Time seems to move so fast and I cannot believe that we are weeks away from the Grand Designs Live at the Excel centre and I am still catching up. Meeting people all day every day for ten days is quite amazing for someone who spends 50% of their working life alone in a studio. The time you are at the exhibition is fast and hectic and great fun, but it is also very different. While you are there the normal life of the studio is on hold, waiting, pausing and then you return and the river of studio life is flowing again but there are new interests and enquiries from the show as well. This weekend is a good time to review and catch up and sort out the next few weeks but also to reflect on a great show and some great new clients.
Well there is mayhem at the studio as we are off to Grand Designs at the Excel Centre for a great week of meeting old clients, meeting new client and making lots of friends. The preparation is always the worst bit. Are we ready, have we remembered everything. What notes did I make last year about the changes we should make. What must I remember to do that I always forget? The worst thing is that however prepared you are this last week always creeps up on you with a bang! You think you have lots of time left and suddenly we will be putting up the exhibition on Friday and opening on Saturday. I always like to take new work but that means it must be completed and ready days before as the last thing you need to worry about is unfinished works of art. Oh, and last but not least do I have nine days for cleaned ironed shirts! This may be mad but it is a totally different place, a lot warmer than the studio and not somewhere you are doing a messy practical job, and it is always the last thing I remember!
Back to work now, watch for updates on twitter, or best of all come to see us.
Sometimes you have to look for inspiration so a day out at Stonehenge seemed like a great idea. So stained glass was put on hold as the company took a visit to the historic site. Arriving early it was easy to get near the stones and walking in the larger area around the stones is free. It is much easier to understand the whole area if you move away from the stones and look at them from the many barrows that are on the surrounding fields. We had an amazingly warm Spring day and the dogs enjoyed the freedom of large areas of open land that is however well fenced near the road.
This is a beautiful piece of glass that has been created at the studio for a new project. The colours seem to float across the surface folding and melting into one another. In recent years most people working in glass have been dependent on manufacturers for the colours and textures of the glass they use. Now we can create the colours that we want and need. Looking at this piece of glass I particularly like that right hand side with the blue and magenta floating into one another and then dropping down into the heavy scarlet below.
Glass has such great qualities and can be used in many different ways. Used in windows it lets light in but with colour this light can be diffused. Colour can hide what is behind the glass. Now you can light the glass from behind creating a window where no window exits. This is why this piece of coloured glass is so exciting. Lit from behind, in a room with no windows, we can now create the illusion of a window and the room becomes more open and somehow airy. You know there is now window but somehow it better with the false window rather than no window at all.
There are some new tiles at the studio creeping out from the kiln and decorating various areas. We have been working to create a glass feature that can be used as a spash-back in the kitchen or bathroom. These are our small colour palettes that will be made into one full size panel to the size needed. At the moment we have been working with blues and greens and the tones that develop from this. But they have been great fun to play with, as we having been laying them out in different colour grades, then dark to light, those that match and the others. The reds are a big contrast with these colours and we need do more in the red and warm colour palette.
Every time someone passes the tiles they move, sometimes a small change but others seem to move them all round until there is a totally new order. They also make a very satisfying noise as they are moved around. There is that slight ‘clink’ as they knock into one another. It should almost be made into an animation as object move and change shape and seem to walk across the screen. There is something so tactile about them that they just ask to be touched, moved and played with. We just hope our clients have as much fun with them as we are having!
Well I seem to have lost a whole set of posts and I can’t work out why. All the new posts seemed to have disappeared. Is there some vast blog monster creeping around eating up stray lists of words? Were the words I had written so bad that they had to be erased? It is all very strange. Perhaps if I go away and the look back quickly they might have returned! Be prepared, there is something strange going on.
I have been looking at the rain and have been inspired by the way colour runs as you look at colour through the window. Colour seems to smudge and mix as the rain comes down between the glass and the colour. When designing glass windows, especially when using lead, the design has a strong defining line or edge. This can sometimes mean the subtle flow of colour does not happen. The use of a very thin line of lead or the shading or painting of glass can also have an effect. However some of the beauty of a glass window can be the way small pieces of glass catch the light. This image is like a watercolour with the delicate use colour and moving colour and sometimes this can be found within a sheet of coloured glass. Colour can added to flow through molten glass and this flow is then frozen in the cold glass to be used by the artist for its variation. I supposed you could think of it as pre-smudged glass.
Today I will return covered in the dust and decay of ages as I will be removing a church window. The window will be set in a stone surround and can have been in place for many, many years. Image that the window has been in place since before you were born! It is often true that church windows are not regularly cleaned so there can be dust and cobwebs inside as well as traffic dirt and other residue on the outside of the window. Removing a window is called a ‘hack out’. This suggests a violent attack on the window. It is more like the desperate attack of the stained glass artist attacking the surrounding stone working to remove the window without breaking the glass. It is a delicate job for such a term as ‘hack out’. As you get up close to the glass you can see how the window was made and it is here you make the connection with the original artist. The techniques of cutting, painting and creating the window using lead calms have changed little over the centuries. I will take the window back to the studio to clean and remake as the original artist would have done. Once repaired and restored the window will return and perhaps stay in place for another 100 or so years until the next artist returns to care for the window again.
There are many skills you need and some you develop but the skills for exhibitions are not high on my list. Working with stained glass suggests you have some good art and design skills. Moving this skill into a business means that you have then added a set of commercial skills to you art skills to develop you business. In a large business each of these areas have specialists departments to navigate the difficulties and skills needed. However, in a small business all workers need to have more than one specialism and the owner often needs to have many skills that they didn’t know we’re necessary. So now Stained Glass Studio have done a series of exhibitions and displays we have to be able to put up an exhibition in minutes. Our theories are; don’t rely on what they say they provide, make sure your display or stand can be put up by you alone, make sure you have power cables and extension leads and finally depend on yourself. Make it simple, and make sure you can cope is a small or large space as you don’t know what you will be given. After all this you will be expected, within seconds, to turn around and be happy and cheerful to meet the public. This is a role that learning your art skills and then your business skills did not prepare you for. Sometimes you must think about how comfortable it might be to be a specialist in a larger business. Alternatively, you are the modern explorer, inventor and creator, perhaps even a modern Isambard Kingdom Brunel!