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