it is too perfect to be hidden behind curtains.

Anna-Claire Bevan

“I absolutely love Guatemala and believe it to be a place of profound spirituality,” Hovey says. “I hope I have been giving back by choosing Guatemala as the location of my satellite studio and training Guatemalans in this ancient art form, which is extremely rare to find in Central America.”

Two years ago, Hovey was presented with a sketch of a Guatemalan huipil – a traditional woven blouse worn by indigenous Guatemalan women – and challenged to execute it into a stained glass window for a house on the outskirts of Antigua.

“We wanted a stained glass window with a typical Guatemalan design on it, and there’s nothing more Guatemalan than textiles,” says homeowner Jan Theberge.

Alongside his team of local experts, Hovey spent two months working on the intricate design, using gold to bring out the pinks and purples before firing the piece in the company’s kiln.

“The first day the window was put in I just sat in the rocking chair enjoying it. It’s beyond all expectations,” Theberge says. “It’s so perfect that we don’t want to curtain it; we’re just going to leave it as it is. … When the sun comes through it sparkles.”   

The family is so fond of the window that they have since asked Lyn to make another huipil-inspired stained glass window using a slightly different color palette.

“The huipil project as well as some other projects of mine dealing specifically with the Maya cosmology are very meaningful to me, as I have the greatest respect and affection for the Maya culture, its spirituality and its traditions,” Hovey says.

For more information on Lyn Hovey’s designs, visit


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