Well, every project has its challenges…
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)
And. Here it is in place..
Just look at it. (ha. but don’t eat!) C U T .
This. The beautiful multi-spot sheet of handmade glass that would form my coil of cyclists whirring through the Yorkshire countryside.
This sheet of glass pinned the whole concept together. (Aint it good when that happens).
Here. I will let my images say a thousand words. You will get the picture. But do not miss that this one was a real challenge…. of composition.. construction and completion. Loved it.
(But. Lots of learning on this one… see how I joined this long slender panel… check out the leadwork!)
Cavort swallows and hares.
Dancing amongst grasses and
Swirling through seedheads.
Between the sun and the moon
Tossing a riot of colour.
This one made me smile. Beautiful subjects… (and not least because I was to ensure the hare was at no point to resemble the angel of death of Watership Down horror)(yikes… yep.. him and General Umvert… twas the stuff of childhood nightmares!)
Oh what fun I had designing this… from the scribbliest lovely wee doodle.. through hares gazing at moon to hares frolicking under moon to streaking hare with defo no red eye!
And then some beautiful palette of colours and textures and i was a happy bunny with my glass cutter. Check out the wee red flashes.. the glance of pink… the rustle of texture… and of course some sparkle!
And then. Yep. Down to painting. I laid down the shadow of Ingleborough first and fired all these pieces. I often try to do everything in one firing but I knew the top layers of seedheads would just cause me headaches if Ingleborough was not fixed. Sepia brown for the hare and black/brown for the seedheads. Lots of careful layering, scraping, smudging and lining.
Rhythmic leadwork was just a joy then straight on with the grout and….. polish.
Oh and these guys let me keep this one in my window through Christmas. Thanking You!
…And so now door and panel are in place.
And this door and window composition work well on many different levels…
Solid beautiful oak door. Simple gentle floating panel. Shiny polished leadwork complimented by burnished iron mongery!
When viewed from outside you appreciate the lovely texture of the paintwork… the speckles and streaks… the ridges and blobs. You want to reach out and stroke the feathers of the swifts and rustle the foliage at the base…
From inside, the window glows as panels always do… but what I hadn’t anticipated (ha. and this is where i should say I that i had really thought all this through!) is how well the subjects dance against the outside world. The pale blues of the sky and the wispy vapour trails work well against the white painted boards of the porch roof…
The shrubs and trees beyond distort and shimmer and sparkle in the reamy pale glassy greens and creams. It is hard to tell where my handpainted foliage ends and the outdoor foliage begins.
Awwww, it is always so rewarding to see your panel sitting so well where it belongs. (I really do like my job).
And the many colours they come in!
Remember that lovely commission I had at Brantwood. Well, I have just completed another composition, similar, but different.
It was so lovely to revisit this idea…. Similar but different. And this one is just up the road from my workshop on Beast Banks.
And then i had even more fun….!
Surely (I said to myself) blackbirds don’t just have to be black. (Mine are very rarely black!)
So I set myself the challenge (purely self indulgent) in taking my blackbird template to make three different panel.
The same but different…
I will be exhibiting these at Witherslack Art Exhibition together with some other bird sculptures.
And Ouli. Two.
Well. Never had a commission quite like this before.
My initial response was to say no, oh no, i don’t do folk. But when Laurie sent me her photos and i saw the wonderful glamour of Goldie and the gentleness of Ouli. Well, I said I would give it some thought.
This piece is to sit in a meditation corner. They are special individuals. And I have done my best to do them justice.
I am really happy. Sometimes when I finish a piece I may think, ach, I’d have done (that) a little differently. But this time. Well i think I gave it the best I got.
And how did i do it….
Laurie said red lippy and glasses… and big ears… and I’ll have nailed it. (Glad I didn’t get confused!)
So, thanks to Jo Vincent down at The Factory for her feedback and loan of her shot blast cabinet. I made Goldie using flashed glass and a hand cut stencil resist for her lippy smile and gorgeous red frock (I had two shots. It is a fine line indeed between red blush being there… and then gone!) And hand painted above. On a rainbow of amber golden tones.
Yep. Shot blasting is all about courage but knowing when to stop. And then of course you have to keep it clean through all the other messy processes. (Thanks to Jo for the tip of firing it to smooth the surface and make it bit more resistant to smears)
Ouli was hand painted too with the images united across sweeps of vintage muranese glass. All put together using traditional leadwork techniques.
And now it fly overseas…. Thank you Laurie.
Lapwings…. eggs…. feathers… landscape.
Were the elements that the customer came to me with….
I have taken my time (i usually do!) to get from doodle to cutting board.
I like the design.. the ‘thinky’ part of the process. The brain storm. The puzzle and the frown. And the fizz when you know you are on to something…
This moved from grids to exploding lines that hatch the landscape and pin it all together.
These. At the centre.
Eggs. Three firings. (A lot of work goes into a simple nest of eggs).
And the eggs; they’re the star of the show but they must not steal the show.
So interesting details and lines to lead the eye; beautiful colours careful paint.
Hatched… dotted.. leaded.. and displayed.
Well I know I know this works…
So when i got asked to do a panel to work with existing leaded lights… and i saw the colours… and i saw the classic shapes. I thought I could make it work again.
I presented my ideas to the customer and apparently a slow smile spread across Hannah’s face as it dawned on her what she was looking at. (Jamie her Dad had commissioned me to design the panel as a surprise for his daughter. I sent Hannah a drawing for Christmas. And now she has the real thing in her home).
Red and yellow goldfinches I presented. On spiky spiky teasels. And oh how these resonated with Hannah. She grew up in the cotton towns north of Manchester. Where teasels and goldfinches danced in abundance.
Here i show how this one came together….
Lovely old muranese glass and some gorgeous reamy clear (that came from somewhere!)(wish I knew where. I’d like some more) that complimented the reds and yellows of hand rolled tatra glass.
Painted in shades of sepia and tracing black.
And i loved them goldfinch so much i made a whole charming lot…
(No pretense this time…)
And finally. THIS….
I first drew bitterns years ago.
I mosaicked bitterns.
I made a sculpture that boomed.
I read Bill Baileys book… discovered collective noun for bitterns is ‘a pretense of bitterns’
I came up with a design for a present tense of bitterns to the tune of Radiohead…(see an earlier post for an exhibition at Lancaster Uni’)(sadly this design never came to fruition)
But maybe i was just waiting for this moment…
Or maybe I am not even finished yet. With bitterns.
Here. My journey. So far…