Sunday, April 17, 2011

Stained Glass: Workmanship

The photo above depicts my studio, now back to functioning as a stained glass studio. Last Summer and the early Fall, it had been converted into a painting studio, but as my paintings got larger and my daughter moved out to her own new home, I now have a new space to paint.
So this space downstairs was left unoccupied as a stained glass studio for many months. This is actually the first piece I have built since the last commission I had completed and installed in February of 2010.
My adult students in stained glass at a local community college empathize with my withdrawal symptoms of not working in the medium. While I am stretching in other directions, I have greatly missed working in a medium that I consider to be my primary one.
I haven't counted the pieces of this window, but I am sure it is close to, if not more than a thousand. In the picture you can see the mound of scrap glass. The cut pieces are now in the stage of grinding each custom to its shape and to each other. The method of fabrication will be a combination of lead came and copper foil. Combining these techniques is what I have come to do normally with my work, although combining these is very non-traditional.
Lead came is an older technique that has been done since the Middle Ages; whereby 'copper foil' is a technique invented by Louis Comfort Tiffany at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The aesthetics of my line drawing for most of my work, organic in nature, lends itself to the copper foil method. Although I enjoy using lead to weight varied lines within the composition to enhance the contour, but favor copper foil lines for the fluidity within my glass assemblage.
During the hours and days I spent cutting these pieces out, I contemplated the notion of workmanship, which is something that was brought to my attention that needs to be justified from my last advisor, Tony Apesos. I have since given this issue much thought especially in terms of the never ending debate of art versus craft, which I am also revisiting in contemplation, thought, research and practice.
I think one of my research papers next semester will be devoted to the concept of 'workmanship'. I have been collecting sources along the way since last semester through the present time.
I must admit, I love the work ethic of manipulating these pieces of glass into a visual form. Although the leading of glass is not so politically correct any longer, with an emphasis on non-toxicity within the studio, I am closest to the epitome of the best in life, when I am in the 'zen' of soldering.
I have often told my students of stained glass, when I am old and gray and senile, just put me in a corner with a soldering iron, and I will be in a happy and content state.

I wrote my last research paper on Stained Glass as an Art. You can read it at:

You can see the cartoon and progress of this piece at:

The term 'cartoon', by the way, is the term for a line drawing for the stained glass assemblage or window. The drawing is light in the photograph, as borrowing cartoons is rampant in the field, which is a disdain I have, which also degrades the medium for the artist. The internet and the availability of designs online has made this practice grow out of control. So I am happy to document the cartoon for the purposes of this program, but not to the degree that it could be stolen and/or used by someone else.

My original charcoal drawing is also within the photo archive of the progress of this piece, at the link above, that was used to provide the information needed for the line drawing or 'cartoon'.

No comments:

Post a Comment