This is not my normal kind of post. I have not just finished a big commission, though I have plenty of them to be getting on with. It’s also very early in the morning, so my family know there is something up today! Indeed there is. I have got up early to day to (slight panic) bulk buy essential materials of my trade! Why? Well…..
Spectrum Glass Company announced the sad news that after 40 years of art glass production they are set to close. I use a lot of Spectrum glass, that clever texture that makes the glass look like ripples on water- that is their glass. Glass with a perfect flat finish to print onto – that’s their glass. Affordable, reliable, easy to cut and constantly pushing forward the science of glass for enhanced compatibility and new effects in warm glass techniques; I have come to take their products for granted. For example I start a major public commission in September and I was planning to use their glass for its fabrication. The main reason for their demise seems to be a dramatic drop in sales since ‘the c
rash’ they say around 40%. Now Spectrum are not a small, artisan company they are one of a handful of international glass manufacturers who specialise in art glass and this is a major disruption in the force for us glass artists. Even glass artists who do not use their products will feel the effects as it is bound to have a knock on effect to the pricing of other companies glass (especially warm glass supplies), as glass becomes a rarer commodity – that’s just supply and demand.
But how can this be happening? My studio is not in decline! I am busy, too busy, I cannot keep up with demand for my work from galleries, I have a 3 month lead time with commissions. At gallery openings and Private Views people always enquire if I am busy, I can always honestly say, ‘Yes, I am so busy I struggle to keep up with it. Stained glass is a declining industry and their are fewer people with my skills with working studios every year – I get busier all the time.’
But I guess Spectrum’s closure is the reality of my slightly flippant words, this is the first time I am faced with the flip side of this supply and demand situation, as our skills become scarce so do the materials we work with and the people who make them for us. RIP Spectrum Glass, I will miss you very much.
Images of work made entirely from Spectrum – a little homage to my favourite supplier.
I have just installed this large window, which I have been working on for the last couple of months. It is just over a metre square and is situated in the lounge/diner of a modern bungalow. The client was keen to obscure the view from the window: an ugly brick wall and as she has a special love of the Island of Tresco a landscape seemed like the perfect solution.
The window has lots of details, to keep the viewer interested over a long period. As well as using a wide range of textures and types of stained glass (from antique, mouth blown glass to modern, machine rolled iridescent water glass) and have acid etched shells into the glass in the border and painted agapanthus (in a mixture of glass enamels and lustre, which were then fired in the kiln) and other natural details in the panel itself.
The window sits in front of a double glazed window, resting on the window sill and is screwed into the window surround with small brackets and thanks to my helpful dad who made a frame for the panel to sit in.
The Tresco panel has transformed the room and because it is visible from the front door, it has added the ‘wow factor’ to the property from the minute you walk in. It was such a dark, grey day today the photos really don’t do the piece credit; but I am assured that in a brief break in the clouds, the sun was shining through the panel and sending colourful blocks of coloured light around the room.
I get quite nervous about delivering work, what if it doesn’t fit? What if they hate it? But it fits perfectly and the client emailed me to say , “Thank you for the beautiful window! As the light is going the colours coming through are stunning-doesn’t show when photo taken-and earlier sitting on the sofa looking at it -wow!” So I can rest easy, phew!
My latest commission has just been delivered! Destined for Smallicome Farm B&B, this panel has lots of symbolism for the family. The scene reflects the gorgeous countryside around their farm, which is nestled in a green valley just outside Honiton, Devon.
The family farm is run by several generations and there were lots of different animals and features they wanted to include. The result is a colourful reflection of the farm and its warm family atmosphere.
As with all my stained glass, I have painted all the features onto the glass and fired them in the kiln (2 whole kiln loads in this window!). There is lots of detail in this panel, from the pigs which are part of their company logo to the tiny bird on the apple basket. They run a mixed farm and the sheep and cows on the hill reflect this. I am especially pleased with how the tree has come out, the glass for this is 30 years old and is a lovely dark amber.
I have then leaded the panel using traditional leading techniques and it is going to be the central panel in a triple glazed wooden window unit. The panel celebrates the conclusion of their extensive restoration project and is going into a bricked up door. This makes a great back lit feature to the farm reception area, so when people arrive at night they are given a little slice of colour and it is a great feature for the families private living room on the other side. Because it is going into a glazed unit its going to be well insulated! Honiton Joinery are making up the glazed unit.