Saturday, 8 June 2019

Functional Fused Glass!

Land Sea Sky
 This recent commission offered a unique opportunity to really exploit the properties of the medium of kiln-fired glass.

 The location is a small home in Huntsville.  Openings had been cut in interior walls to allow natural light to move through the home.  These “interior windows” open into the main living space from a bedroom and a bathroom, so the owners understandably wanted a solution that would provide privacy, look good from both sides, and still let the light flow.
Fused glass has a slightly “pebbled” surface on one side from being fired on a clay shelf in the kiln.  This subtle texture obscures the transparency of the glass, so for bathrooms especially, fused glass is an ideal window treatment.
The panels are 37 and 43 inches tall, and just 10 inches wide.  These are challenging proportions to design for. We decided on a beach theme for one piece, and Birches for the second.
For the beach theme I worked impressionistically, incorporated vitreous paint and chunks of glass for texture suggestive of cresting waves, watery depths, and an ambiguous horizon line blending into sky.

Spring Birches
I’ve done birch themed fused glass on many occasions, and each one has its own character.  I particularly like the cheerful Spring colours, and the texture in the birch bark, achieved with vitreous paint and frit.

Spring Birches detail

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Highlight of my Career

All Saints', Huntsville Ontario

The past year has been a combination of returning to my roots and venturing into new territory.
My relationship with glass began as a hobby in the 1970’s, but quickly became a passion that has lasted almost 40 years.  I built over 100 stained glass windows for clients, primarily in Toronto, but after I started fusing glass, my stained glass projects became fewer.  Then in Autumn 2017, I was given the opportunity to design and build 2 memorial windows for a new addition to All Saints’ Anglican Church, Huntsville.

19th century Eucharist window
I regarded my first ecclesiastic commission to be both an honour and a great responsibility.  My job was to create windows for Huntsville’s oldest church, a beautiful stone building in the heart of town and an important part of Huntsville’s cultural heritage.  
I would be making a 21st century contribution to a church that was built in the 19th century and contained windows from the 19th and 20th centuries.  I saw the task as multifaceted: the windows should be rooted in scripture, integrate Christian symbolism, sit in harmony with 2 existing windows in the same space, honour the families sponsoring the windows, and carry a message of, and for, our time.  Every element of the designs must be there for a reason.  All this in addition to practical considerations of light and orientation, which are always present when designing glass.

It was a complex creative and spiritual challenge that lasted several months.  Once designed, I took my time with the physical process of building the windows.  I enjoyed the focused process of decision making, cutting, leading, soldering and finishing the windows, using those centuries-old processes learned decades earlier.  It felt like this was what I had been preparing for four decades.
As glass is cut, it is "waxed up" on a glass easel to see the colours in natural light.

Strips of channeled lead are cut and fitted to hold glass
The rainbows were made from fused glass

Lead joints are soldered and putty forced into the gaps
On All Saints’ Day, Sunday November 4, 2018, the windows were finally blessed and dedicated in a special ceremony.  I am humbled by the appreciation of the sponsoring families, rector, congregation, and of my family and friends.  I am especially grateful for having experienced God’s grace, working through me.
Me, Ven. Dawn Henderson, Peggy Hern and Brian Hern

Let Your Light Shine, in memory of the Hern family  
He is the Vine, in memory of the Nickalls family