Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v04n01)
Fox sisters walk in the footsteps of Theophilus by Candance Lasco
posted: Jan. 12, 2007
Residents of the Broad Ripple area since 1954, Mary and Vincent Fox had a fascination with glass. As Vincent neared retirement, he envisioned days spent reading the stacks of books always present by his arm chair. Mary Fox realized that she needed to keep her husband active, so she set her plan into motion. By 1970, the Village was experiencing a rebirth in the arts. Fox Art Glass opened in one room of a small house on Ferguson Street (see photo at bottom) where Frank's Fiddle Shop was later located. Mary managed the business, and Vincent handled production. The little business of this dynamic duo grew quickly, and soon the old room's floor could not take the weight of the glass. A larger space was needed. In approximately 1973, Fox Art Glass moved to 54th and Winthrop. As the years passed, Vincent Fox authored a book on beveling, and the business's stature grew in the Indianapolis community.
By 1980, Fox needed more studio and fabrication space. The space at 5901 North College Avenue was vacant; built in the 1920's, the red brick building originally housed a grocery and was owned by Joseph Wallace. Former tenants Friendly Foods, Elson's Grocery, and Davis Grocery sold produce, milk, meat and other staples. Later, the building housed a bicycle shop and a TV repair business. When Fox moved in, they were surprised to find an old wooden meat locker still intact. In 1990, the estate of the Wallace family agreed to sell the building to the Fox family; the red brick building still houses today's Fox Studios.
Just like the building passed to generations of the Wallace family, the studio has passed from the first generation of Foxes to the second. Ann Fox Vannice and Clare Fox Acheson never planned to own the business. Growing up in Forest Hills, they often walked to Elson's Grocery. They never dreamed that one day they would own the location, but fate intervened. Clare was studying French in college when the family business called on her talents. Months spent in Europe had given Clare an awe of the beauty of the ancient stained glass windows so common there. She was such a natural with glass that her parents asked her stay on and finish her schooling part time. As the business grew, Ann was also persuaded to put her business skills to work for the family.
During the past 36 years, Fox Studios has become a premier designer and fabricator of stained glass for religious, commercial and residential clients. Accepted as a Full-Studio Member of the Stained Glass Association in 1977, the firm specializes in the design, fabrication, and restoration of art glass. In the studio they paint, etch and bevel glass, as well as create colored stained glass designs.
The talented staff follows steps to create stained glass that has changed little since the monk Theophilus described the process in approximately 1100 AD. After meeting with the clients to gain an understanding of their expectations, a draft of the design is made. The colors and textures for the glass are proposed. Once the clients agree, the design is transcribed into drawing called a "cartoon" that is the exact size of the finished piece. The glass pieces are cut and placed in position; The pieces are leaded together, then soldered and cemented. The result is a translucence that captures light and lifts the spirit.
Stained glass has existed since at least the 10th century. When asked why stained glass has fascinated us throughout the ages, Ann Fox Vannice replied, "People appreciate the beauty, it feeds the soul, and additionally, stained glass is very functional." Stained glass windows grace the Gothic cathedrals of Europe and are magical to behold. You do not have to tour other countries to view the majesty of stained glass, however. You can view Fox's traditional and contemporary creations and restorations in Indianapolis and several Midwest cities (see list below).
Ann Fox Vannice and Clare Fox Acheson have continued the excellent tradition of the first generation of glass experts in their family. They walk in the footsteps of those unknown artists of centuries past. Current projects include the restoration of St. Paul's Episcopal Church and eleven donated panels for the Governor's residence. When asked what the significance of the business name is, the response was, "When the family name is used, it is a continual reminder to always bring honor and integrity to the workplace."
Indiana is honored by the superior legacy Fox Studios has created, and future generations will marvel at their work.
Check out history of stained glass at www.thestorefinder.com/glass/library/history.html
So where can you see the beautiful work of the Fox family?
Friedens United Church of Christ - Indianapolis: The Chapel Window
St. Edward the Confessor Church - Indianapolis: Scenes from the Life of Christ, Saints and Martyr
St. Simon The Apostle Catholic Church - Fishers: The Ascension, Stations of the Cross
Crown Hill Cemetery - Indianapolis: Mausoleum Window
Indianapolis - Marion County Public Library, Glendale Branch
Indianapolis: The Quiet Room Windows(donation in honor of parents)
St. Mary Catholic Church: restoration
Indiana State Capitol Building - Indianapolis: The Rotunda(restoration), Supreme Court and House of Representatives
You may also take an arm chair tour of their work by visiting their website.
In the beginning...