Latest Event Updates
Inspired by the extremes of nature including lava, red hot coals, frozen crystals and opaque white ice, this stained glass piece of art brings energy and movement to a simple or modern space. The rare black repurposed window frame comes complete with original hanging hardware. Just for fun, hang this in a window during October to create an edgy seasonal display! Visit our online store at WendyJames.com for this and other unique works.
A statement piece of stained glass on repurposed black frame window art “Cinderella’s Ride” available just in time for the fall decorating season. This and other pieces of Wendy’s original artwork may be found in our online store at WendyJames.com or visit the Sunbear Studio Art and Antiques Gallery in Alexandria, OH.
The Winds of Change
Autumn is one of the boldest seasons of change in nature. In the spectrum of colors on the wheel, reds, oranges and yellows are the most intense. Set against the crisp, deep azure sky and the canvas of alabaster cumulus clouds, or contrasting a completely fuzzy gray, dreary, hazy sky, those crimsons, red-oranges and amber-yellows pop out and say, ‘Do not tarry! Do not tarry! The cold winds of winter are coming over the mountain. The heavy frost is soon upon the ground. Do not tarry! Do not tarry! Bring the harvest in today.’
I find myself in those heady autumn years as many of you are, also. Blessings abound as so many colored leaves. Regrets and looking back are useless, unless to remind us of a better way to live. Remembering what we did for good is only helpful to spur us on to finish strong. The coming rest of old age may seem strangely alluring as we struggle on in the here and now attempting to store up and shore up for retirement. Yet, we can begin to see as we take care of those before us how with the rest will come a largely diminished ability to accomplish the great goals of our youth.
And so, it is with renewed vigor that we glance up at the canopy of leaves over our daily walk and we feel the need to reevaluate, reinvent, rediscover, renew the purposes for which we were sent – to make sure that we finish what we started to the glory of God and to the best of our ability. Not striving. Not simply surviving. But finding it again and finishing it.
Did we change the world? We set out to. Did we blaze a pioneering trail? We meant to. Did we challenge the youth and those who come behind us? We hope so. Are we – have we drifted into complacency about retiring as though already half dead?
Listen to the rustle of the ever-changing leaves,
Listen to the locusts singing, chirping on the breeze,
Look inside your heart of hearts.
Focus on the needs.
And Lord help us laborers
To finish all our deeds.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who HOPE IN THE LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31. NIV
COMMISSIONED SET DELIVERED! (It’s a lot like having a baby 🙂 )
I am happy to say that a commissioned set of three windows was recently completed and delivered to Judith of Springfield! She had seen similar windows at the Springfield Garden Tour and placed an order that she helped imagine by selecting a few ideas of certain plants and birds that she enjoys. She left the design work up to me and graciously gave me artistic license to interpret the images as I wished.
MY WONDERFUL CLIENT’S STORY
Judith is a gardener extraordinaire who has created a fantastic oasis on the farm that has been in her family for generations. She allowed me to tour it last summer as we were making plans for the window set. Tucked in by darling older buildings, stonework and charming fencing, around every nook and corner is bed after bed of gorgeous perennials, trees, foliage and annuals. A nature lover and world traveler, she has a wonderful sense of beauty and classic design.
Judith then showed me the porch where she wanted to hang the mosaics. I had actually brought the blank windows with me that day so that we could imagine them in the space. In forming the ideas for her unique, one-of-a-kind pieces of art, I asked her to jot down some of her favorite flora and fauna. She was able to quickly identify a number of birds that she loves (she named some favs but gave me a free hand to choose those that would work best) and also to pick out some designs that were a reference from an old English book of watercolor paintings.
A COZY WINTER (ok I’m a walker and it was blistering cold, but sometimes cozy),
Thankfully, it was a nice cozy winter with lots of time to imagine and design. I began to research the types of birds that she had listed and used the internet and word documents to collect ideas. Judith was wonderfully flexible about the plan and so gracious to let me have at it. I decided after much debate, that it was to be four types of birds on two panels flanking the porch window and a three pane botanical below. In order to gain balance, I had to plan four seasons, have the colors cross each other from side to side and below and try to get the birds resting in foliage and trees that they would represent natural habitats. Another issue was the size of the various birds in relation to each other. Once I established the look I wanted and found a few reference photos to guide my free-hand drawings, I sketched out the designs and inked them and placed them on the cleaned, prepped windows.
WINDOWS OF INTEREST
An interesting tidbit about the windows in this set is that Judith has blessed me with a lot of old windows from her farm and we were able to incorporate one of them (the three pane) in the set. I love the hardware on the one from her homestead. The other two side windows were from a colonial house in Granville on Broadway St. All of these windows are very rare.
FINDING BALANCE AND DESIGN
Her favorite types of birds were blue jay, cardinal, gold finch and chickadee. She was also interested in the dragonfly and loves the monarch butterfly. Having selected a number of botanical possibilities, I was able to incorporate color matches across the windows such as the gold finches on lavender thistles and then the lavender and a hint of the same greens and yellow being found on certain flowers in the three-pane design below. In this way, the balance of red-orange cardinal was picked up in the poppy design, etc. I also took into consideration the heavier aspects of the jay and cardinal in both color and relational size and planned to place them farther away from the entry door to give the illusion of controlled and balanced weight. I knew that Judith preferred the finch and especially chickadee and so was happy to place these at eye level so that every time she enters her house it is most likely these images she will encounter first.
In the past I had simply broken a lot of glass for the individual mosaic pieces and searched for the right size piece, but more and more as the designs grow more intricate, I find that I like to individually clip each piece to fit the space, so the work actually takes quite a while longer to produce, however the effect is quite satisfying. The final step is to adhere each piece to the window after the lay-out is completed.
THE TEA PARTY SURPRISE
When we arrived at Judith’s home to drop off the completed pieces, she had a huge surprise waiting for Janet (my Mum-in-law) and I. Janet and Judith are old friends and have traveled abroad together. She invited us to TEA in the living room of her homestead. When we entered the room a warm and crackly fire was already blazing and she had a darling table set with her English tea pieces. Displayed in Judith’s hand is the reproduction of an old English tea cozy that Janet had made by hand for her a few years ago. What a pleasure it was to listen to those two converse about their trips abroad! It was a lovely repast on a crisp spring day by a cozy fire with mutual friends. A day to remember!
I’m all set up to do five more pieces (I like to get all of the prep work done for a few of them and then have some days of just doing glass) since most of my vocal studio is on Spring Break next week, am hoping to fly through them and complete a special order and to get some new spring/summer material into SunBear Art Studio in Alexandria.
SUNBEAR ART STUDIO AND RAGAMUFFIN COFFEE SHOP, ALEXANDRIA, OH
If you haven’t been there yet you are missing a treat! Meredith, the owner and artist, features a wide variety of quality works by local/Ohio artists and there are classes going on there all of the time. Be sure to check it out and stop in at the Ragamuffin coffee shop right next door for some yummy java! Friends of ours own the coffee shop and you are in for an mmm mmm good experience. Check out their baked goods too!
SUNFLOWERS: CREATING A MEMORY OF A MEMORY….
The Sunflower design that was custom ordered from the Springfield Garden Tour was recently delivered. My client selected this piece because her wedding was themed with sunflowers. Instead of the darker, beige frame, she preferred the white window contrasting the bright, bold blues, yellows and oranges. I love to create pieces for folks who order with particular memories in mind. What a special way to create a memory of a special day!
CANNA DESIGN DELIVERED TO SUNBEAR STUDIO IN ALEXANDRIA….
I was excited to deliver the first in a series of spring and summer designs to hang in Alexandria at Meredith Martin’s Sunbear Art Studio. Meredith is a great support and encouragement to local and state of Ohio artists and to those aspiring to create who attend classes there, taught by a number of different advanced teachers of various mediums. Be sure to check out all of the amazing works for sale by many, many talented artists. Go to the studio site to view the array of upcoming events slated from now through December! Bring your garden clubs, art groups, ladies-day- outers and Mother’s Day-ers to visit! Be sure to head upstairs to the studios and to the adjacent antique store downstairs so that you don’t miss anything. Galleries galore! What a refreshing time you’ll have!
Welcome to my Art Blog!
Many people ask how I got started making the stained glass mosaics on repurposed windows so I thought I’d start off by sharing the story of how it all began.
It All Began in Urbana
My mother-in-law and I love to hang out together. A couple of years ago she and I were shopping for the unusual find over in Urbana, OH, near the date of my birthday. We were snooping around the upstairs rooms of one of those musty old department stores with the ornate ceilings and wide stairs that lead up to the second story. This particular one had been made over into a number of rentable antique booths. As we explored the upper level, I spotted a very small old window that had a rainbow design of tiny stained glass pieces set with black mortar between the pieces. It was accidentally backlit by another display in the hall with soft Christmas lights and I was quite taken by the effect. (At the time, rainbows were especially meaningful to me because I felt that the Lord was telling me personally that although we had been in a quiet recovery period in life that there was much more ahead and to believe the promise (thus the rainbow) that more was coming). We went on to many other places that day but I couldn’t get the piece out of my mind. You’d have to know my m-in-law, but she’s very generous and wanted to get me something nice for my birthday so she heard me talking about going back for it and asked if she could get me that piece of art for my present.
The Second Piece of the Puzzle
A second piece of the puzzle of how the window idea developed, takes me back to the seventh grade. We are thankful for our teachers along life’s way aren’t we? And to our parents for saving things! You see, in shop class with Mr. Ross (it was mandatory in my school for girls and boys to take a semester of shop), we had taken a shattered windshield (imagine the law suits and insurance companies today!) and colored the back of the glass with rainbow colored markers. We then glued individual pieces of glass onto a brandy sniffer and filled in the cracks with white plaster. Unbelievably, my Mom saved that piece over the years and I still have it. (I grew up in a family of five and not a lot survived our farming years!)
Doing the Same Thing Once
So you can see that the two events networked in my mind. I am not a person who likes to do the same thing twice and so when looking on-line for mosaic tiles was disappointed to find squares or circles. I am neither square nor circular. I am not symmetrical either! So I found glass at a local retailer and decided to hit it with a hammer and see what happened. IT BROKE (!) into a bunch of delightful, completely different pieces, sizes and shapes.
From there I experimented with a number of types of glue, eventually landing on one that really works well (I am indebted to the artist at the Grand Rapids Art Prize who did the Marilyn Monroe pop art piece a couple of years ago for the hot tip about the glue). Some day I’ll share what the name of the glue is!
I bought a few windows at first, but from there, found an entire house of colonial-aged ones and since, other friends and acquaintances have discovered my use of windows that were destined for the junk heap, and have graciously given me a wide range of “canvases” on which to create my designs. To these generous ones I am grateful!
As far as designs for the windows, I come up with something that inspires me and draw it to lay behind the window as I place the glass, or if a commissioned piece is based on a picture or photo, I will create a design from that, also free hand, and go from there. It actually takes quite a bit of thought and design work depending on how complicated the piece is. In future Blog posts I’ll take you through a sample of the design work that went into the piece I’m currently completing on commission. It is a three window set and required extensive research and advanced planning. The beauty of a great finished piece is that the process can look deceptively simple if it’s done well.
Thanks for checking in and I’ll look forward to hearing from you soon! Wendy