Bit o’ Honey ~ the little things that please

The little things that please . . .

Tree of Life ~ pt. 4

with one comment

The sun is alive.  It shimmers and burns and imparts a firey magic into glass.  Ideally, a stained glass window should be viewed in natural light, against a sky animated by clouds.  Artificial light can mimic the sun, but face it, even the best Elvis impersonator just isn’t Elvis.  I knew from the start that the window would have a translucent pane of glass behind it to hide the bulbs of a light box.  It wasn’t until I reached this stage of planning, however, that I began to take into consideration the impact on the window.  The translucent pane would flatten the colors and virtually erase the texture of the glass.  But there’s rarely an ideal situation for a stained glass window, so I have to do my best to make it work.   All week I’ve lain awake in bed trying to come up with a way to counter the diminishing effects of the light box.  I realize now I have to completely rethink my glass choice.  And – I hear my father’s voice as I write this – I have to rethink my attitude.  A light box will allow the window to glow even at night, so visitors can find comfort in the meditation room at any hour.  That’s a fine thing.   So even under these circumstances I can still make the best window for the environment. I’d planned to use a solid colored transparent glass called “cathedral”.  Here, you can see the intricate diamond-shaped patterns, the marks of blown glass.  I love the clarity and brilliant color of cathedrals.

Nice facets!

Seen against my light table, which is also transluscent, the glass lost its brilliance.   One obvious solution would be to use an opalescent, but I don’t want to.  Opalescents are saturated with white.  They work well in reflected light and are good for privacy, but it’s a dense, heavy-looking glass that makes the the window feel dated.   


I’ve decided to include a selection of transparent streakies.  This should help make up for the loss of movement and texture.  Mouthblown streakies are some of the most expensive glass made, for a reason. Their swirls of color are seductive: 

 Streakies show the appearance of glass in its molten form.


The bold movement can be overwhelming, so I’ll have to use this glass thoughtfully.   I’ll intersperse these pieces with solid cathedrals to help mellow out the activity.  

When I last met the committee at the hospital with my revised sketch, they liked the progress but there were still concerns.   The project manager thought the stream looked too much like a waterfall and needed to be smoothed out.  Also, the art director pointed out the way the tree roots butt up against the stream.   I was unhappy with myself for not rethinking this before I offered the sketch.  She suggested I taper them off somehow.  It does look pretty bad.


Ouch!  She’s right too!


So much of the creative process is about problem-solving.  Working with a committee means others take a stab at solving those problems.  I don’t always think my ideas are the best, but I want the satisfaction of finding solutions on my own.  This may not happen when you work with a committe.   My parents called me stubborn when I was younger, and I was.  I was driven to make my own mistakes, even if it meant living for a time in the ruins of the outcome.  Mistakes, problems, detours, they all fuel creativity.  And creativity is, in part, a practice of faith.  I love being in the thick of it, working my way through, with no one showing me how, and emerging days or weeks later having birthed a thing of beauty.  While the oversight in my design wasn’t a big problem, it humbled me to the collaborative process where rough ideas are exposed to such scrutiny by others.  




Written by Janie

July 1, 2008 at 1:25 pm

One Response

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  1. Wow, this committee is pretty harsh. Not having ever done commissioned work, this is areally eye-opening for me. I can’t believe how they are scrutinizing every detail!


    July 3, 2008 at 2:00 am

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