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!
Stained glass windows come in many shapes and sizes colours and forms. Each can be made for you to celebrate where you want to put a window. Sealed into a double glazed unit, stained glass can now be as warm and safe as any other window in your house. This is all before you have the pleasure of a beautiful piece of stained glass in your house. At this time of year, when it cold outside, stained glass can bring some warm glowing colours into your house or office. It is definitly time for a new window!
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.
I have had lots of things changed in my kitchen. A wall has come down which created a small space between two rooms. A small gap between two cupboards where the wall used to be. This was a sort of redundant space and at first I thought I might just hide it behind a cupboard. But then with the magic of stained glass and a rope of small led lights, I suddenly had a celebration of light and colour which really celebrated this small space. The pattern on the glass in free and abstract and this helps in a room where the many cupboards make a lot of straight lines and square boxes. It is still to be fitted into the gap but it still looks great.
Stained glass is often seen as quite a formal art form especially as there is the association with Churches and formal State buildings. But stained glass can also be witty and funny and make you smile. Recently there were the Hippo’s. Now when you think of a Hippo it might make you think of vast muddy pools in Africa with a large round animal with its mouth open. They have some resemblance to a pig in the short tail, short legs, round tubby form and a distinctive nose. In real life they are a dangerous wild animal that should not be messed with. However, as an image they are round and cuddly and swim very well. When I went to the studio and saw some painted Hippo’s all those images of dancing and swimming images of cartoons and picture books came back to me. These smiling Hippo’s are wonderful and make me laugh. They also made me think of creating my own coat of arms. Perhaps for me it would not be Hippo’s, but I could see a pair of hedgehog’s rampant with a witty motto for the family……something to do with glass, colour and light perhaps?
After weeks of rain and rain and guess what…..more rain at last we have summer and summer light. As we have early summer morning sun the light comes in through a stained glass window with bright jewel like colours. Sometimes we don’t have a large area of glass that can be changed so even a small porthole can still let the light in. Using very light glass and patterned glass can throw great light inside a building giving a little piece of the summer inside.
There are days when you want to walk into you house bringing colour and light and this hall window helps you do this. A glorious splash of bright colours spreading across the wooden floor. Who would not want this in their house especially for those dull days when the morning needs a bit of help.
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.
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.