When we finished the last three windows I decided that St. Mary's head was not up to the standard we achieved with all the other heads. So I had James repaint it. It was the first head James had painted and we were really at the beginning of the journey to decode Charlie Lawrences painting techniques. James must have painted Mary ten times before we even fired the first one. But when the other heads (all of which were painted multiple times) were finished they all had emotional depth that the Marys head was missing. So even though James had gone on to other jobs he came in and did this last head over.
Part of the problem was that when I blew the sketch up to full size it didn't have enough detail. I'm sure that was part of the problem first time around.
So I went back to Charlies preliminary sketches. There were a dozen or so, each one with a different gesture and affect. Charlie was a perfectionist. he drew Mary over and over - each time as a totally fresh sketch. No tracing the figure and changing one arm. Oh no! We're talking about a totally new idea every time. If the arm changes position all the drapes change too in order to balance the new gesture.I looked at each one carefully and in one of the last sketches before the final I found more clarification of what CZ's intent was. So I emailed the sketch to James and when he came in we talked it over. I wanted him to combine the two sketches using data from both to clarify the final. We talked about the emotional engagement the other heads created and how important this was to these window which were down at eye level.
So he worked on it for two days first making sketches of the trace line and then painting the head on glass. We put it in the kiln at the end of the day and fired it and left. the next day I pulled it out and popped it in the panel taping it in with scotch tape. I put the panel up and looked at it. The matte felt just the slightest bit too weak at the perimeter her face, but I wasn't sure. After looking at it all day I knew it needed one more hit. I called James and he said he had been worried about it lightening in the kiln too much. After it came out of the kiln this time it was perfect.
Last October my friend and mentor, Charlie Lawrence called me. He wanted to know if I would help him fabricate his last four stained glass windows.
Charles Z Lawrence has five stained glass windows in the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. and is considered one of the most important stained glass designers in 20th century America. Of course I was thrilled to have the chance to work with him. We began working on logistics, photographing sketches for the client and writing up a contract. Then the holidays came and we let things lie. On Christmas Day Charlies daughters posted on Facebook that Charlie was in the hospital. He had terminal cancer. By the end of the month he was in hospice. I went to see him, took the sketches and glass and we talked about the windows and how he wanted them executed. On January 1, 2019 Charlie passed into the next life.
My piece, "Selenium Path", was juried into the 2017 show! Below are this year's jurors.
Lindsy Parrott, Curator of the Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, Long Island City, NY
Susie Silbert, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Glass at Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY.
Diane Wright, The Carolyn and Richard Barry Curator of Glass, Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA
Sycamore Studio has just finished fabricating a new clerestory window for St. Mathews Church in Sunbury, PA. Rick worked on several window creations for them when general manager at Willet Studios, and was delighted when asked to create the last of the north facing clerestories. It was a wonderful opportunity to use the depth of knowledge imparted to him by Crosby Willet during the twelve years they worked as a team. This window is a classic neo-gothic design employing the jewel tone colors that define the high art of the twelfth century. Installation to follow soon!
This year the jurors for the AGNX Glass Now exhibition were Lindsy Parrott, Rolf Achilles and Judith Schaechter. 17 Stained Glass Autonomous panels were juried into the show and three awards for excellence were given. My panel, Blue Grid Vortex was among the three awards. Also given the award were glass artists Sasha Zhitneva and Marie-Pascale Foucault-Phipps
I'm presenting a talk April 7th at the Skillman Library at Lafayette College about two windows that were restored under my leadership at Willet Studios back in 2002.
One window (pictured) was listed as "lost to fire" for years in an authoritative book about Tiffany's work. When at Willet I worked closely with my mentor Crosby Willet who is a graduate of Lafayette College. Crosby one day informed me that this lost Tiffany, the Alcuin and Charlemagne window was not lost but languishing in crates stored up on the Lafayette campus. We eventually restored this and another Tiffany, The Death of Sir Philip Sydney.
I will speak about the restorations and specifically the two very different techniques Tiffany used in these two windows to solve the problem of supporting multilayered stained glass construction
Shane Confectionery, here in Philadelphia, is the oldest Candy Store in America. One of the owners, Ryan Berley, lives in my little town of Lansdowne just west of the city limits. I've know Ryan as a man of impeccable taste and boundless energy, so I was delighted when he asked me to do a special stained glass job for him for Shane's.
Ryan brought me an old sign he had acquired that was made of white opalescent glass with two lines of textured red lettering: CHOCOLATES above and CARAMELS below.
Ryan's idea was to create another sign advertising a wonderful old Victorian confectionery favorite that Shane Confectionery has brought back to life - CLEAR TOY CANDIES. The signs were to be set side by side in a beautiful oak frame and made to look as though they had always been a pair.
I met with Ryan's cabinetmaker, Chris, and we talked over the best approach for making the final project look as if it had always existed. The project required a balance between the span of space we had to fill and the existing size of the existing window panel. It was decided that while the height of the sign would remain as it was, I would have to add glass to the width of the existing panel.
I had to search now for the best possible glass matches so the new sign looked original. I sent pictures and descriptions to my glass importer, Bendheim, and then moved on to the design phase.
Old signs were crafted by hand and eye and when I began carefully analyzing the lettering I found that many letters were a little higher or a little lower than others. Not only that, but the distance between letters was somewhat idiosyncratic! This meant I would have to recreate those discrepancies in the new window. No computer lettering allowed!
I carefully laid out the lettering and lead line to replicate all the characteristics of the original sign until I was satisfied I had captured the approach of the original craftsmen. Now it was time to select and cut glass. While the white glass was fairly easy to find, the red lettering has a texture and variation that I could not match exactly. But I was able to find a textured red with enough variation to match the major characteristics of the lettering. I had to buy four full sheets of glass to get the range of darks and light! Now I was ready to roll. Cut glass, assemble windows, and cement and bar them. I added a stained glass column to each end of the windows and replaced the original sign's border, partly due to damage but also to further the feeling that they had alway existed together.
Just got my July August issue of Art Glass magazine where my autonomous panels are featured in a four page article! Unfortunately the magazine is by subscription only but you can purchase the magazine online at https://www.glassartmagazine.com. Thanks to Colleen Bryan for her excellent writing and Shawn Waggoner the editor for showcasing my work!
I've made a living in the stained glass field for over thirty years as artisan, manager and now, artist and studio owner. Now that I have a website please come and visit periodically and see what I'm up to. Maybe it will be a new church project, or a piece of work made purely for the love of glass. Or some news of Sycamore studio in the news. Join me on my glass path. Its better than streets of gold any day.