Carl Trimble knew he wasn’t going to sell life insurance forever. Despite being quite good at his profession, Trimble would often catch himself thumbing through spreads of Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, Architectural Digest and others, always stopping to marvel at the mesmerizing stained glass that occasionally graced those pages. It was in the fall of 1967 when Trimble first started toying with the idea of creating his own stained glass. Ten years later he would leave the insurance world behind to build his storied career as one of North Texas’ most prolific stained-glass artists.
“For me, learning the stained-glass world meant a lot of trial and error. I think I cut my fingers to the bone during those first few years,” Trimble says. “But I kept at it and realized how much I loved it. I would learn things, like the Tiffany Method, from magazines and then try to re-create what I saw in my spare time.”
Trimble spent many of his formidable years as an artist in his birthplace of Tyler, Texas. From a small studio just north of the East Texas city’s historic square, to custom designs on glittering new builds, the 78-year-old isn’t afraid of a challenge.
“Everything I was doing when I started to gain success was very intuitive,” Trimble says. “I couldn’t tell you why some things worked and others didn’t. I just knew that I finally found what I was going to do for the rest of my life.”
As a majority of his commissions were coming from Dallas, Trimble moved west, eventually enrolling at the University of North Texas (UNT) where he would go on to earn his Master of Fine Arts degree. Trimble credits this education for transforming his craft.
“Being at UNT allowed me to pursue design independently of a client,” Trimble says. “My master’s degree was in sculpture and, in some ways, I was able to incorporate sculptural elements into my work.”
Touring Trimble’s work will take you to some of Dallas’ most notable properties. From the Park City Club (Trimble’s first major Dallas commission) to spaces like the Old Parkland Hospital and The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Trimble’s work is interwoven into the fabric of the city. Outside of Texas, his work includes a historic re-creation for a courthouse in Edgewater, New Jersey; consulting for a Catholic church in Ocala, Florida; work for Trammell Crow interests in Atlanta; and other projects across the Northeast.
Alongside Trimble’s extensive commercial portfolio is his equally impressive work in residential spaces. From restorations on century-old homes to custom designs on glittering new builds, the 78-year-old isn’t afraid of a challenge.
“There’s some amazing architecture in and around Dallas, particularly in the M Streets and in Kessler Park, which features some stunning stained glass,” Trimble says. “It’s always interesting to work on these types of projects because some of the best work was completed centuries ago.”
Trimble’s Northwest Dallas studio is quite the upgrade from his former Tyler digs. The expansive space is home to his collection of coveted tools, everything from 100-year-old beveling equipment to custom- designed devices that allow him to tackle any stainedglass calamity with confidence.
Trimble’s upcoming projects will have him hopping across the state. From the pending creation of new work for a Catholic church in Laredo, Texas, to the installation of three impressive stained-glass domes in Dallas’ Hare Krishna Temple, Trimble shows no signs of slowing down.
“In art history you learn that a number of amazing artists didn’t reach their creative peak until they were in their 70s or 80s, and I like to think that I’m still reaching my peak,” Trimble says. “Two hundred years from now, I’ll have a legacy in this city that my grandkids’ kids can look at and know that the work is mine. How great is that?”
Chase Wade is a Texas-based freelance writer. Read more of his work at chasewadewrites.com.