Bit o’ Honey ~ the little things that please

The little things that please . . .

Posts Tagged ‘collaboration

Tree of Life ~ The Installation

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It’s done!  


The metalsmith, A, made an exquisite frame.

The steel was darkened with “gunmetal blue” patina.


After a few last minute changes (the overlays had to be removed . . . darn!) we delivered the window at 6 p.m. the evening before the hospital’s opening ceremony.

A and his wife were a great help!



There was no lack of pomp and circumstance on opening day.



A circus too?


Governor Baldacci and Barbara Bush were there!  

How sweet of Barbara to come just to see my window!


The meditation room of the Infant’s and Children’s Wing.

The new home.


This has truly been the most challenging job I’ve ever attempted and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.  That I’ve completed it to the best of my ability gives me a great sense of accomplishment.  Despite some misgivings over particular aspects of its design, I’m thoroughly honored to have the window reside in such an important setting.  To know the public may find hope and comfort in the work at a most stressful time in their lives is the most meaningful part of the whole experience. 

Finally, I leave the window in its new home and turn my attention to other projects.  Thanks to all the support I received from members of the committee, from R whom I work with who gave me so much good advice, from A who made the window complete with the perfect frame, from bloggers who responded so positively to my posts.  And thanks to my family, who answered all my late night phone calls and cheered me on.








Written by Janie

September 7, 2008 at 8:55 am

Tree of Life ~ Pt. 10

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I’ve finished soldering the canopy and have moved onto the lower half of the window.  Since I sadly had to abandon the delicous gold-pink glass that I’d planned to use in the “sky” I needed to find an alternative.    I frantically searched through my stock of blues but they were jewel-tones, too dark for the window.  It was too late to order more glass, so I absolutely had to find some way of using something from my inventory.  After much digging, I found two fractured pieces of the palest blue glass I hadn’t used in years.  I managed to alter the design to fit the odd shapes I had to work with, just enough to do the trick!  


 It always surprises me how the addition of the simplest lines create expression.  


Before soldering, I added these copper foil overlays.  I felt the larger pieces of sky and ground needed some simple embellishment.  Overlays allow me to add lines without cutting the glass. The beauty of overlays is that they’re easily removed if I don’t like the results.

R. offered to fire my name on the glass, so it’s there for good.  I carried the piece sandwiched in cardboard to and from my house on the bus to get to the studio where R. helped let me use her paints.  That I made it home without breaking it is a small miracle.


Thankfully, my parents valued good penmanship.  


The window just fits my work table.  Thanks again to my dad who made the table sturdy enough so that I could crawl around on top to reach the center of the panel more easily.  

And stand on top to take pictures . . .


All that’s left is my nameplate.  


It’s nearly 11 p.m.  I spent most of the day holed up in the studio to complete assembly, giving up a night of salsa dancing (sigh) to be sure I make the August 29 deadline.  It was worth it — I’ll sleep well tonight!


Written by Janie

August 24, 2008 at 10:52 am

Tree of Life ~ Pt. 9

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I’m making good progress on the window, but it hasn’t come without glitches.  The gold-pink glass, though lovely and vibrant, simply overwhelmed the rest of the glass. I had concerns about ordering glass I’d never used before.  Each sheet is so unique and so difficult to assess from a catalog photo.  It wasn’t until I began cutting the glass that I realized it just wouldn’t work.  The color competed with the bright greens in the leaves.  In a fit of panic, I contacted the art consultant, who made a last-minute visit to the studio.  She agreed that the glass wasn’t right, then said the words I’ve been wanting to hear through the whole process: “Just do what you need to do to make it work.”

It was a disappointment not the use this glass – I spent $200 on this single sheet – but now I have an exquisite piece of glass to experiment with for future projects.


Here’s a peek at my progress so far:


 I redrew the entire image to fit the new dimensions.  Using a pencil allows me to adjust the design as I go.   



I deliberately left gaps between pieces to create a more interesting solder line.



I added a few pink leaves to break up the green.


I’ve laid out the entire canopy and have begun soldering.  I wanted to see how this looked before I moved on to the earth and stream.   At the last minute I found a pale blue for the sky below the canopy in place of the goldpink, which would have overpowered it all.   

I should have the front of the window soldered by the weekend, then comes the task of flipping the whole thing over!  Here, my father’s carpentry comes in handy.  He built the work table with a hinged top that opens up vertically for just this kind of challenge.  Thanks, Daddy!

Written by Janie

August 19, 2008 at 6:49 pm

Tree of Life ~ Pt. 8

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The glass has arrived!


Like Christmas in August!


It’s The Streakies!


Goldpink will become the Hopeful Sun.



Turquoise Streaky will become the Stream.  



And Green Streaky will become the Ground.


Nothing gets me geared up for work like unwrapping new glass!

All I need now to begin cutting are the final dimensions.   I’ll mull over the glass for a few days to get a sense of what details each sheet offers and how I might use them.  Then it’s me alone in the studio to meld the ideas from so many meetings with the best of my aesthetic and skill.  How it will all come together is still unclear, but I’m more confident now that I have the glass.  


Written by Janie

August 6, 2008 at 8:43 am

Tree of Life ~ Pt. 7

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You may want to sit down for this news . . . 


The design has been approved!  

It only took six weeks and four revisions.  


More leaves!  More green!


I cranked out this watercolor in record time to make a last-minute meeting this morning.  Not the quiet, subdued image I’d originally envisioned for the space, but it is a fair translation of the requests to make the design more vibrant and hopeful.  At this point I’m tired of looking at the darn thing. 

I still have to revise the final sketch to fit the new opening, but within a week I hope to begin cutting glass!


Written by Janie

July 31, 2008 at 9:20 am

Tree of Life ~ pt. 6

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If you’ve ever attempted to bake bread you know that the finished loaf rarely ends up the way you imagined, no matter how closely you follow the recipe.  So too with art.  On this project I find myself experimenting with a recipe for a stained glass window . . . with four people in the kitchen.  Sketches, glass samples, and watercolor serve as raw ingredients, but no one can know the results until the window is assembled and set against light. 

When I presented my most recent draft to the committee some interesting comments came my way.  The leaves didn’t have the verdant quality one wanted.  Their colors were muted and dark.  And the sun didn’t seem to be breaking through the canopy.  The tree was lacking, in fact, of leaves.  Maybe more leaves and less sky?  And the earth, it looked like sand, like a desert.  Too reminiscent of death.  


Well, at least they were honest!


I really didn’t take their criticisms personally.  After all, it was just a watercolor.  Besides, there are so many ways to interpret a work of art, each legitimate in their own way.  But I admit, their concerns were surprising.  

I explained that I’d hoped to mimic the look of sun breaking through leaves by using a range of greens, from citron to olive, to give the appearance of light and shadow.  But where I saw leaves in shadow, others saw dying leaves.  And where I used a warm rosy brown for earth to contrast with green, others saw as desert sand.  As for the quantity of leaves, I simply didn’t want to bombard the viewer with activity.  Already I felt the design was drifting away from my original intention of serenity and simplicity.  Any new changes at this point will have to be subtle, at best, to preserve that intention.   

I’m not a literal artist or a literal viewer.  I prefer suggestion, nuance, and ambiguity in art, things that feed the imagination.  I’d hoped to bring something unexpected into what’s now a straightforward image of a tree by a stream.   And so another challenge presented itself in this collective process – to convince the committee to allow the opportunity for surprise, rather than overwork the design.  This sentiment was articulated by one member and understood by all, but nonetheless it was determined that certain points would need to be addressed.  Working with a committee means the majority rules.  Green ground and more leaves it is.  

So, it’s back to the drawing board for round four.  

Meanwhile, the project manager will be changing the original position of the window, which means the dimensions will likely change.  A entirely new sketch will need to be made.  It’s a hurry-up and wait routine, but I’m glad to have a little breathing room before I begin the new revision.  I’ll need the time to take the in the requests and return to the design with a fresh perspective.


Written by Janie

July 19, 2008 at 9:35 am

Tree of Life ~ pt. 5

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With the composition set down in my previous sketch I felt free to loosen up the lines as I went along with this draft.  I left visible pencil marks to encourage this play when I begin my glass work.  I’ll be using a copper foil technique, which works well with organic shapes.  The less rigid I am following lines while cutting glass, the more interesting the end result.  After so many challenges sort forth by the committee, I’m pleased with how I’ve implement their ideas .


I hope this will be the last sketch . . .


And the last watercolor!


The next big challenge will be my choice and use of glass.  The fun has just begun!

I meet once more with the committee after the July 4 holiday.   Stay tuned.


Now, to clean my studio . . .