When Lockdown 1 ended and life opened up again (for a while) I was approached with an interesting proposition - creating a circular stained glass window, which can only be seen from the front of the outside. The client, Teresa, explained that she wanted something lovely to look at when she arrived home. The window sits in a gable which was once over the front entrance of the house when it was a bungalow. Nowadays the space within is just a low storage area off a bathroom.
Normally, of course, stained glass is viewed from the inside. I suggested that we would need to back light the window and I showed them a mock up involving a cake tin and some LED ribbon. As it turns out, Teresa's husband Richard is an engineer and he volunteered to create a circular lightbox - subsequently dubbed 'The Biscuit Tin'.
Teresa's initial suggestion for a design was plants, as she loves her garden, with the colour red to feature. I knew I needed to create something bold enough to be 'read' at a distance, and I wanted to use the circle in a dynamic way.
I started with design ideas based on ferns, but when we met again to look at the designs and the splendid metal Biscuit Box, with its rings of LEDs, we agreed we needed to adjust our ideas.The effect was a bit startling.
As soon as we put glass onto the light box it became apparent that an abstract design was going to work better - and I could see that with that amount of light I would be able to use gorgeous, deep colours.
So I went back to the drawing board and developed more designs. It struck me, as it has done before, that I can make designs which are quite effective, but not necessarily attractive, such as the top right hand design above which is based on the curl of a new fern leaf. It is slightly creepy! However, the basic vortex idea was firmly embedded in my mind.
I knew I wanted rich colours and textures and I gathered up a palette of glass, and worked out the colours, using both paint and pieces of glass on the lightbox. What the design signifies to me is the light coming out of the darkness, whether it is the initial act of creation ("Let There be Light!), or the light at the end of the dark tunnel we find ourselves in now.
Happily Teresa and Richard are happy to 'go abstract' and Teresa likes the sense of the sun at the centre. Given that she and I met in a yoga class, the piece could equally be called 'Salute to the Sun'!
In selecting the glass I have tried to achieve a balance of textured, wispy glass and plain pieces to provide contrast, and to make the fiery orange the centrepiece. Luckily I had stocked up on my favourites at Reading Stained Glass in February, including a beautiful piece of wispy blue and turquoise Bulls Eye glass . You can see me cutting it above. (The plaster on the finger is a badge of honour in this job.) The other star piece of glass is the wispy orange and red for the centre. Cutting it was nerve-wracking as it was my very last piece.
Happily, Teresa and Richard are happy to 'go abstract' and Teresa likes the sense of the sun at the centre. After a final check of the measurements of the window recess by Richard, I could make the cutline drawing and get cutting. Here it is on the Biscuit Tin.
Now for the leading... I'll have to ask my husband to make a bespoke jig to hold the work on the board. Luckily, he has developed a taste for woodwork.
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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