Posts Tagged 'dartmoor'

A Dartmoor Scene

Just finished this little Dartmoor clapper bridge scene, for a house in a little village on the Moor. yet again my work is destined for a toilet window and it does make me chuckle how many bathrooms and toilets have one of my stained glass windows in them!

design and paintedrabbit detail Throwleigh windowthrowleigh clapper bridge window

As usual I have cut the glass, painted my designs on to the pieces and then fired them in the kiln, before leading up the panel, soldering the joins and cementing all the gaps to make it water tight. I have added lots of little details to to give the piece interest including a little rabbit in the grasses and some fish swimming about in the river.

Moor Inspiration

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We can see Dartmoor from our garden and yesterday answered their eiree call and headed for the hills. I get so many ideas for designs this way and Vixen Tor is my new muse. It has it’s own legend (as any self respecting Dartmoor landmark should) and it is said that a witch lives in the rocks and conjours up mists to lure travellers to  their death in the marshy bogs beneath. We could not find out for sure about the witch, as the Tor itself is on private land. But Dartmoor’s highest stone stack is a stark beauty wouldn’t you say?

Red Bamboo and Dragon flies

Bamboo and Dragon fly, bespoke stained glass window

Bamboo and Dragon fly, bespoke stained glass window

This panel was installed last week, it fills a window between the kitchen and dining room in a 1930’s house in Exeter. The opening between the front and back of the house allows more light into the kitchen area as well as a wonderful focal point for both rooms.

Every commission comes with a brief and I managed to create a design that had bright colours and bamboo and water with dragonflies.

There is a pleasing sense of movement in the bamboo due to using Spectrum Water Glass and I have painted the shading and detail onto the bamboo stems.

I have used a mixture of antique mouth blown glass and modern Spectrum Glass. I have used traditional glass paints and luster which Dragon Fly and Bamboo Detailhave been fired in the kiln. This is a big panel and to give it extra strength I have used some internal reinforcing and a rigid metal frame.

To find out what the differences between different types of glass are click here 

See how mouth blown stained glass is made at Lambert’s UK glass factory by clicking here

The big reveal!

looking up at Mountain Ash in situThis year for Devon Open Studios I decided to have a change of scene and participate in a couple of sculpture trails. As a result, Yarner Wood has been the main focus of my work for a while now, its a English Nature reserve outside Bovey Tracey on the edge of Dartmoor and is being restored to a Western Oak Wood. The theme of the trail is man’s relationship with the environment and I have taken the history of the wood as inspiration for my pieces which combine cross sections of tree trunk from Yarner Wood (48ish year old Douglas Fir) with fused and mosaic glass. Speaking to the staff at the woods gave me the idea of the wood being at the heart of all the human activity in the woods and in turn human activity having shaped the woods use and appearance. This is turn led The bomb that saved the wood, detailto the idea of taking the core, or heart out of the discs of wood and fill them with glass pieces; the juxtaposition of the natural wood and the very modern man made glass is very appealing to me. There are 10 artists exhibiting on this fabulous trail from conceptual to sound artists and everything in between and I am very excited to be part of such an interesting project.

I picked the tree trunk up in 3 and 6 inch cross sections, with quite a lot of wild life attached and I must confess it was a bit daunting….but then my ever useful Dad arrived and looking up at Mountain Ash 2cut all the central cores out of the slabs of wood, many thanks to him, I would never get any sculptures made without his patience! Each of the sculptures is cast to the size of the individual holes and are made from recycled waste glass. This series of sculptures is my largest series of sculptures to date and I am very pleased with the results.

green man 2The first piece on the trail is my take on the age old Green Man ‘Welcome to the Woods’, it is right at the start of the trail and is there to welcome people to the woods, reflecting man’s symbiotic relationship with nature and the timeless cycle of life.  The first firing of this piece cast all the scraps of clear, green and yellow glass into a disc shape, then I painted the design on and fired it again.

Becoming Autumn is the second piece on the trail. Again I used recycled waste glass (this time Spectrum 96 series), and depicted oak leaves changing Becoming Autumn in situcolour as the season changes. The trail starts at the beginning of autumn and it seemed like a great reflection of human enjoyment of nature for leisure, a very modern use of the natural environment!

My third piece on the trail is also inspired by the modern use of woodland for peace and reflection. ‘ Looking up at Mountain Ash’ takes inspiration from the wonderful Rowan trees in the wood and the simple pleasure of looking up at the shapes and light of the woodland. As with the previous piece this one is fused with small scraps of Spectrum 96 glass. While I was installing this piece I had a fabulous interaction with a young male deer (whose antlers were still small and fuzzy) who came bounding through the wood, regarded me and then turned and bounded on through the undergrowth.

copper blue in situThe wood has not always been a tranquil retreat from the pressures of modern life and 150 years ago a very active copper mine was on the site, lots of charcoal burning and the lord of the manor owned the area and exercised his horses on the wood. The next piece ‘Copper Blue’ riffs on this history, the blue glass is copper bearing and the cast disc has copper sheet inclusions and is hung between two fence posts, a prolific sign of how humans have shaped the wood!

In World War II the wood was earmarked to be cut down to assist with timber for the war effort, however, when a German bomber discharged his last bombs after a raid on Plymouth (in order to get home faster) the wood was hit and many of the trees then grew twisted and damaged, no good for timber manufacturing. This has inspired the next piece ‘The Bomb that Saved the Wood’.  Here 2 pieces hang one above the other. The top one has 2 discs of glass bang! detailwithin it to give a sense of depth and fire and the one below has a fun Pop Art feel with the word BANG painted across it.

The trail now turns a corner and the piece of the woodland really encompasses you, this is where I have placed my last hollowed wood piece, ‘Tranquil’. Tranquil cast acorns detailI have used various pieces of blue and sea green scrap glass to create the disc and then cast a separate acorns and oak leaves from crushed cast glass which have then be attached to the disc.

I continued with cast glass objects for the next piece, ‘Which came first?’. Here I have mosaic waste white and cream scraps of glass to the shape of the central core of the wood, which is happily egg shaped and then attached my cast glass bird. I am very pleased with both my cast pieces and this is a skill I am very much still learning this complicated area of glass art! which came first

cogs in situMy final serious sculpture on the trail is ‘Cogs’ made to express how we are all part of the great machine of life I have taken 3 of the cores my Dad removed from the wood and created different coloured bands which match up with the tree rings below.

All this serious art work is all well and good, but we all need a bit of fun and to add this to my trail I have made a child side bird house from recycled marine ply, which I got from the fabulous Bristol Wood Recycling Project. Permanent markers will be available for visitors to decorate the bird house as the pass it and lots of colourful material will be inside for children to make their own birds nest.

The trail opens on Saturday 7th September and is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until the 22nd September, refreshments are available in the woodland centre and the trail is free and only 2.5 km, so a child friendly distance! click on the link for more details http://www.artecology.co.uk/page2.php

Our preview is Saturday 7th September and all the artists will be on hand to talk about their work and show people round the trail.

 

 

I find finishing stained glass panels harder than starting them!

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This morning it was very cold in my studio, very cold indeed! It was one of those mornings when I really had to force myself to walk the 3 metres to my studio! Had I been working on new pieces this probably wouldn’t have been the case, I would have bounded out to start experimenting and getting on with what I do best: STARTING THINGS!

I LOVE starting things, cutting a new piece of glass, turning my ideas into physical objects.

I am not such a fan of finishing things, this reticence begins at a particular point of my artistic process, the cementing stage. Once I have cut the glass, done the fancy effects to the glass surface and leaded the piece up, (read more about cementing here) it essentially looks like a stained glass panel. BUT you still have lots of time consuming work to do; namely cementing. This involves filling all the gaps in the lead chanels that surround the glass (and hold it in place) with a liquidy mixture of ground up lead and linseed oil. Once the gaps are filled whiting (plaster of Paris essentially) is used to soak up the wetness of the cement and help dry out the panel. Then it all has to be cleaned off the glass and the lead work, its dusty and messy. On top of that it is toxic, I wear a mask and vacuum regularly as lead dust is poisonous and I get RSI from too much cementing in my right hand….generally its not my favourite thing!

HOWEVER it is totally essential to creating a watertight panel and it does something magical to the design, its hard to say exactly what, it makes it more solid, gets rid of all the gaps and spaces and the black of the cement gives it more physicality somehow.

So when I dragged myself out to the workshop and got on with the cementing the result was well worth doing a grotty task for; my finished pieces are starting to take shape and it reminds me, like it always does of the delicious little thrill of finishing a piece of work.  Now I just have to patina acid wash them and polish the lead with stove black……pfffff…….I’m sure I have some pressing new work to start on!

The gallery below is a peep at some of the work which will be finished soon, my first digital transfer work and some cool new Dartmoor pieces, all cemented today.

First in a new series, inspired by my children

I am working on some new themes for this year’s work, one of which is a series of panels inspired by my children, trying to capture how they view the world and the tales that capture their imagination. The seed of this was planted in the summer when I made them a mermaid window for their room, read about that here The first finished piece is called ‘The Fox and The Moon’ and expresses the excitement and wonder my girls enjoy in our garden at night. When the familiar becomes other worldly and the local wildlife come out to play! Amazingly we also have a hedgehog, bats and slow worms in our city centre garden, much to their delight! The panel itself is composed of bright primary colours and every piece of glass has been altered in some way; kiln formed glass  textures of the moon and the tree, lino cut printed houses and fox (which have then been fired in the kiln) and acid etched details of grass and stars. It should be framed soon, ready for sale on my website or gallery exhibit, not sure which yet!

Capturing other people’s memories of long summers by the sea

Just lately its been all about craft fairs and exhibitions, which means making lots of the things that I know sell well, which can make me feel like more of a machine than an artist! But bubbling away in the background I have been working on a series of panels for a customer who has previously brought large exhibition pieces and now wanted something special to her family to give as Christmas presents.

The design brief was to capture their childhood summers in Devon sailing around the coast and walking the coast paths picking blackberries in the late summer with the sea and the cliffs in the background and here are the resulting 3 sizes of panels, the largest will be housed in a bespoke wooden frame tomorrow (the glue is still drying in the local carpenters workshop), the medium panel is edged with sea glass and both have kiln fired painted details.  The yellow boat is cut from lovely mouth blown glass as the family boat was very important to their holiday’s. The contours of the cliffs are picked out in swirly cinnamon baroque glass which adds texture and the sea and grass are from water glass which mimics the ripples of water, especially when the sunshines through it and creates shimmery water reflections. The opaque glass used for the sails adds a good contrast to the transparent glass and leads the eye to the centre of the panel.  The smallest panel is a simpler version of the big ones with acid etched berries and leaves.

The colours and simplified forms of the design give the panel a retro feel; its wonderful being involved in creating such special Christmas gifts and I am really pleased with the results, I hope they are too!


I am a stained glass artist working in Exeter and a busy mum of 2; trying to carve a path through the tide of washing and children's toys that stands between me and making beautiful things.

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