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Ste. Chapelle


Paris, France

I read in my trusty Rick Steves' guidebook that Ste. Chapelle was pretty amazing church with lots of stained glass, so after visiting Notre Dame, we walked over to Ste. Chapelle.  

It was a cloudy, drizzly day, and after looking at the rather unremarkable outside of the chapel, my parents questioned if it was worth it to wait in lines for tickets and then admittance.  I really wanted to see why Rick Steves' called it a hidden gem, so I convinced them to wait.  We entered the lower chapel, and kind of looked around, and was afraid that I made a mistake!

The lower chapel feels very small and very dark. While the ceiling vaults were impressive and the paint on the walls and ceiling was rich, it left you feeling like "we stood in the rain for this".  Then I noticed people at the back disappearing off to the left and we walked back to see what was going on.  There was a very narrow circular stone staircase leading up, so we joined in the procession.  I remember the climb seemed to be really slow, even though it only went up one floor,  and I wondered what was taking so long.  As soon as we got to the top, I knew!  As you come out into the upper chapel, you just stopped and stared with your mouth open, blocking the stairs!

The stained glass was breathtaking!  The 2 long sides of the chapel were practically all glass, with very little stone wall in between supporting them, and the windows themselves were 49' tall!

If you are going to Paris, you MUST make time to visit Ste Chapelle, and you might even need to go twice.  You'll want to see the windows from the inside during the day (and trust me, they are completely amazing even on a cloudy day), but I have heard that they do concerts a couple of evenings each week, and it is often Vivaldi's Four Seasons.  Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps!


Fun Facts:

  • Built between 1238 and 1248 by King Louis IX as a private chapel for the nobility
  • In addition to wanting a place to worship, he needed a safe place to keep the 22 religious relics in his possession
  • Among the relics housed in Ste. Chapelle, are the Crown of Thorns, and fragments of the True Cross and the Holy Lance
  • Ste. Chapelle is comprised of 2 chapels - the upper one was for the royal family (and the relics), and the lower chapel was for the household staff
  • The stained glass windows were created in the 13th century
  • The chapel was heavily damaged during the French Revolution, but remarkably, over 2/3 of the original windows still remain
  • They depict the stories from the Bible, starting with Genesis and ending with Revelation
  • There are 168 square meters (1808 sq feet) of stained glass in the upper chapel
  • The windows were removed during WWII to protect them and were later reinstalled

Process And Size Guidelines

I handcraft each piece in my home studio, located just outside of Kansas City, MO.

Most of the photos I use were taken by me on my travels near and far.    I review each photo, looking for striking colors and strong structural elements.    If you think of the entire design as a pie, I am looking for a perfect “slice” of pie within the picture.  Once I find it, the slice is mirrored and repeated in a circular fashion to create the whole pie, i.e. the kaleidoscopic design.


The design then is printed multiple times onto photo paper and I hand cut different elements from each copy of the design with scissors (yes, scissors!). After the cutting is done, I reassemble the pieces into tiered layers separated by foam core, creating the unique three-dimensional kaleidoscopic effect.  Finally, I mount the piece onto mat board and frame it in a shadow box, adding a small copy of the original photo to the piece.



Each design is available in multiple sizes.  The larger the piece, the more layers the design will have, which gives you even greater depth and dimension.  The larger size also allows for more intricate cutting, providing more texture and more "wow"!


Outside Dimensions Inside Dimensions Frame Color
9.75" x 9.75" x 2" 9" x 9" x 1.5" Black
13.5" x 13.5" x 2.75" 12" x 12" x 2.25" Black
18.5" x 18.5" x 4" 16" x 16" x 3" Custom made reclaimed cedar with museum quality plexiglass front