One o’ those years. 2 0 2 0 . The one we all thought was going to be crystal clear. (Or I did). And maybe it was. Maybe it is time for world wide change and maybe 2020 made us ready.
Strangely, I have had a good year. Ok some things have been strange. But strangely enough those strange things made me appreciate the not so strange. And I have been no stranger. There are barely any strange bits left in my locale so well have I combed it. But stranger still…I k n o w there are still lots of strange and new things out there for me too. Strange. Ha. And I like it. I am made ready.
So. One year on… and a further call to us artists of Cumbria. What have we been up to?
In May we submitted artwork for a book..’Through the locking glass” and it was a remarkable and uplifting publication. You can see my documenting of it in an earlier post… ‘Through the think in’ glass’.
Here now, one year on and I have worked on through faith, hope and charity and rolled with f a t e , h o l e and l i b e r t e (the french one!) And these three words, these three ideas, were the starting point for my one year on submissions.
So. In the stranglehold of 100 words per piece i take you through my workings in pictures as well as few words….
Faith Hope and Charity were what I kept coming back to on my early solo lockdown runs. Recurring themes within my field of stained glass. ‘Through the think in’ glass was my reaction to those early fears and restrictions and the new learning how to be.
But the year got stranger and government restrictions gave me further time to swim, run, pause, think and read, as well as continue to work, often behind closed doors.
Faith, Hope and Charity developed into Fate, Hole and Liberte… which reflects and rolls with me better. (Blame Murakami. A Japanese writer)
And so we arrive at one year on….
Faith has turned to Fate for my artwork. And to represent it I used those most superstitious of birds, the magpie. The monochrome arrangement of the seven birds fell together by chance (!) during a streamed lock-in Friday night drawing session. (When did Friday nights become this !?) The leadlines represent the junctions and decisions thrown at us in life. And the orbs of colour being just that. Orbs of colour within our life.
Hope becomes Hole. And hole represents a safe, reflective space. Not so much a hole as more of a nest. Home perhaps; or the space or locale in which we have all spent more time of late, in thought. Going with the roll within our confines.
And nest egg brings us to charity…..
And charity brings Liberte… One year on, this is where I’d like to be. Free, strong, happy and brave to seize the choices that normal life presents. Starlings and clear blue sky used here. I think this panel is the optimistic sun rise that I just watched on the first day of 2021. See those loose and bold leadlines, like the free-handed daub from a broad brush.
I am Debbie Copley of dc stained glass studio on Allhallows Lane in Kendal. Sat beneath that town hall clock, (which at present is stopped!). Kendal has been a good place to be.
I usually say no to restoration. But these, this pair, they had something.
Maybe it was the beautiful soft colour palette…. or the wonderful limed oak frames….but i think most likely it was that darn happy sun.
Just look at it. Who could resist. I wish I had made that. Such striking colours and confident simple painting. It just makes me smile.
So of course I said. ok i will have a go at this…. I mean it seemed like there were only one or two wee broken bits and you could kinda reimagine what might be in the big gaping hole in the centre of one of the panels…. Yeah, I can fix that said I.
So my work mate took it out of the frame with much cussing and huffing… this putty is harder than hard he grumbled and yet, it still smelt fresh of linseed. Obviously very old quality stuff, (he was enjoying himself really).
Once out, the task ahead of me became realised. The border lead was some strange ‘U’ section zinc stuff that would not be retainable as to desolder would result in it becoming mangled beyond reuse…. O K i will just strip down the damaged areas thought I. Do a bit of patching.
Then it became my turn to have a meltdown and a grumble… the task in front of me just seemed huge. And filthy. And broken. And difficult. And… oh, what have I started!!!
At the end of the first day I had taken two wax crayon rubbings and stripped down 2/3 of the panel. I felt overwhelmed by it and telegraphed my concerns to the owner.
I think I probably tossed and turned and huffed and puffed throughout that following night, but… at the bench the next day. I was on it. I can do this, I said to myself. (Sleep… or not much of it… is an amazing thing!)
Very methodically I began to clean up the un broken pieces… mark up and preserve what needed recutting. And slowly built up a working drawing.
A p l a n . A place to work from.
In the end i stripped down the whole panel apart from the wee smiley sun. It deserved to be left in tact and the rest deserved to be put back good and strong. By the end of this second long long day I was happy. Some glass had been recut and colour matched to a working working plan and the remainder could be managed tomorrow….
What a great feeling. I had felt broken…. but, I was not yet sunk.
Oh yes, I haven’t told you… The other half of the matching pair, with the gallant galleon and the latin motto….
FLVCTVAT NEC MERGITVR….
I typed it into google…. it means… broken but not beaten. And literally translates as ‘wave tossed but not sunken’…..It is the motto of the city of Paris. It literally means… ‘she is tossed by the waves, but she will never sink’.
Oh my. How could I not succeed to rebuild this panel with such resounding words in front of me.
And here, for the first time in my life it seems, we are really caught up in a world wide melt down. Crikey, I had to save this panel. Flipping heck, I want to live the rest of my life chanting this darn motto.
(Sorry about the am’ drams’… but I was due a holiday!).. Anyway, i got all the glass colour matched, preserved and cut… and then had the wonderful task of re-imagining the missing pieces with paint. There were clues. But enough blank space to make me scratch my head and keep me on my toes.
Someone said, that must be very satisfying.
And I have rethunk on the word satisfying. I think it thought i did not want ‘satisfying’…
But it was. And I am. More than.
This has been a very satisfying (!) job. I have loved it. (I did not think it. and it wasn’t always so… ha. my melt down!)(one day at a time, eh)
BVT…. the satisfaction of putting this back together, reinstating it in its lovely oak frame…and standing it alongside its pair (my work mate says they are french.. the handles are definitely french he said)…. I wonder what kind of journey these windows have been on…?
I wonder…. Now here they are. Putty drying. In my workshop window (I think this putty is going to take a while to harden!)
Two years I have been working out of my little studio in Kendal, named dc stained glass studio. And a busy bee i have been. Wonderful commissions have gently come to my door and i have enjoyed scratching my head and thinking… how am i going to do this one then?
Twenty twenty i thought was going to be a clear path forging ahead. But I began my new year feeling slightly overwhelmed by my workload and dearly wishing for some sabbatical time. Ha. Careful what you wish for eh….
Covid 19 raised its head and we entered lock down. At first, when it all became black and white on that night of the 23rd, I guess I was a little scared. But prepared… Ample larder and the motivation to do tasks around the house kept me ‘locked in’. I ventured out eventually, to find the world a different place. Near deserted streets with folks crossing over. Shops with chevrons and cordons and screens. I quickly learned the rules of this new planet and my life adjusted to suit them.
A simple routine of existence evolved. Revolving around the sun and spinning out time as far as I could stretch it. I read. I drew. I cooked. I ran. I yoga’d… I became expert at filling the hours in my day. Reading in my sunspot became my luxury, with its view of big sky, rooftops and chimneys, welcome swifts and the Town Hall clock. And as I read more I drew more and made lots of notes. Christopher Whall in his, ‘Stained Glass Work’ book, advised… ‘when you draw…always think in glass’. And that is what I did. Knuckling down to commissions and the like on my drawing board at home.
I have made a gentle return to my stained glass studio most days recently and it feels good to be cutting glass again. (Although I find i quite like working with the door shut and the sign reading ‘closed’!)
So, nine weeks done, I feel happy and relaxed. I feel that this golden time has been something of a gift. I do wonder what will become my new normal going forwards… Change is good, I think. And good will come from change. And a welcome grant from the local council has made my future look promising too!
Here are some of the drawings i have been working on.. My latest is for an open call to artists to submit work influenced by the events of covid19 titled ‘Dreaming through the looking glass – What Cumbrian artists did during lockdown’. Artists selected will be published in a Lake District publication… (I have my fingers crossed).
Doodles from my notebook have influenced my panel which I have named, ‘Though the think in’ glass’. The simple colour palette illustrates the black and white nature of the guidelines and rules to which we had to adhere. But I could not resist adding some yellow… this was golden time to me after all, even though it came with a warning!
Yep, spiralling sun… spinning time…social distancing and my outlook on the Town hall (ding dong) is what this panel is all about. Tomorrow, I need to add more paint.. add a layer of silver stain to introduce even more yellow and then, put it all together!
Through the think in glass…..
And did I say ‘watch this space;?… No!! Well I should have…
Here is how the panel is developing.
The first firing left the town hall is shaded relief… Then I decided how I might apply some finer line detail…
I did two line drawings of the detail on the town hall… one confined with the shaded parameters and one free hand… I located the clock face and drew from there..
I decided to go with the freehand drawing as my tracing template as I liked the parallax error created. It sort of fit with the skewed vision we have of things at the moment… so here we go…..This is now in the kiln (Fiday), Tomorrow I will add silver stain (more yellow!)…
In January I was searching for something like this … haha i mean….a few week sabbatical of navel gazing and self improvement.
Ha. Careful what you wish for eh.
Thankfully Boris gave us clues as to how this might pan out and I am glad that my panic buying amounted to me grabbing mostly (!) useful stuff. (I am at that sensible age!!)
I have even been industrious at work and everything essential (what a word) has gotten out there. And all the non essential is making my workshop window look very lovely in its closed down state.
Last night I popped down. Collected all my blank drawings. Flipped the sign to closed and turned off the lights. All of them. (There are usually some on all the time)(I know. Shocking!!)
My workshop window looked lovely but i will turn my back on it for some time.
So yes. A period of looking at myself. And spending time with just myself. (Yikes!!!)(Ha. But hallelujah for that wifi lifeline eh) (I m a g i n e if we had to do without that. Wow. A thoughtful silence here)
So. My larder is healthy. My body seems so too at this present moment. My home is very lovely and I look ahead to making it even lovelier (!!!!). Thanks. To Ecover (cleaning product!). And the scrap store cheap farr.. and (ssssh) paint. (Darn. Did I just tell everyone)
Yep. I’ll get through this. I need not move from my homestead for any reason at all (not precedented anyway) for 7 days I reckon….
In those 7 days I will either have had it (the virus) or I will not. I reckon. And then I will decide what I do next. How to measure my movements.
I gonna go clean and tidy and sit in the sun in my back yard when the sun is on it.
And I may, get round to working on filling these blanks too….
But here, before I go…
This lovely panel for a lovely lady. A surprise gift from her mum to celebrate a 40th birthday…
Molly the labrador in her favourite places… the woods and the seaside.
But also… seagulls(3) and beautiful colours and details inspired by her three wee girls.
This project started out as a north cumbrian town scape with a mountain backdrop.. it grew and grew and strawberry thieving blackbirds were introduced!
Yikes. This is quite a size… said I, when I eventually drew out the shape on my board.
(Almost 1 metre square. Almost!)
And well, I do like to scratch my head over composition and design and… layout and.. colour. This one definitely evolved as I built…
Here my drawings… (I really enjoyed this once I got stuck into it)
Here how my glass cutting and painting went… see how the watery wintry low sun washes through the vivid reds and greens…
(and those darn strawberries. You see, at first I cut and painted them as bunches of strawberries. But when I offered them up the light for appraisal I realised i did not like them at all… Back to the cutting board. Individual strawberries. Oh, yes. Much better now…. phew.)
And then.. colours for the middle ground. I wanted the birds to ‘sing out’.. as if perched in your window box and you were watching them and looking at the town beyond… the gentle pastel colours of the Cockermouth town were switched about until I was happy.. especially happy with the blue cottage at the end of the row which anchored the piece and dragged your eye to the blue clock face on the piercing church steeple.
The high mountain landscape in the far background executed in soft grey greens.
My, what a mammoth task. And all done in the lead up to Christmas. (I think really this project kept me sane amongst the rush of robins and unicorns (!) and angels and dogs (!) and… other treasured gems!)
The leadwork and grouting was completed in the run up to Christmas Eve. So satisfying and grounding and concentrated and rigorous…. it had to be done!!! It had to be completed and sitting, curing and polished over the Christmas break in order for it to be sent for encapsulation (double glazing technique) and fitted on February the 14th (aww. and they loved it)
Wow. i did it. One of my largest panels to date… (although I still remember the foxgloves from a couple of Christmasses ago too)..
Yep. Really pleased with this one. And once again, wonderful to work with a lovely couple of customers. (Thank you guys)