Workshop for Stained Glass Professionals

learn how to paint stained glass workshop

Glass painting workshop 2013

We had a great workshop last week, just three students, all with prior experience. Sandra Harris is knowledgeable in fusing and kiln-working and wanted to add glasspainting to her already broad repertoire of decorative techniques. Midge Scanlon and Karen Deets are both accomplished professionals who have operated their stained glass businesses for several decades. Midge works almost exclusively to commission and is an accomplished stained glass painter. She signed up for the workshop in the hope of finding a personal, more medieval style of figure painting. Karen wanted to learn glasspainting techniques that would complement her existing copperfoiled stained glass and expand the unique character of her work.

Five-day workshops begin on Sunday evening with dinner, introductions and slides. During this first session I take an inventory of each student’s experience and techniques, plus their goals for the week. Students are invited to show examples of their own work and/or artwork in any medium that inspires them. Past students have included animators, mosaic artists, painters, printmakers and stained glass people. There are no restrictions or prerequisites for my workshops, just a willingness to learn and the courage to explore unfamiliar artistic territory.

Last week’s first Powerpoint presentation was created for the AGG conference in Ashville NC. It documents the making of 12 raccons for an astronaut, a stained glass window for an Airstream space satellite  and explains the separate stages of my painting process and how I translated a collage of magazine illustrations into stained glass. The window, designed by NY artist Michael Oatman, is just a small part of his art installation “All Utopias Fell” at MASS MoCA. The following afternoon we visited the museum to see the window in situ.

On the Monday morning I started with specific instructions for mixing and thinning glasspaints with propylene glycol. All students were able to sign their name fluently in glasspaint with a fine pen by 10am. This is the test for successful preparation of glasspaint using my propylene glycol mixture. After this came exercises to develop greater ease and fluency with the medium using pen, brush and other applicators to create tracelines. The work was in the kiln by lunchtime.

learn how to paint stained glass workshop

After lunch I gave a demonstration of texture application techniques and everyone moved straight into second applications over the just-fired tracelines (I have a super-fast Hoaf Speedburn kiln). The rest of the week’s instruction included more demos; a Powerpoint that covered all four key aspects of stained glass design; sessions on kilns/firing and reinforcement bars (specifically requested); ongoing reviews; and work on individual projects.

My painting demos included the manipulation of wet painted textures; a ‘fur, feather and hair clinic'; cross-hatching into dry matte; flower and foliage techniques; creating textures that appear to recede; and wet matting techniques. This last item was of special interest and inspired the group to rearrange my customary sequence of “trace, texture matte” to suit their personal styles and objectives.

photo 5Karen Deets with the panel she designed, cut and painted during last week’s workshop.

Karen confidently applied trace and texture in one fell swoop, adding strength to the ‘traceline’ component while the paint was still wet. On the second firing she added finer texture in the background to make the scene appear to recede into the distance. She applied and manipulated a wet matte only minimally, so as to maintain the transparency and sparkle of the glass.

photo 2-1Sandra Harris printing texture that appears to recede into the distance.

Sandra learned that she wanted only the merest, most delicate traceline in her first firing, with bold blacks applied later as part of her texture stage. This made it easier for her to exploit the expressive mark-making abilities of the tools she chose. By week’s end she had figured out how to paint freestyle in a way that works beautifully with the coloured frits and confetti she uses in her work.

photo 1Midge Scanlon manipulating a wet matte. Below, a closeup of her work in progress.

learn how to paint stained glass workshops

Midge worked out how to achieve a bold, expressive quality to her tracelines pretty quickly, then went on to tackle her main objective: painting faces to match. I worked one-on-one with her, explaining methods for extracting the visual information  required to make stained glass portraits, and breaking it down into stages. Frustration, perseverence, and a supportive environment all played a part as Midge discovered a style and method that felt right for her. This involved laying a fine (almost invisible) matte over her tracelines to create a ‘toothed’ surface, then applying bold wet modeled mattes in a strong, confident manner.

Even though Jason Middlebrook’s plank was in progress throughout, cluttering up my studio, at the week’s end it was pretty much “Mission Accomplished” all round. Excellent work and a really enjoyable week.

Glazing the Middlebrook plank

Photos taken in the studio today, starting with tack-soldering the copper-foiled glass into the steel frame.

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and the flip side of the plank, with glass in place and ready to be soldered tomorrow morning.

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Plus one last photo of our fancy gloves…

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Read other posts about Jason Middlebrook‘s stained glass plank: the early drawings; welding and fabricating a steel armaturereinforcing the armature, cladding with copper foil, modeling the tree bark, taking templates and cutting glass.

Or come to Open Studio tomorrow, Friday Sept 5th, from 4-6pm

Open Studio Friday, Sept 5th 4-6pm

My latest artist collaboration: a stained glass plank for Jason Middlebrook. Come and visit my studio before it leaves for Chicago. All welcome (details below).

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photo 3 Above, still wrapping the armature with copper foil. Below, glasspainting.

Read other posts about Jason Middlebrook‘s stained glass plank: the early drawings; welding and fabricating a steel armaturereinforcing the armature, cladding with copper foil, modeling the tree bark, taking templates and cutting glass.

photo 4The glass on the left still has one layer of contact paper from the sandblasting. I’m painting enamel into the areas that were blasted.

photo 5Removing contact paper masks. After a little cleaning up, I kiln-fired each piece to fix the enamel permanently into the surface of the glass.

If you’re really interested, and live near enough, do come and visit my studio on Friday to see the plank before it leaves for Chicago.     Time: 4-6pm, Friday Sept 5th. Where: 359 Rue Madeline, Readsboro VT 05350. Email: or call me, area code 802, 423~5640.

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Steel & stained glass for Jason Middlebrook

photo 2Welding and grinding continues…

photo 4Richard has added reinforcing brackets at intervals around the perimeter of the armature according to the drawing to strengthen the whole armature and create a structure to support the bark of the plank.

Armature for stained glass plank; Jason Middlebrook and Debora CoombsNext, the bars, or “ferramenta” in stained glass lingo, which separate the painted glass panes. All have been cut and welded precisely according to Jason’s drawing.
photo 3The armature is complete.

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Next, I began wrapping every inch of steel with copper foil. See the ribbon-like perimeter with it’s reinforcing brackets.

photo 5I used 1/.4″ thick glass cut with an irregular chamfered edge to represent the outer cambium layer of the plank (between bark and wood). I wanted this to be flush with the surface of the glass panes. Concertina-like strips of bronze fill cavities in the armature to support the bark.

photo 5This was the first experimental section of the perimeter, copper-clad and sculpted with solder to resemble tree bark.

And here’s the glasscutting almost complete. I was engrossed and didn’t take photos…

photo 1-2..but Richard took a shot of me making the very last template.

photo 5-1Each pane was cut very precisely from a rubbing made from the armature.

Jason was excited to see the glass laid out over his drawing when he arrived on Thursday to start cutting masks for the sandblasting. Each pane was then sandblasted to create an incised area that was painted and kiln-fired with black glass stainers enamel.

photo 2-1Here’s the glass, laid over the cartoon. Today I’ve been glasspainting…. more photos to follow!

Glasspainting demo; gorgeous smooth, wet mixture

Here’s a very short video (146 seconds) showing how my glasspainting mixture allows for some sumptuous textural  and printmaking effects. On Aug 31st I’ll be teaching a 5-day glasspainting workshop that will explain my mixing procedure and techniques. I still have one place available if anyone is interested.

Dates: Aug 31 to Sept 5th. Cost $720. Location: southern Vermont (3 hrs from Boston, 4hrs from NY city). Go to the teaching pages of my website for more details. Please use the green NEXT buttons and scroll down to read all the text.

Thanks to Ginger Ferrell, who shot this sequence at the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts last summer, and the staff, colleagues and students who made it such a wonderful experience. I hope to teach there again some time.

Exhibition opens tomorrow

I’m pretty excited about this exhibition; first solo since London in 2009. Here’s a new panel on the bench, specially made for a little window in the gallery. It includes a portrait of British mathematician Sir Roger Penrose.

Portrait of Sir Roger Penrose and student in stained glass

All are welcome to the opening reception tomorrow, Weds July 25th, 5-6.30pm. We’ll be heading over to the Lion’s Den at the Red Lion Inn afterwards -it’s the nearest thing in Massachusetts to an old English pub!

The address: Lavender Door Gallery, 37 Main Street, Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The show will run until July 30th, open Mon-Fri 9-5.