(The finished windows at the end of day two).
This was the week of my first stained glass lesson at Ardington School of crafts. Ardington is lovely & going back to the old school house really felt like going home. You’ll remember that before I went I did some research into the type of window I wanted to create. I settled on an owl design and then narrowed that down to a barn owl type against a black/blue sky. I thought I was reasonably prepared, that was until our lovely tutor Sarah Glover
started bringing pieces of glass out of her van. We had to choose colours for our creations (there were 4 of us in the class, myself, Janet who was there as a present from her husband David (awww) and was building a panel for a door in their house, David who was undertaking an artistic mixed colour panel and Ginny who had been taught by Sarah before and was trying to finish her latest design). While everyone else was making informed colour decisions, putting suitable colours next to one another I was running around like a kid in a sweet shop holding the different panes up to the light and being dazzled by the sheer variety of colours and glass textures and finishes. Before the course I had my heart set on a brown for my owl but the only brown Sarah had contained green streaks as well and was actually snapped up by Ginny (her design is below & I think you’ll agree it goes perfectly!)
Without a brown in sight Sarah remembered she had an orange sheet of glass in her van. She brought it in and it was perfect, so using that as a base I picked out some peach for the face, yellow and red to mix in with the wings and lots of different blues for the sky. Choosing the colours was really good fun but then we had to cut all the pieces to size. Sarah had some really easy to use glass cutters (with oil in the blades to help you cut more smoothly) so after a couple of practice shapes on some plain glass I moved onto the first of my colours, the light blue for the background (that was a nice one to start on the dark blue you can see was a nightmare to cut as it was really thick and you couldn’t see through it so I had to make templates to cut around). All the pieces got a number to correlate to where they went on the design and soon I had this.
The others in the class were working on very different projects. David was working on a piece inspired by artist John Piper (lots of blocks of colour)
Once all the pieces were cut out we got the chance to take any of the sharp edges off using one of the machines that Sarah bought (here is David hard at work with it)
and then it was time for the leading. The lead had been hung up in Sarah’s van so it was important that we stretched it. This bit was quite like tug of war & lots of fun. Here are Janet & David stretching their lead with Sarah.
He he. Next it was time to insert the lead between the pieces of glass (working from the bottom where the first two pieces of outside lead had already been placed on the board) making sure the glass was properly between the lead and keeping the lead and glass at tension (with spare bits of lead, glass and nails) till the a joining pieces were put in.
Once all the glass and lead (including the final two bits of exterior lead) had been put on, my owl looked something like this.
Then it was time to solder the bits of lead to each other, making sure to do all the joints on both sides (before doing this we had to make sure that all the joints were as clean as could be by rubbing down with wire wool and apply a wax type substance to make the solder flow into the gaps easier) .After that it was covering the piece in cement (no pics of this it was v.messy, but in a good way), which I worked into the gaps between the glass and the lead, then applying a white powder to start drying the cement out. Then the final touch was blacking the lead and then I had my finished piece. I’m really happy with it & the whole process of making it was very enjoyable indeed. As we bought our glass I have kept my offcuts and hope to be on another course and using them in another design before too long. As Sarah warned it seems stained glass is very addictive!