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.


Armature for a Plank

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It’s not so much an armature, but rather a beautiful steel sculpture that I will be filling with stained glass according to Jason Middlebrook‘s design for “Cottonwood Plank“.

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I’d made cardboard templates from my earlier drawing of the plank, and my first task was to transfer this onto the welding table with chalk.

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Richard started re-creating the drawing with a ribbon of 2 inch by 1/8 inch cold-rolled steel flat-stock. Richard tacked a short length of angle-iron to the table to hold the bottom of the plank in place. He then welded the beginning of our flat-bar to the angle iron and we started cold-working the flat-bar, curve by curve, according to the drawing. We figured out a technique that was a lot like leading up a stained glass window, but with steel instead of lead. Richard tacked bolts and scraps of angle iron to the table to secure the curves, one by one, as we made our way around the perimeter of the drawing.

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It was important to try not to weld the flat-stock ‘ribbon’ itself to the table!

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Sculptor, Richard Criddle striking an arc with MIG welder in the background.

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We gently levered the flat-stock ‘ribbon’ out of it’s jig, which you can see here still welded to the table.

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Someone asked how we got the jig off the welding table when we’d finished, well… tediously! It took over an hour to smack off the bolts and pieces of angle iron and grind the surface back smooth. Jason stopped by a few days later to see how his piece was progressing. For Bostonians, there’s a lovely Middlebrook to be seen at the entrance to the exhibition Expanding the Field of Painting at the ICA.

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A stained glass plank for Jason Middlebrook


Another artist collaboration to keep me on my toes: making a stained glass plank (yes, that’s a length-wise cross-sectional slab of tree) for Jason Middlebrook. He’s been working on a series of very lovely, abstract, painted wood planks for several years, and recently started to work in different media, including concrete, bronze and now, stained glass.

As a test, I cut up an old stained glass window to see if I could give it some depth and texture to look like tree bark. Crumpled, soldered copper foil over a sturdy mosaic of mirror eventually did the job quite well.




Jason loved the sample, and turned up at my studio soon after with a beautiful cottonwood plank almost 9ft tall that was to be our model, the specific plank I would be re-creating.


My first drawing shows the place where the cross-section of the inner bark meets the wood proper. It’s a smooth darker area that’s flush with the surface of the plank. A welded steel armature will follow the bumps and curves of this line.




Then I made a wax rubbing of the edge of the plank where the bark begins to slope away.


I set Jason up with some narrow strips of black masking tape and he started drawing out the major breaks.


Here’s the partially completed cartoon (there will be a lot more linework) and the cutlines. Jason Middlebrook’s exhibition at MASS MoCA is up for another week (’til April 6th) and well worth a visit.

Uncertain Beauty

IMG_7697Photo: Olympia Shannon

Darren Waterston’s exhibition Uncertain Beauty, of paintings, studies and drawings alongside his major installation, Filthy Lucre (above) opened today at MASS MoCA. It’s a wonderful exhibition and well worth a visit. Below, Darren is working on a mural of fighting peacocks that represent the artist James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) and his patron, British shipping magnate Frederick Leyland. Here’s a link to an article in the Berkshire Eagle that explains more about Filthy Lucre. It’s a complex and thoughtful work of art.

IMG_7708Photo: Olympia Shannon

I was onsite at MASS MoCA for just a few weeks, faux-painting interior surfaces and creating gold texture on  spindly wooden shelving supports. I used my standard glasspainting tools and techniques with with thick acrylic. It drove my mark-making up a notch, literally, into the third dimension; applying paint with a trowel, then combing and tooling to create rhythmic, low-relief patterns that catch and scatter the light from the stained glass lamps.

The lamps were my major contribution to this installation. Like everything else inside Filthy Lucre  the design is loosely based on Whistler’s 19th century original. Darren did the glasspainting himself during a visit to my studio.

Around a dozen artists and artisans worked alongside MASS MoCA’s phenomenal in-house art fabrication team (of course, I’m biased!) over a 8 month period on the creation of Filthy Lucre. Here’s my very own Richard Criddle and his crew installing the ceiling and lamps.

IMG_7091Photo: Olympia Shannon

IMG_7093Photo: Olympia Shannon


Thanks to MASS MoCA’s Olympia Shannon for some lovely photos. There are more on Darren Waterston’s own blog about the making of Filthy Lucre, and his website darrenwaterston.com


What: Uncertain Beauty – art by Darren Waterston featuring Filthy Lucre, a recreation of James McNeill Whistler’s Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room.

Where: Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
1040 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, Massachusetts
March 8, 2014 – February 1, 2015
Opening Reception: March 29, 2013

Performance by Filthy Lucre soundscape composers BETTY: Saturday, March 22, 8pm
Artist talk: Thursday, August 7, 6pm

Filthy Lucre will travel to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, opening July 1, 2015

Sept ’14 workshop and scholarship deadlines

Hi everyone, I’ll be teaching a 6-Day Stained Glass Painting Workshop in Vermont August 31st – Sept 6th, 2014. Scholarship are available from the Stained Glass Association of America (scroll down for info). US and international students may apply. The SGAA scholarship deadline is April 13th 2014. Workshop places allocated on a first-come first-served basis. Max 6 students.


The workshop begins on a Sunday night with dinner and slides, and runs Mon through Friday. The location is my studio in Readsboro, southern Vermont. Tuition is $720 plus a small materials fee. This includes lunches and snacks.

Students will learn how to mix, thin, and apply kiln-fired lead-free paints with an inexpensive, non-toxic food additive, plus techniques that enable lively, expressive trace-lines, printed effects using lace, plastic and rubber tools, and how to create faux textures such as stone, wood, fur and fabric. We start with group exercises that explore innovative methods of application, and then move swiftly on to individual projects. Students who wish may work on self-portraits.

My glasspainting techniques make it easy to achieve beautiful results, even for beginners. These intensive workshop are also really helpful for experienced glasspainters who want to develop greater ease and fluency. Class size is small, with a lot of individual attention.

See photos of past student work by scrolling through the Teaching folder on my website (use the little green NEXT buttons). Hours, lodgings, fees and more and location here.

Scholarship are available to both US and international students from the SGAA and the AGG (their 2014 deadline has already passed). Both organizations have generously supported my students in the past. The Stained Glass Association of America DEADLINE is APRIL 13th, 2014

Lamps for Filthy Lucre


Hurrah! I finished assembling the lamps for Filthy Lucre this afternoon. Above: 296 pieces of hand-painted glass, framed and soldered into brass channel.


Initial attempts at attaching the top sections inside a salad bowl…


…with masking tape holding the pieces of glass together.


Moving on to a cut-down 5 gallon plastic bucket and some masking tape; Necessity is the mother of invention! With some jig-sawed plywood (circle inside, and octagon on top) we made a perfect jig for soldering.


More plastic bucket, cut into bands to hold the center barrel of the lamp together. I bought a little Hakko 601 soldering iron that would fit inside the lamps for finishing the final seams. At this point everything is just tacked with blobs on the corners. I’m using 60/40 solder which seems to work just great with the brass.

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Beginning to run solder the lengths of the seams. Notice the little jig screwed to the bench in the foreground for bordering the smallest pieces of glass. Also boxes of short brass channel.

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This is the bottom of the lamp (upside-down on the table), where one removable pane will be positioned for ease of changing light bulbs. The L-shaped lip, soldered from eight pieces, has to be perfectly flat to hold the loose pane neatly in position. Calculating the exact size of each loose-fitting pane took a little experimentation. It had to fit through the opening edgewise, turned to lay flush with the brass lip, and then stay there without falling out.

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Trying not to inhale zinc fumes given off when soldering brass.

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Awkward! All soldering must be done on the inside so that the exterior remains brass. The gold colour is all part of the spirit of Filthy Lucre.

photo 3The first lamp completed, with a lathe-turned poplar ‘neck’ that provides a conduit for the wiring.

Period Lighting Fixtures of Clarksburg, Massachusetts sheared and crimped all the brass channel for me , and Chris Burda (my lamp building guru) advised on techniques and procedure. I learned a lot!

Filthy Lucre is the major artwork in Darren Waterstone’s upcoming exhibition Uncertain Beauty at MASS MoCA. Watch 2 min video with photos of Whistler’s original and some of Darren’s drawings, or  his interview with Berkshire Fine Arts.