Early last year I made a panel featuring medieval style birds to go over an internal door. The house was built in the 1970's, but it belongs to someone with a love of the ancient. Last summer she asked me to make a companion panel for the neighbouring doorway, this time incorporating animals.
The suggestion was inspired by the glass in North Leigh Church, particularly the stag, and by a very characterful squirrel in the stained glass collection of Ely Cathedral.
We discussed also including a hare, and a hedgehog. I had fun looking at source material and found that in medieval imagery, a hare is often more like a naughty person than an animal. I found a beautiful little hedgehog in the 'Historia Plantarum', painted in about 1400.
In the end though, a more naturalistic hare was favoured, one of the possibilities seen above as I worked out the design.
While it is great to be asked to make a companion piece, it does bring challenges. My instinct was to use tone as well as line to build up the animal images, and to include some of the interesting decorative elements seen in North Leigh, but in order to be consistent with the first panel, I was confined to using just outline and yellow stain. However, the advantage of the simpler approach, given the low light levels on the landing, is that more light is let through. I cut all the pieces before Christmas and let the project rest.
As I started painting I was conscious of trying to make the lines as springy and lively as possible. I find I need to focus, but in a very relaxed way, and resign myself to washing some attempts down the sink and starting again in order to achieve that.
Once the outlines have been fired overnight in the kiln, I apply stain to the reverse and then fire the pieces again, to give them a golden glow.
Then follows leading, soldering, cementing and finally, blacking the leads. Now it is complete I look forward to taking it to join its companion.
I am a glass artist based in Charlbury, Oxfordshire. I work in stained and fused glass. I work to commission and teach stained glass in my studio. I open my studio to visitors during Oxfordshire Artweeks.
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