Posts Tagged 'design process'

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.

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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!

Making things for weddings.

I’ve never really considered making things specifically for weddings before, it seems to be a very full market and sometimes a bit cheesey! I was pretty burnt out aftermy own diy wedding (5 years ago this month)  doing the invites, for my own wedding. I wrote a list of everyone coming, counted them up and made all 100 of them an invitation. It did not dawn on me till I sat down to right them all out that due to the number of couples and children I only needed to send out around 60 invites, leaving me a lot of spares!

However, a recent commission and friend’s wedding have led me to revisit the world of wedding design and I have found my 2 latest projects challenging and I am happy with the end results.

Gemma and Andy commissioned me to make 2 stained glass picture frames to compliment their wedding photos. When I first started sketching I found it hard not to make my designs to weddingy.  But by using Gemma’s lovely patterned dress as a basis I have created 2 frames I am happy with (to be photographed when I get their photos to put in them). I have never made picture frames before and I found getting the legs on the back right a bit of a nightmare, but now they are finally finished they are going to look great on the sunny window sill for which they are intended.

My husbands old friend from university, Robin, marries Jo this weekend and as a present I have made them a window decoration using the distinctive design on their wedding invitations as a basis. I am really pleased with this design and I have found a great leaf design which I am realived to have finally got right. I have had ideas for Autumn leaf window decorations floating around my head since sketching apple trees whilst staying in a yurt in an orchard (that sounds quite hippy doesnt it?).

So weddings have made me learn to make picture frames and given me a way forward with  a niggling design problem, not bad for a week in my garage.

Red and blue stained glass flower and leaf motif

Red and blue stained glass flower and leaf motif


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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