I’m interested in telling stories, or at least in suggesting stories. The best pictures are the ones that you can puzzle over and imagine the story, or maybe imagine several stories all at once.
Stained glass has a long history of this kind of visual storytelling. It lends itself to being packed with symbol, character, and decoration. I’m trained as an oil painter and in a lot of ways I approach glass like I would a painting.
The unique challenge of glass painting is that each color has a different working property, so the paintings are layered according to their unique fusing temperature rather than appearance; reds and purples first, then black and brown, then green blue and yellow. Each piece of glass is painted front and back and kiln fired several times at different temperatures to develop the color and image. They are then assembled with lead and solder and put into custom made frames. This general approach hasn’t changed a lot since the days of the cathedral builders, we just have access to more materials now and we can fire glass in computer controlled electric kilns instead of wood burning ovens.
The appearance of the final glass piece shifts as the light shining on them or through them changes. They’ll look one way in the morning and completely different in the afternoon or from a different angle. Oil paintings don’t do that, but it’s one of the things I like about glass. Just like the illustrated stories that suggest something different every time you look at them, every time you see a glass piece in different light it’s a little bit changed and new.