Glass Abstract Panel [Project 21 / Commission 1]

The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.

Arnold J. Toynbee

Blue Menagerie

Completed panel, “Blue Menagerie”, leaning in my window prior to delivery.

C’est fini.  😀

My first commission turned out beautiful.

Best of all — my client loves it!  😎

Blue Menagerie, before soldering, while still on my work table.

Project 11 -- Double Mosaic Windows

In a section of my mosaic windows [Project 11], my client saw a section that resembled a duck’s bill & asked for a similiar panel with blue & yellow glass — with a ‘hidden’ duck.

Since she planned on hanging it in front of French doors that spanned a long wall, we determined it should be fairly large — approx. 18″ x 27″.

Other than that, I had complete freedom in the design — I could just go with the flow of the glass.

Startup of Abstract Animals

I got stalled quite early with the first pieces.  I’d placed in a fairly large, dark blue shape that I wasn’t sure my client would like — I hummed & hawed for days over keeping the shape & the colour.

[Hmmm, turns out she especially likes the blue bubble glass!]  😎

But I was also stalled with the overall design — I simply wasn’t seeing a nice flow.

Then, I happened to be gazing at it from the other end of the board — oh, goodness, that looks like Lady, my black Labrador, in the corner.

I was stalled again.

Should I change direction & start building from the bottom up?

This is an abstract — should I keep such an obvious ‘picture’?  Or, is Lady really that obvious?

I placed in a couple more pieces & then found a really weirdly shaped one — hmmm, do I have a duck here?

Of course, I stalled again.

Again, this is an abstract — how obvious do I want this duck to be?  I told my client I would ‘hide’ a couple in here, not have a  large one popping right out.

But, it flowed & I liked it.

By the time I was done the section, I had a well-shaped duck’s head with a long yellow bill, & flapping wings on a slender body.

Too obvious?  I certainly hoped not.

Choosing Glass Pieces

When picking glass colours to go next to each other, I had to keep in mind a number of considerations:

  • the overall colour scheme was yellow & mid-range blues — no white, clear, or other colour;
  • the two yellow sheets I bought were of similar tone but one was opaque while the other was semi-opaque — they would appear different according to the type of light passing through;
  • I also bought a lighter & darker blue glass for a bit of contrast, so they were used sporatically — again, the light blue was opaque while the dark blue was semi, creating different looks according to the light;
  • one of the mid-blues had raised lines running through it — I mixed the direction among pieces for added texture;
  • every few inches, I would analyze digital photos for a balance in the colours — changing them to black & white was extremely helpful for me to check the amount of white space & ensure a balanced variability in grey tones.

Finishing with Unique Touches

I wanted some larger pieces to balance the small ones in the duck’s head & another animal was needed to balance the two at the bottom — a blue whale came to mind.

I’d discarded a piece of blue opaque earlier because it had a small swirl — a thinness — that was less opaque than the surrounding area, but I thought it would make a perfect eye for the whale.

Opinions from those I asked were definitely against it — I was stalled again.

For me, a highly interesting aspect of stained glass is the bubbles & swirls created in the production process.  Sometimes considered flaws, I think these little areas add an interesting uniqueness.

So, I decided to go ahead & use the piece — thus the whale gained an eye.  😉

When my last yellow glass piece broke into two while making my headboards [Project 7], I needed to add a piece of lead calm to connect them.

I soldered a metallic butterfly from a favourite broken pin onto the errant lead & still absolutely love it!

My first name, Vanessa, means butterfly in Greek & butterflies come with the dawn, my second name — thus a beautiful signature for my work.

Not sure if my client would like it, I checked with her.  She was firm — I was the artist & it was up to me, so . . .

I had this silver butterfly with glittery wings — perfect.

It certainly didn’t go as easily as the headboard one, but with a few *?&8* & !*?X*, along with quite a bit of solder, I finally got the butterfly to attach at the junction of 5 lead calm.

My client loves it !  😆

She says the butterfly makes the piece.

Overall, I spent about 40 hrs. in constructing the piece — cutting/grinding glass, making patterns, fitting lead calm, soldering, puttying, & cleaning — with another 10 hrs. in admin — discussions with client, cleaning cutting table, & taking photographs.

Incalculable hours were spent in gazing at said photographs, thinking about the design, & choosing the colour & shape of glass pieces.  [Not counting the weeks I was ill, the project spanned 2 months.]

My biggest time-waster was second-guessing myself — not listening to my instinct.

I constantly questioned whether my client would like it even though she had given me complete design freedom.  Turns out she loves the piece & said “it’s more than I even imagined”.  She thought I have “real talent”.


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How do you like it?  Do you like abstracts or would you rather see a defined scene?

Don’t you simply love the sparkling beauty when light shines through the glass?

Vanessa Dawne Studio of Design

Functional glass & wood art on Vancouver Isle


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