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Creating "Fault" - Insights into a Commission


I've you've been in the studio over the past couple of months, you’ve probably seen David working on our first major commission! This large work has challenged us in terms of scale and the combination of techniques involved. To make it, David took full advantage of all the opportunities that Glass Lab’s facilities can offer: glass painting, fusing, sandblasting, polishing, and laminating - as well as working on a larger scale than either of us could previously dream of doing

It started with a discussion - and a sketch. David listened to the clients talk about what they wanted and what they liked. Based on these discussions, he proposed a sketch:

The sketch then developed.

And - eventually - became the proposed design.

Rather than representing anything concrete, the piece is an exploration of various visual ideas. The idea of rift valleys and continental drift informed the basic structure. David also considered tensions between chaos and order, and harmonies of colours. The making was a balance between precise planning and spontaneous gestures.

One of the challenges was finding ways to re-create the nature of the sketch as closely as possible. The edges of the 'rift' were a particular challenge -- how would we create in glass the ragged edge of the original? This was solved in a couple of stages. First, David used our linisher to 'cut' into the edges of the glass. Second, he distressed it with a heavy use of our sandblaster.


Next, we needed to get an intensity of painterly colour. David tackled this in two layers. First, to get a pure, transparent colour, he fused coloured chips of glass, called "frits," to pieces of glass. These pieces are largely deep blue and purple -- though there are hidden bits of aqus, red and amberwaiting to be discovered.

Second, on another set of pieces of glass he used transparent enamels.

In the final piece the fused glass was adhered to the back of the piece and the painted pieces to the front. The complex interplay between the elements on the different layers -- though impossible to see in photographs -- provides an ongoing sense of wonder for the viewer.


To contrast the chaos of the 'rift', David conceived of orderly bands of pure colour across the piece. They provide both structure and vivid colours.


Part of the purpose of the piece was to create a visual barrier. So David added a layer of glass with a light wash of white enamel - enough to block a clear view, but not enough to dull the colours.


Unlike most stained glass windows, this piece is constructed entirely without lead. So, using a special adhesive, David carefully bonded all of the elements to both sides of a single piece of toughened glass.

We finally installed it this week in a private home in the area, to some very happy clients. We miss having it around the studio, but are pleased it’s found its home. And that we have space to tackle the next challenges!


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