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.
I was watching a documentary about the recent meteor in Russia and after the film of the streaking fireball of light, came the noise and the shattering of glass. This mixed in my mind with a discussion about craft being about ‘handmade’ and not ‘digital’. So how was this all linked? Well at Stained Glass Studio we seal glass in a feature unit, a style of double glazed unit. This seals the stained glass within strengthened glass that can be placed in the front door for added security. Like a car windscreen, this glass breaks but does not shatter into the face of the car driver. In Russia many had been drawn to the window to look at the amazing light shooting through the sky. Thus when the noise and the explosion came, many were standing by the window receiving shatter injuries on their faces. Now the glass used in windscreens looks like glass and acts like glass but it has been treated to make it act differently when hit. Stained glass is a very old craft and we are used to seeing it as church windows of nearly 1000 years ago. We still cut and break glass as they did then. Leaded glass is still joined together as the medieval craft makers put it together. But today we can also use modern technology to protect the glass. We can use modern technology in the creation of new colours and techniques used on the glass. Creative techniques have been developed to extend what we do with glass. Shapes that were impossible to cut in glass can now be done with water-jet techniques. My conclusion is that the craftsman, the artist, adds creativity to the craft and will play and search and develop whatever techniques they can to create exactly what they are seeking to create. For me this is what every craftsman from every age will do. Mixing the craft with technology to create the art.
As Christmas gets nearer and nearer so all projects at the studio become more urgent but it is also a time when sometimes presents are made. This year the studio are selling some of those things that are made in the studio as presents for family and friends. Bowls, lamps and small windows suddenly appear and time is spent experimenting with new ideas and techniques. We hope you like what we make so take some time and look around.
As we move from rain to more rain and even more rain, I start to think of ways to make the world a bit brighter. I have decided that yellow, orange and gentle reds are the colour of the moment to try and pretend that the world is slightly warmer and brighter than it really is. This is the magic of glass. It is such a simple idea. Plain glass lets the light in and brings the light into our homes and workspaces but a little bit of colour can add a warmth and glow to that light. This can lift our mood, make us more positive and make us nicer to be around. Is it all that simple? Yes it can be. We all now know that we can recover quicker in hospital if we can see out a window and can see trees, fields and animals. So as you walk across the room and you pass through a warm glow of light coming in a stained glass window it can lighten our mood and lift our spirits. It does not need to be a great deal of colour but a small additional pool of light can make so much difference to us all.
One of the great things about stained glass windows is that if your delightful child, dog, beloved relative; have suddenly taken leave of their senses and played an excited game of total pandemonium, causing at least two small panes of stained glass to break, we can mend this. As long as the rest of the window is intact, and the leadwork is still strong, small pieces of stained glass can be removed and replaced. Like a fine piece of needlework, the lead can be opened and then the glass can be replaced. This does not work so well when the football has pounded into the door and the whole window has been pushed out like a small bubble. But even this can be repaired. Taking the whole window out the lead can be taken away and replaced with modern lead, making it as good as new. http://www.stainedglassstudio.co.uk/
Even though I like new modern stained glass it is always great to think that you can restore and reinvigorate stained glass already in a door or window or something you have found thrown out or discarded. You have a much loved window that is now bending with age and this is something that can be restored to former glory. All the lead can be removed, the glass cleaned and then the window is remade to show how it would have looked when first installed. This is such a great recycling system as well. The old lead will be melted down to be used again and you are reusing your glass. Equally is you find some old glass somewhere this can be cut, shaped, added to and installed in you house to live again. Some houses had doors and surrounding panels in stained glass. Over time parts get broken and removed but this could all be recreated in its original form, showing the house as it once looked. You can also give a more modern house a traditional appeal by adding stained glass in a traditional format of your choice. There are also ways of sealing your new window into a double glazed unit, adding extra security to the door and supporting the window in the future.
Restoration can also be done on a greater scale in Churches or Public Buildings to continue the life of a Historic stained glass window. As in your front door, the window can be taken apart, repaired and restored to its former glory, it is just a larger project. Making and restoring windows is a traditional handmade task and this means that we can still work and repair in the same way that artists have for centuries. This makes each window, whatever size, shape or style, very personal to the maker and the owner of the window and can extend the life of the window for many years yet. Stained Glass Studio.