Pics and a video from Arrowmont

Last week’s Arrowmont workshop included slide presentations, design seminars, instructions on mixing, thinning and applying glasspaints and several painting demos.  You can also watch a brief (2.5 minute) video of me painting basket weave with my fingers and printing with plants. Enjoy!

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This next slideshow shares some of the work completed by students last week. All photos by either Ginger Ferrell or Laura Goff Parham. Thanks both!

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I just have to end with this picture, taken behind my back (ha ha) by my long-suffering Teaching Assistant, Ginger Ferrell. Thanks Ginger for minding the kilns and taking some lovely photos.

early morning yoga

early morning yoga

I had a really great week at Arrowmont. My mornings started at 7am with yoga on the screened porch with Jean Campbell, one of the nine other instructors.

I got a real buzz from being in such an intensely creative community – the staff, faculty and students at Arrowmont. I came home energized with creative batteries recharged. I’ve already started planning my next series of stained glass exhibition panels and looking for somewhere to exhibit new work in the spring.

There are classes scheduled at Arrowmont right up until the end of October.

class photo

class photo

Glasspainting in the Smokies

I just got back from a week’s teaching at the fabulous Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts in Gatlinburg Tennessee beside the Great Smoky Mountains of Appalachia.

Eight lovely students, a spacious and well-appointed studio, beautiful campus, great food (wild blueberries for breakfast) and the most helpful staff imaginable.

I had three goals for my students: to explore the relationship between leadlines and paint; learn how to translate a drawing or photograph into stained glass; and to mix, thin, paint and print glasspaints using propylene glycol.

These were the initial Rorschach-like sketches.

In our first exercise students created a design for a pre-cut panel that would integrate the leadline completely into the picture. I had drawn a random cutline (a pattern of leadlines) which students used as a sort of Rorschach test. Everyone drew over the same lines for about 20 minutes. We ended up with an owl, cityscape, fish, a bowl of fruit, trees, various abstractions and an elephant!

Sketches in 2 layers.

Students created new sketches in 2 layers. First, tracelines (solid, black, calligraphic lines) which we xeroxed before adding shading/texture. The goal was to integrate the lead into the design so that it no longer looked like grout between tiles.

A couple of days and kiln-firings later the glass is painted and ready to be assembled. There are two different colour combinations (gold or blue) both with the same cutlines. Within each set the colours, shades and types of glass are identical.

As the week progressed students began glasspainting using their own reference material. I will post more photos of their extraordinary work very shortly.

Easel painting prep

Today I fixed all the little pieces of painted glass back onto clear glass easel plates with a mixture of beeswax and rosin ready for final glasspainting up against the daylight. This is where I add any final shading and adjust transparency where needed.

We made two very quick videos of the process for all those stained glass technique junkies….
waxing up a panel (68 seconds) and
putting the glass back onto the easel (22 seconds)

Here’s another panel, partly laid out on a glass easel plate prior to waxing up.



I have to end with a more interesting photo because I never know whether Facebook will choose my first or my last photo to post to my Page. If there’s anyone out there who can tell me how to control this please do!


Another milestone…

Glasspainting on the lightbox is now complete. Hurrah! Here’s one of the last panels I finished, with the little girl in her blue dress. You can check back and see some photos of her at an earlier stage with just tracelines and one layer of matte.
Connie, ready to lead up

Watch me painting roses!

Moving ahead on the amateur video front: Painting rugosa roses in real time.

Since I do not know how to edit my movie I’m posting still photos too, starting with a camera’s eye view of my work space with cartoon in the background (full-size drawing) and dozens of pieces of partially painted glass on the light table.


If I switch the overhead light on and turn off the light table you can see my tools, paint and transparent-bottomed tray full of glass. Notice also the real rose, plucked from my garden this afternoon, in a vase beside my glasspaint.

Next, the video….

I am adding a second layer of paint to create a soft texture and some modeling to the roses. This layer goes on top of the first layer of sumi-esque, calligraphic painting (the tracelines), painted and fired a few weeks back.


Notice that the roses on the right have only tracelines (the Fred Flintstone phase). The roses on the left have a second layer as well.

The thimbleberry flowers can also be seen at both stages, with tracelines only on the spray at the bottom and two layers of paint on the upper spray of flowers. These will become much, much brighter before they go in the kiln though. I will brush back (remove) the unfired glasspaint to reveal highlights on the petals.

In the last photo you can see the second layer of glasspainting in detail. The larger piece of pink glass I just painted on the video is right in the middle.


Glasspainting full throttle…

…and closing in on the finish line for Trinity Episcopal.

Learn how to paint stained glass in Vermont and Tennessee with Debora Coombs, summer 2013.

Badger hair brushes, glasspainting tools and equipment for summer workshops in Tennessee and Vermont

I’ve been preparing for summer workshops in Vermont and Tennessee and working a rock festival in Massachusetts with my husband and children, Jack and Phyllis.

Coombs Criddle family photographed at MASS MoCA during the Solid Sound Festival 2013

Wilco workers, from left to right: independent filmmaker Jack Criddle; MASS MoCA’s Director of Art Installation and Fabrication, Richard Criddle; a small volunteer (!); and MASS MoCA’s Retail Manager/Buyer, Phyllis Criddle. Photographed on site during the Solid Sound Festival 2013.

Now I’m back to full throttle glasspainting and closing in on the finish line at last.

Today, with the exception of roses, rocks and thimbleberries, every piece of glass has been fired in the kiln at least twice. Five of the seven figures are finished. Two figures have their final mattes applied and are waiting to be brushed back and fired for the last time. The elderly gentleman’s gray hair still needs shadows, and Joseph’s is about to be fired a shade darker. I have lost count of how often each head, hand and little foot has been in and out of the kiln, but it must be around 5 or 6 times by now. Here you can see some final layers of sepia (on Mary), bistre brown (Jesus) and a bistre/black mix (everywhere else) photographed last week whilst still unfired, and almost ready to go back into the kiln. See how dusty the paint looks in reflected light.


I’m saving the roses and thimbleberries in the foreground for the very end because they are such a delight to paint. When these are done I will wax up all 1,118 pieces of glass back onto easel plates for glasspainting up against natural light. This is how I check for the perfect balance of transparency and opacity, and make final adjustments to the matting/shading to accommodate the strength of real daylight and changing lighting conditions. It will also be a joy to see the real sparkle of the glass once again and the true colours of the window.

We’ve worked out how to make short videos of me glasspainting (thankyou Jack!).

For an even closer zoom into the studio, here’s my latest punch list. Motoring through indeed!

Debora Coombs Stained Glass designer and painter