I was commissioned to create a special piece for a local Infants Schoolís calm garden based on characters from their very own book.
"Enjoyed every day by all who pass through the school gates"I was contacted by the school after they had seen my stained glass and wood sculptures on my website and wanted one for the children to enjoy in their calm garden. Each one was commissioned by a client where they had chosen elements of the landscape, objects, animals or even hobbies that have special meaning to them which informed my colourful stained glass designs framed in locally sourced redwood.
I visited the school for a tour around the garden and listen to the wonderful story of how the garden reflected the school values that have been written down and illustrated by a member of staff. What a fabulous way to bring these values to life. Everywhere you go is furnished by reminders of Iris the butterfly, who is the main character and her friends.
I spend some time today the stories on the school website to get a sense of the characters so I can bring them to life in my work.
Dimensions taken to ensure the frame will fit into the area the piece was to go, I chose and cut the wood from a large plank. The hole cut had to be big enough for the intricate design and to show off the colours of the glass leaving a chunky frame on the outside following the grain to maintain the character and rich colours of the varnished wood.
The characters started to take shape with Ethel the snail with her colourful green and a shimmering iridescent glass shell, topped off with a happy smile.
After choosing Ethelís glass, I used my glass cutter to score the lines from the pattern I had drawn using the wonderful Tales from the Burrows illustrations as a guide. I used my grozing pliers to snap the glass along the score line and my grinder to smooth the edges because glass can be very sharp and I donít want to cut my fingers and also to make sure all the pieces fit snug as a bug in a rug!
I outlined each piece in sticky backed copper foil tape, also known as the ĎTiffanyí method which is a technique used to make those wonderful Tiffany lamps you can find in the shops and in nice houses.
Each piece is placed together like a jigsaw and soldered together using a solder iron and a special solder to make the seams raised and shiny. Just like washing your hands, it is important to clean off any left over flux which is the liquid used to make the solder flow. If you donít clean it off properly, it will spoil the solder seam. The same method was used to create Cornelius the Ant and Eberhardt the spider.
Once the characters were created, the background scene started to take shape
The final step was to fit the glass panel into the frame which has 3 coats of varnish.
I also created a little base so that the piece can be brought indoors when itís icy outside.
The finished piece was delivered safe and sound to the school for the staff and children to enjoy. From the reaction I got from the staff, it was clear to see that this special piece will be enjoyed every day by all who pass through the school gates.
It gave me great pleasure to work on this project.
From the disappointment of a vandalised school garden to squeals of excitement from the children and staff who asked me to turn their school story into a beautiful stained glass and wood sculpture for all to enjoy. The full story with pictures of the piece being created are available on my website
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