A twinkle, a shadow, a rosy hue streaming through glass of pink and red, light seems to dance when it comes through stained glass. For a mausoleum, it can bring life and personality to a building that’s entire purpose is to represent a person or family. That’s what Rock of Ages stained glass artisan Susan Giroux-Cohen loves about it. “When you add a stained glass window, the light comes in and moves across the room throughout the day; it brings so much beauty.”
Mausoleums provide an alternative option to underground burial. The granite building can hold the remains of one person or an entire family. There are endless personalization options available to reflect the loved ones they hold, including stained glass, columns, door styles, entry architecture, building architecture style, type of stone, number of crypts and the incorporation of cremation niches. It’s one of the most intimate forms of artistry.
Susan would know. She grew up in Graniteville, Vermont, just a stone’s throw from the former Rock of Ages headquarters. Her father Phil Giroux owned a business sandblasting decorative details on monuments and sculptures, well-known for their roses. “I would walk there after school and sit and watch these amazing stone artists from Italy doing their work and they’d be singing opera. It was eye-opening for me. I wanted to be like them!”
Susan tried a number of different artistic mediums until she landed on stained glass. Initially, it began as a stress reliever from her busy human resources career in the biotech sector. Things took a turn when her brother-in-law Dan Brown, Manufacturing Plant Manager at Rock of Ages, suggested she should make stained glass windows for their granite mausoleums. “I literally laughed out loud!” she exclaims. “I was making little Christmas trees! I didn’t think I was there yet. But then I thought, why couldn’t I do that?” She began to take her art more seriously, took more classes, and started her business, SueBee Glass. In 2010, Susan approached Rock of Ages about a partnership: “It’s been a wonderful collaboration ever since,” she said.
When someone chooses to incorporate stained glass windows into their mausoleum, that’s where Susan comes in. She said each piece she does for a family or private mausoleum is the result of talking to clients to find out whom it’s for, what they loved and what they want to incorporate into the windows. “Each client is different. I listen to their emotions, why they are building an above-ground mausoleum, and what they hope to get out of it. While it’s a sad thing to do, it’s also wonderful.”
She said popular window themes are animals and trees. “One client said their family member had parakeets that she loved, so we incorporated them into the design. She also loved magnolia trees, so we had magnolias wrap around the building.”
For the Chambers family project, a classic 12-crypt mausoleum in Blue Gray granite built specifically to keep the family close together for all eternity, Herb Chambers specifically requested a dove release, which takes a prominent place in the mausoleum. You can read more about this project here.