5 period windows restored and a wedding present for a canal boat crazy couple.
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.
I have just installed these 2 windows into a newly renovated home in Exeter. The building itself is an old vicarage, which is several hundred years old and has been added to over the years, most significantly in the 1960s and again by the new owners. They have added a new atrium and extension, but this has left the bathroom on the ground and first floors with windows over looking the staircase, so one of the main design factors was obscuring the bathrooms for privacy.
The clients wanted lots of colour, lots of fish and lots of blue. The windows are one above another and visible both from the staircase and the bathrooms. The bottom panel has coral and the fronds
of seaweed reach up and match up to those of the first floor window.
Each of the fish in the design has been formed in my kiln by melting crushed and small strips of glass. Once the glass has melted together into fish shapes I have
painted the details on and re-fired in the kiln to fix the paint in place. Once I made all the fish I incorporated them into a traditional, leaded stained glass windows, mixing modern techniques with traditional ones, which echoes the mixture of old and new architecture in the house.
These have been a labour of love and very time consuming; incorporating fused glass is technically more tricky than a standard leaded panel. But they have been well worth the effort, the clients are delighted with them and I think they have turned out really well. I especially like the way they reflect off the white bathroom tiles and bounce coloured fish reflections around the rooms.
Acid etching was the first surface technique I learned and it remains one of my favourite effects. The way that the texture – and therefore light transmission of the glass is altered is both subtle and effective and is very useful for adding close up detail without making the overall design too ‘busy’. To add a contemporary twist I have fired the photograph of Exmouth Beach huts onto glass in my kiln and this modern process gives a contrast to the traditional leading and etching.
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!
This large panel has just been installed to further obscure a large bathroom window; I make lots of windows for bathrooms and toilets and it is a great place to put a stained glass window as it adds privacy and interest to small rooms. At just over a metre square its a striking feature which is visible through the bathroom into the upstairs landing. The window has been fixed in front of the existing textured double glazed panel and really livens up the space. All the fish are made with iridescent water glass and have been hand painted and kiln fired. The panel is leaded using traditional techniques
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.
I am excited to be one of nine artists exhibiting at the beautiful Yarner wood reserve as part of this years Devon Open studios (venue 84). Refreshments and toilet facilities are available at the Woodland Centre on saturday 7th and Sunday 8th, Friday 13th, Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th, Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd September between 11.00 am and 6.00 pm daily. The trail is accessible during the event on other days but some installations will not be switched on and the Woodland Centre will be closed.The wood dates back many centuries and is recognized as an internationally important example of Western Oak woodland. It is a great place for lichens and mosses which thrive in the damp conditions and for birds and butterflies. The woods have had a long history of human involvement from the charcoal coppicing centuries ago to copper mining and Victorian planting, and more recently, for public access and for education and research.
The Heathercombe EDGE Sculpture Trail is an annual arts event sited in the beautiful Fairy Wood at Heathercombe, Manaton, Dartmoor. Running Saturday 7th – Sunday 29th September. Open daily 11am – 5.30pm except Mondays. Adults: £5 Child: £2.50 Concessions £3.
A maritime themed exhibition at Torre Abbey. Open daily (except Mondays and Tuesdays) from 10-5pm. The exhibition has been supported by Creative Torbay, Torbay Council and Devon Artist Network.