April 28, 2009

Emanuele Luzzati - Illustrator, Animation Designer...
and Stained Glass Artist?

Michael Sporn has recently posted several entries on the films of Luzzati & Gianini on his animation blog, focusing particularly on the designs of Emanuele Luzzati, who passed away in 2007.

A typical Luzzati illustration, from the book version of The Magic Flute.

Luzzati's illustration is commonly referred to as 'stained glass like', which is to say that it features bright primary colors with strong black outlines. Because of this, I've long been curious to know if Luzzati ever designed any actual stained glass windows. It turns out he did, but only a few windows for one location. I found this article about Emanuele Luzzati called Fond Remembrances of Italian artist Emanuel Luzzati on the San Diego Jewish World website.

The website includes this small image showing windows designed by Luzzati for his local Synagogue in Genoa, Italy. Alas, I could find no closer images.

The other thing I've been curious about is if these 'stained glass like' designs would actually translate easily into actual stained glass. Below the fold I did a short experiment to see just how one of his illustrations might be translated into stained glass...

I'm taking one of the illustrations that Michael Sporn posted and try and translate that directly into a stained glass design.

First, just to give another sense of Luzatti's design work, here is a short segment of Luzzati & Gianini's animated film version of The Magic Flute - it's fun, too.

If you are interested there are more segments on YouTube.

The original illustration by Emanuele Luzzati, for a book version of The Magic Flute.

Here I've turned the darker grey lines into black and added black lines to make it possible to divide the design into cuttable pieces of glass. Not a huge difference, I'd say.

This represents the leadlines that would result. Turns out to be rather awkward in how the lines try to meet the design and not make any major changes.

On top of that, it would require a good bit of special effects work, like acid etching or sandblasting flashed glass to get 2 colors in specific areas on one piece of glass. This piece is an especially tortured piece, with not only a dicey shape to cut, but the white areas would have to be etched out of red flashed glass, then black painted on and silverstain for the little bit of yellow on the horse head. Possible, but neither direct nor easy.

So, in this instance, it's 'stained glass like' without being easily translatable into actual stained glass.

Now, of course, it's a bit of an unfair exercise, seeing that if this were a true collaboration between designer and fabricator there would be more back and forth and the linework would become more workable without losing the original sense of the design. Ideally.

Posted by Tom at 08:11 PM

April 24, 2009

Morning Glass Design gets the Internet Thing

Another find via my new twitter account - http://twitter.com/vitreosity

Gordon Watt, of Morning Glass Designs, out of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, seems to get the whole internet thing. At the very least he's decided to dive in and use the tools available. Not only does he have a blog, but also a Flickr Projects Page, and also a Twitter account where I first came across him.

Look at a recent project for a window at Portlethen Kirk that was posted initially on his blog and then as a Flickrset. It will be interesting to see how this all develops.

Posted by Tom at 07:52 AM

April 23, 2009

Smithsonian Craft Show starts TODAY

As I posted about last December, friend and colleague Nancy Nicholson is in this year's Smithsonian Craft Show, which starts today and goes through next Sunday.

As I said before, it's big news, as it's pretty rare for a stained glass artist to make it into the show. I was in the 2000 Smithsonian Craft show and it was a great experience, and I'm still getting commissions from that show.

I'm with you there in spirit, Nancy. Good Luck!!
If you're in Washington DC this weekend, make a point to go!!

Posted by Tom at 01:41 PM

April 20, 2009

Königsfelden Abbey

The April 2009 issue of Vidimus features an interview with medieval stained glass historian Madeleine Caviness, who is asked to name five places which they think every stained glass enthusiast ought to see before they die:

'Only five’ she exclaimed, 'It’s not easy but I’ll kick off with the Sainte Chapelle in Paris, Canterbury Cathedral in England, St Remi in France, Koeningsfelden in Switzerland [Fig. 9] and lastly, the extraordinarily rich windows of Cologne Cathedral that range from the 13th to the 16th century'.

I've only been to one of the sites, Sainte Chapelle, and I have to say I would not include it in my top 5 (bit too 'jewel box' for my taste). More surprising to me is that one of the places she mentions I'd never heard of - Koeningsfelden. I tried to do a search for it and came up with nothing at all. Not a thing. That is, until I realized I needed to search for it as Königsfelden, with the umlaut 'ö' instead of the anglicized 'oe'. That did it.

Eventually, I found the official website from the Convent Church Königsfelden, now a part of the Museum Aargau. Very nicely done too, especially the section called the Window Cycle. Every 14th century window is pointed out and described iconographically. There is a very nice St. Francis Sermon to the Birds. Also, a rather gruesome Beheading of St. John the Baptist, that features some early, rudimentary attempts at using linear perspective in stained glass design.

I also found a nice page of images giving some longer perspective shots in Wikimedia Commons:Category:Königsfelden Abbey



One curious detail stuck out in a quick look through the windows. The original windows date from the early half of the 14th century, but were extensively restored in 1900. The website gives a good indication what is original and what is new.

But the windows themselves tell us they've been restored. Notice the center bottom panel.

image from wikimedia commons site

image from Flickr page with Königsfelden Windows

It says "Renovatum Anno Domini MDCCCC" and translates as "Restored in the Year of our Lord 1900". Now that's documentation.

Posted by Tom at 10:45 PM

April 17, 2009

Dana Thomas House to reopen soon

Good news for fans of the stained glass of Frank Lloyd Wright -

One of the most significant sites for Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass, the Dana-Thomas House in Springfield, Il, is to re-open soon. It was closed last year due to budget constraints.

from the mystateline.com article Some Historic Sites To Reopen Soon -

Blanchette says there's no word yet on which locations will reopen but says that the Dana-Thomas House in Springfield, the Lincoln Log Cabin near Charleston, and other popular places will probably come first.
Posted by Tom at 11:04 AM

April 15, 2009

Made for Manufacture Exhibit at the Getty

via Twitter - first time! - but so new to it that I don't know how to link to the individual "tweet", or even if I can -

It is curious that stained glass is given its own category in this Getty Museum exhibit called Made for Manufacture. I like the idea of the exhibit as I always love seeing original working drawings for stained glass, or any other 'manufactured' artwork for that matter.

for example - all these stained glass cartoons available on Wikimedia - including this Design for a Stained Glass Window for Christoph von Eberstein, by Hans Holbein the Younger.


I tried a Google search for "working drawings stained glass" and found very little. The best example, IMHO, was from a page about 'The Process', by stained glass artist Alice Johnson. Full disclosure - I created the webpage and Alice is a good friend (and excellent stained glass artist).

As for anyone who sees the Getty show, give me a shout.

Posted by Tom at 08:02 PM

April 13, 2009

Steel Wheel Glass Cutter - Google SG Patents 1

Last weekend, as a simple afternoon diversion, I started looking up stained glass related patents on Google Patents, especially older patents from the time of the revival and boom of stained glass in America, from around 1865 to 1910.

Well, it turns out I found quite a few more interesting patents related to stained glass than I expected, so I'm splitting this into multiple parts to do it justice.

First up, the humble steel wheel glass cutter. My blog post on glass cutting provides some background on glass cutting and different types of cutters.

This webpage about the History of the Fletcher Terry Company mentions some patents that I could not find [update August 18, 2009 - I did find an OM Pike patent from 1868 - it's the first petent below the fold], but does mention this Samuel Monce patent from 1869 - Improvement in Tools for Cutting Glass, Samuel Monce, 1869.

This is the earliest one I found and it fits in well with the Fletcher Terry page. Not too far from the basic tool we see today, though with a wider shaped bone handle and a wider steel wheel.

more patents with a little comment in the full post...

[update - early patent, though seemingly and curiously pre-steel wheel -
patent # 85396, issued to Ozi M. Pike, Dec 29, 1868]

Improvement in Glazier's Tools, Samuel G. Monce, Bristol, Connecticut, 1870
Earliest multitasking steel wheel cutter? First appearance of the grozing 'teeth'. I doubt this ever went into production. I've certainly never seen anything like it.

Improvement in Steel Glass-Cutters, by Henry Clarke, Washington DC, 1875
The handle looks close to what we have today, with the grozing 'teeth' up close to the wheel, but the steel wheel is still much wider.

Revolving Glass Cutter, 1880, by B.F. Adams, Springfield, Massachusetts.
This is what the profile of most steel wheels on glass cutters looks like to this day.

Apparatus for Cutting Glass, Samuel Monce, 1890
This looks to be a cutting jig for cutting straight lines and strips. I've built a few of these for my studio and others, but never with this kind of springy mechanism.

Mounting for Glass Cutters, Samuel Monce, 1917
After the basic shape of the wheel was figured out, most patents after this seem to focus on mechanisms for making the wheel changeable, so it can be replaced firmly and easily after it's worn out.

Glass Cutter, Samuel Monce 1917
Pretty wacky looking head fro a glass cutter. I'm not quite sure what the purpose is for the odd shape.

If you are interested in more recent oddball cutters that never made it to market, look at this one that bizarrely rethinks how to cut glass, and this one that turns a standard cutter into a pistol grip, and this one that puts a big knob around a standard cutter, and this convoluted constant pressure cutter.

Posted by Tom at 08:02 PM

April 12, 2009

Henry Holiday Stained Glass

Vic Rothman put together this montage of stained glass heads from The Church of the Holy Trinity in New York. All windows designed by Henry Holiday.

I've been to Holy Trinity and it's always a treat seeing a church that has a full program of panels by one artist, especially when it's of this caliber. I must admit that my favorite aspect of Holiday's work isn't usually the faces, but the patterning on the clothing. It's always amazingly precise and beautiful. You can see it here in this Populi Domini panel from St. Mary's, Buckland, Oxfordshire, England, via the always amazing Flickrite Lawrence OP.


If you really like Henry Holiday's stained glass, then definitely check out his book on stained glass - Stained Glass as an Art. It's an interesting read, though he does rail on a bit too much on what he doesn't like (Munich Glass, American Opalescent Glass, stained glass done to imitate Medieval Glass, and more). The most interesting part of the book comes in seeing his designs, especially the ones showing the preliminary "Naked" cartoon, then comparing it to the "Final" cartoon, then finally to the finished window. It really demonstrates how much of a classicist Holiday was.

[update May 14, 2009 - Just the other day I found a snapshot from when I saw the window in 1986 and though it's not a great quality photo, it is just good enough for a web-based side by side comparison.

click to pop-up a larger version.

Christ the Consoler and the Seven Acts of Mercy,
East Window in the Church of St. Luke’s Hospital, New York
left and center images from Henry Holiday's Stained Glass as an Art.
right image by Tom Krepcio, circa 1986.]

Of course, Henry Holiday is probably best known for another book, which Lewis Carroll wrote and Henry Holiday illustrated - The Hunting of the Snark. My favorite of the Snark illustrations is this one from my favorite chapter, or 'fit' - The Beaver's Lesson.


It should be noted that Holiday is generally considered the least successful of Carroll's illustrators. Holiday's classical training is seen as being a hindrance to him doing successful caricature. I like his illustrations, but I can see the point.

More info than you're likely to want to know about Hunting of the Snark on answers.com.

Posted by Tom at 08:33 AM

April 09, 2009

Rowan LeCompte on NPR this Saturday

via the AGG discussion board -

Renowned artist and AGG Senior Advisor, Rowan LeCompte, will be interviewed by host Scott Simon on Saturday's National Public Radio (NPR) program (4/11/09). The segment is expected to air between 9:30-10AM.

Rowan LeCompte is best known for his work on Washington's National Cathedral. If you are unfamiliar with Rowan's work, check out the recent article in the Washington Post called God in the Details.

I'll link to the NPR interview page when it's online.

[update1 4/11/09 -the NPR page is up and called Stained Glass Artist Lets The Light Through At Last, by Justine Kenin.]

[update2 - There is also video of Rowan called Let There Be Light that is in the works from a company called Global Visions.]

[update3 - I didn't get a chance to hear the interview until it came on the web this afternoon. Too brief, as usual, but a very nice interview. It's worth looking through the comments to the story as well. The passage that people seem to have picked up on the most is regarding Scott Simon's question as to whether Rowan believed in God and on Rowan's response -

"I believe in Kindness and Love. And there are those who say that those are God. I don't know, but I respect and love Kindness and Love, and worship them. And if I'm worshiping God, I'm delighted."

It's a nice, open-minded sentiment and I'm glad he put it that way. I met Rowan once briefly, but never had a chance to talk with him at length, so I never got to see this side of him. Thanks to Scott Simon and NPR, I've gotten a glimpse.]

Posted by Tom at 06:52 PM