This morning I went into my bathroom and was inspired again by the light coming through the window. We have a stained glass window in the bathroom, that’s an advantage of working in glass, and the sun was catching the colours and making them shine. It does cheer you up in the morning, all those colours and shape and light flowing into the room. So often a bathroom window in obscured glass, well we don’t want to flash at the neighbour, but the introduction of colour is so great. So I wandered in and out this morning and felt better as I washed that colour was flowing into my life and making my day have a better start.
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.
We all use colour all the time but do we know what we are talking about? Two people can look at the same colour and see it in totally different ways. Red is just red except when it is crimson. Red can be a brick red, which is almost orange, to a dark red that has blue shades. And we all know the madness that is white or white with a hit of ……… We prefix colour to try and identify what we mean, as in lemon yellow, pale yellow, buttercup yellow. Blue is even more extreme as in indigo blue, royal blue, navy blue and midnight blue. This is all before we start to mix the colours together. For me lilac, violet and purple are quite blue colours while maroon is much more red moving towards the pink colours. All this is fine until someone says they like red and you choose a brick red and they want a dark almost maroon red. Then the words we use become very important. This is also before you lay one colour against another and change how the colour looks. Colour is in the eye of the beholder and we all see colour differently, but colour is also something that can bring joy and happiness to the viewer, changing how we feel and think.
How can you describe how light coming through a stained glass window is changed, coloured and moved. We use all those phrases of, ‘out of darkness into light’, ‘the light of our life’, ‘bringing light into our lives’. Each of these phrases suggests that light is good, positive, special and even magical. We also use the term ‘light’ in a spiritual or revelatory way. In the Christian church turning to the light is see as turning to God as this is from where all light emanates. The way of the light is linked with the way of truth as in the true religion. However, we also talk about someone, ‘seeing the light’ when they finally can see the truth. They can finally see what others have seen for weeks, months or years. So we see light as good but we also describe light as soft or harsh. Soft is the light of the candle, a moving dancing light that is not strong. Harsh light is the fluorescent tube that reveals us all in our bare angles, wrinkles and creases. Sometimes the early morning light can be clear and sharp and harsh, especially in the winter when the angle of the rising sun is low. So what happens to light when it comes through a stained glass window. We use the colour and texture of the glass to create different patterns and forms of light. I wanted my window in the front door to accentuate the feeling of sun coming through the window. The sun comes in the front windows in the morning and I wanted the hall to continue to glow with warm light. I therefore chose colours that would help with glowing yellow and red colours. We also have a line of small cut glass shapes that send small shafts of light into the hall. At night the light comes from within the house and shines out from the door. Again having warm colours in the door makes the house look warm and welcoming. This house and it’s occupants welcome you into its warm comfortable interior. Stained Glass Studio.
When I think of stained glass I think of the colour that it brings into my house. In the morning my hall is full of colour as the light comes through the stained glass panel in the front door. Sometimes it is like jewels of light and at other times there are long rays of colour reaching out into other parts of the house. From the outside you can bring warmth to your house as you walk up to the door. In the winter with a light in the hall the house glows with warmth. It is such a subtle thing the way colour affects us. The glass does not have to be bright and dramatic too bring that warm, confident and expensive feeling to a house. It can also be a great way to bring a single colour into an area. A blue or green glass can be great in a wet room as a wall divide or an external window. Red could be great for a small intimate internal room suggesting warmth heat and comfort. Now make your own decisions when you look at the glass.
When is a window not a window, when there is no opening behind the panel of glass. Sometimes buildings do not have the window opening that you would expect even though visually your eye expects there to be one. This was true of a church in Harrow. As you look towards the altar, the focal point of the space, the Christian tradition normally has a large East Window. Unfortunately for years this church had kept a long textile hanging behind the altar as there was no window. Matthew Lloyd-Winder decided that with the clever use of painted glass, not using lead lines and the expert advice of a lighting engineer, the illusion of a large East Window could be created. Instead of fitting into a window this would be a free-standing panel, supported by a frame fixed to the roof beams. This allowed the ‘window’ or stained glass panel, to go from floor to ceiling, dominating the space. Each individual pane of glass was then painted and treated, working in a style that would use as much light as possible.
Although this was a large piece of work the same techniques could be used in a smaller space or home. Not every panel of glass needs a window opening behind it. Lighting can be placed behind the glass to bring that glorious illumination of colour through the glass. It is that quality of light that is so special.
Even a window opening sometimes has to obey different rules. Instead of letting you see through the window, stained glass can create a barrier keeping the inside private. Allowing you the freedom of internal coloured light coming through the window but ensuring that you cannot be viewed from outside.
A stained glass window can also be used to pretend there is a view whereas there might be a brick wall only feet away. A window with a good use of exterior lighting can create the illusion of a window looking out onto a view when there is no view available.
Therefore you don’t need a window or a window onto the world to create light and colour into an internal space.
It is all done by magical stained glass.