March 27, 2005

Judith Schaechter with context

There are images of new work by Judith Schaechter up at Parables in Glass. For me, the key issue with Judith Schaechter as a stained glass artist is context. Compared to most stained glass design today, her work is weird or shocking. But I contend that her work is only shocking in the context of it being stained glass. If it is seen in what is the more proper context of late 20th century graphic imagery, especially that which is categorized as 'underground comics' or 'lowbrow art' or 'outsider art', her work fits right in.

Look at the work of artists such as Robert Williams or Joe Coleman. The painting by Coleman, I am Joe's Fear of Disease, is especially striking, if pretty disturbing.

The more commercially accessible versions might be Gary Panter or Charles Burns.

Many stained glass artist don't know what to make of Scheachter's work. It seems so strange and wierd. I've never seen it as weird at all. Just reflective of a part of the culture that most stained glass artists are not involved with.

One creepy thing for me seeing her recent work is to see the dream balloon pieces. Not because the images are creepy - quite the opposite, they are some of her least brutal, almost sweet, images. The creepiness comes from the fact that I was designing 'dream balloon' panels at about the same time (starting in 2002, I believe), none of which I've yet made into panels yet. I suppose I got the idea from some of the early work of Art Spiegelman, who often played with the convention of word and thought balloons.

Posted by Tom at 12:12 PM

March 26, 2005

The Comics Thing, pt 1

Good online press for the comics world.
There is a multiple article issue on Art Spiegelman in Indy Magazine Winter 2005.
Also, there is a week long series on Robert Crumb at the Guardian website.
In both, there are lots of pictures and lots of background text. The comics art of the past 30-40 years has not had much of an impact on stained glass, with the primary exception of Judith Schaechter.... more on that tomorrow...

Posted by Tom at 06:14 PM

March 22, 2005


A geek milestone - I've been blogrolled. That is, I found my site as a link on another blogger's "blog list". The blog in question is called Stained Beauty, and it's only been going for a few months. The site is mostly about stained glass, by a student in the South of England. Check it out. I guess I'll have to start thinking about doing my own "blog roll".

Posted by Tom at 09:47 AM

March 21, 2005

St Francis Xavier (College) Church

Quick look today inside St. Francis Xavier (College) Church, at St. Louis University.
All the windows are by the Emil Frei studio, out of St. Louis, done in the 1930s. The windows are a straightforward gothic revival (american version) style, with mostly standard figural scenes. The tone of them almost suggests grisaille, for there is a good amount of white. The main exception being the large piece behind the altar, which is in bright vivid primary colors, almost coming off as abstraction from a distance. That one was impossible for me to photograph.
The most interesting windows were tucked in out of sight in the transcepts. One is this tree window which has in interesting mix of painted grisaille (the vines and leaves) and standard mosaic style (tree trunk and grapes). This is in the South transept, facing the altar.

This detail shows the grisaille vines and leaves better.

This is in the North transept, facing the altar.
Offhand, I like this one the best in the whole church.

Looked at more closely this looks to be all text, albeit with a lot of repetition. I like this idea. Not sure what that main character set in the quarries says.

I can't help but think - what if this featured all readable text - wouldn't it increase the interest of the window as a whole? Is it simply a matter of making it in English rather than Latin? But I'm not sure I'm even catching what the Latin words are most of the time. Funny how this is an issue that this artist shares with graffiti artists. Artistic style or readable content?

Posted by Tom at 04:32 PM

March 18, 2005

Islamic Stained Glass Illuminations

Came across this site a few weeks ago, again out of the UK - Islamic Stained Glass Illuminations by Alan Baker. I've long thought that Islamic design would be well translated into stained glass. This shows that it's true. I would like to see the pieces themselves as I've seen some things like this that come off better in the photograph than in the panel itself.
Still, I like the effort.
One note on the website - lose the animated gifs!!! It's a really, really bad web design faux pas.

Posted by Tom at 06:56 PM

March 16, 2005

Fran Wesselman

Sometimes I just stumble on something a bit different.
Anyway, I like these panels - Fran Wesselman, out of England.

Posted by Tom at 03:34 PM

March 11, 2005

Christ Church Episcopal, Downtown St. Louis

Kind of choppy selection of windows here. There are some early Connick windows in a chapel (too far away to photograph), 2 small average-at-best Tiffany windows, and several (painted that are covered over by an attached building. The most interesting were two windows in a French Gothic style. Unsure about the studio.

The "Jesus enters Jerusalem" window in full -

A detail of the lower section -
I have no idea who this figure is supposed to be.

and a close up of the small figure -

There are also a few windows in this style. Large pieces of glass, like the trim on the sash - all one long piece.
I like the face on this one, it could almost be a William Blake head.

Posted by Tom at 08:10 PM

March 10, 2005

Who says stained glass is boring...

While strolling through the CVMA picture archive - came upon some nice monsters.

Posted by Tom at 02:21 PM

March 04, 2005

Chihuly at Shaare Emeth

The temple we attend in St. Louis has these stained glass windows in the main chapel area. Contemporary style - very minimalist. I had seen some similar ones in photographs particularly in the early 90's, but I could not recognize the artist. These turn out to be earlier (late70's/early80's) and by none other than Dale Chihuly. Not at all like his more recent wild-style, anemone-like constructions being made for practically every museum on the continental US.

There is mention of the Shaare Emeth Commission on Chihily's website, though buried in the back in old installations. It turns out this installation is Chihuly's first installation for a public space!

Here are some pictures taken recently. These windows are extemely difficult to photograph. The contrast in light is extreme. When photographing, the window details get blown out very easily.
The glass is superior quality handblown flashed glass, with a good amount of gold pink flash. Each piece is acid etched. The red/pink and grey columns are symbols for the columns of smoke and fire that led the Isrealites in the desert.

This is the left side looking toward the Bima (central altar in a synagogue).

The right side looking toward the Bima.

A closer shot of the panels on the farthest right.

A even closer shot of the window on the farthest right,
where the pink is in between the red on rose pieces. These are at eye level.

and a close up showing the lines etched away on that same panel.
Not all panels have this thin line etching.

And this is a look at the metalwork. There are what appears to be brass channels holding each individual piece of glass.

[update april 29, 2005 - I just saw these windows for the first time in morning light and they come off much better. The unique quality of the handblown glass shows up much much better with the indirect light of the morning.]

Posted by Tom at 04:04 PM

March 03, 2005

Fabrication Process for a Small Panel

I designed a small wine and grape themed panel for a local arts auction.
Here is the fabrication process.

-----The pattern pieces have been cut and the cutting of glass begins. I've just cut the green tint for the background.

-----At first the palette is on the light table while I select out scraps of glass that might be used.

-----The palette is then propped up in the window and the pieces are waxed up one by one. When doing these smaller panels I often cut out 2 panels at once. That way I can pick and choose to make the best panel and still have the possibility of another after that. Sometimes I'll scrap the extra if it doesn't work out. In this case I'm making a second with a blue grey background. This is partly to cover myself if the silverstain does not work out well in the tint glass for the background.

-----Trace painting.

-----closer view.

-----I don't have to fire these before I do the tonal but I'm more used to it that way. This is the tonal painting - the paint brushed on and blended, then the light areas picked out with stencil brushes. The mess and dust of this process is the main reason I switched over to all non-lead glass paints. I have not noticed any difference except for improving my peace of mind about working with the stuff.

-----Close up of the tonal painting

-----Silverstain is applied. This shows the method, though the pieces for the panel were already in the kiln by the time I remembered the camera. The silverstain compound (silver nitrate) is applied with a brush to the back of the piece. It is blended lightly (unless you want distinct orange outlines around the silverstain areas), then fired in at a relatively low kiln temperature. The silverstained should not touch metal and the brushes. Also, the blender etc must all be seperate from the ones used for regular vitreous paints.

-----After the piece is fired (to about 1100 degrees fahrenheit) the red brown residue is wiped off to reveal the clear yellow stain in the glass.

-----The final wax up before assembly. I had though of adding this stripe to the label area. When I saw it waxed up with the yellow dominant background, the two areas seemed to fight each other. As much as I like the stripe area it just calls too much attention to itself.

-----I went with the simpler single piece for the label.
Now it's all ready to assemble.

-----Just after assembly. Again, I finished the panel before I remembered to take any pictures with the camera.

-----I wanted to make this panel so that it could be displayed on a stand or hung in a window. I started with some design ideas for the stand.

-----Translated those into more specific computer drawings

-----Start cutting the pieces.

-----Assemble the frame itself.

-----Note the change from the drawing. the original idea was to have two small rails on the side to hold the panel. It worked out better to put button size plugs in to hold the panel.

-----The finishedpanel in its stand.

-----This is the panel in sunlight.

Posted by Tom at 04:51 PM