On Saturday I was in the glass workshop in Ely Cathedral, at the beginning of a day course on stained glass painting techniques with Pippa Blackwell. I had brought with me the outline of a creature I believed was a dragon, but my fellow student Julia was more knowledgable about heraldry and she immediately recognised it as a wyvern - a two legged creature with wings and horns. Good to know!
I had been waiting months to do this course and it was satisfying to learn how to use the long rigger brush properly with the hand-rest, to make confident and lively lines. Then we got it fired quickly (in a rather crowded garage next to the cathedral) before applying a matt of paint all over, smoothing it out with the badger hair brush and beginning to work into that with a stiff little brush - that is how I created texture in the wings and what I hope suggests a slimy sheen down his tail. Finally, we applied silver stain on the other side, which is what gives the golden colour and it is this which is the origin of the term 'stained glass'. Then it was fired again to take home. Now I can ponder how best to frame it. A rich royal blue I think.
The weekend was rounded off with a nostalgic wander around Cambridge (I studied History of Art there). My head full of paint and stain, we sought out the work of John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens in the chapels of Churchill College and Robinson College, both built after the Second World War.
In recent times, the builders of new Oxbridge colleges have had very ambivalent feelings about whether there should be a chapel at all - especially at Churchill, which was founded to support the sciences and technology in particular. But surely it is a good thing to have a contemplative space within each college, where students and staff can sit occasionally and watch pools of coloured light fall onto the floor? Somewhere to put their 'essay crisis' or departmental wrangles into perspective?
I hope you enjoy the slideshow below.
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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