I’m sure you have looked at some things and think “How do they do that?”
Stained glass is one of those art media I know nothing about, but love being in that prism of colored space. Being around light and colors is like swimming in optimism that it’s hard not to stay in that light for as long as possible. Stay long enough and I’d start to notice the lead came lines that had been carefully worked into the stained glass design. Clearly, it’s an art form that requires design skills to conceive a workable design as well as engineering skills to assemble the pieces together, which are both totally up my creative alley. So, I’ve always wanted to learn how stained glass is done.
Luckily for me, my adopted (long story) uncle Howard, a local award-wining stained glass artist, contacted me (out of the blue) and asked to collaborate on a project. He thought it’d be a good opportunity for me to learn. I agreed!
The project is for an elementary school’s library window, a horizontal panel of about 15 inches high and 70 inches long. It will reside above the main door. I started sketching and designing right away, really excited about all the literary references I could include.
The project is for the elementary school kids, the PTA who are paying for it (stakeholders), and the general public who may visit the school library.
Sketches & Design
With considerations to the children, the parents and location of the door, I started with a few thumbnail sketches. Then, I chose three concepts to explore further:
Sketch #1 – I was really inspired by Susan Jeffers’s book All The Pretty Horses that I found in our library, dated 1974! The illustrations are stunning, and the little girl in me was transported to a HUGE sunflower field. You see that big sunflower on the right, there? I had a little girl laying on it reading a book but she was too small and got kinda lost so I took her out.
Sketch #2 – From sketch #1 I really liked the little girl reading on the sunflower so I decided to push that concept further here. Then, I have this entire landscape to fill up with anything I wanted. I started thinking about all of my favorite children’s books: Oliver Jeffers’s Lost and Found, Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland, Shaun Tan’s The Arrival and Helen Ward’s Unwitting Wisdom, an anthology of Aesop’s Fables
Sketch #3 – Since this panel is above the library’s main entrance, I thought it could be a portal, taking one’s imagination from one place to the next. This concept was inspired by The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, one of my favorite illustrated books. I was really inspired by the art on the cover as well as the architecture of the train station, an art nouveau style with lots of light and glass. This design is a bit more abstract and graphical.
After much deliberation between uncle Howard and I, sketch #2 is our favorite and we think that children can easily relate to, from a distance. We decided to continue to push the design and marry fantasy with dreams and professions. Then, we revise, revise, revise until it’s a workable stained glass design. I will share the final version once we get client approval, and will try to document my learning process here, so stay tuned.