HIGHLAND PARK, Calif. – For a thousand years, stained glass windows adorned churches throughout Europe, but for the last 125 years, Judson Studios in Highland Park have been making them in Los Angeles. David Judson is the 5th generation of his family to work with stained glass, but growing up, he didn’t expect to join the family business.

“Stained glass was invented about a thousand years ago,” explained Judson, President of Judson Studios. “We like to say that the latest thing that was invented in stained glass was the glass cutter and that was over 500 years ago. Today we still use a lot of the same techniques. The pieces of glass by hands and now they'll be fitted almost like a puzzle.”


Started in 1897 by great great grandfather William Lees, Judson brings a 21st century sensibility and technological savvy to this ancient craft. What used to be drawn by hand can now be designed on a computer, but even more unconventional is the ability to create stained glass windows without lead. They do this by fusing colored frit together and heating it in a kiln. It’s a lot like painting with sand.

“We have been able to take the tradition of stained glass, combine it with contemporary artwork and create a totally new way of making stained glass windows,” said Judson. “For a craft that’s been around since the 11th Century, nothing’s really changed drastically until today.”

A technique invented in the 1990s, Judson opened a brand new studio dedicated to fuse glass and collaborates with contemporary artists to create stained glass artworks with amazing transitions of color without hard lines.

“One of the things that I think about is what my father or grandparents would think of what we're doing today because technically what we're doing is not something that was even possible during their time,” said Judson.

Their legacy is now remembered in a book Judson spent four years writing with Steffie Nelson. Out now through Angel City Press, Judson: Innovation in Stained Glass chronicles how five generations revolutionized a traditional artform in L.A.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, please visit Angel City Press.


“The legacy is exciting to be a part of and I think he'd be proud and excited to know that today we're doing projects that are part of the fabric of the buildings that we live and work in day to day,” said Judson. 

Pick up the book and look at the pictures.