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.
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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.

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8 thoughts on “Glasspainting in the Smokies

  1. This is really cool, Deb! I love seeing the different interpretations of the same cutline. And the fact that things are actually painted means your paint supplies must have made it to TN safe and sound…hooray!

    • Thanks for the advice Hope, to ship my paint to Arrowmont, and thanks for loan of the rolling duffle too. When I paid online for the check-in item I had to sign a declaration confirming that there were no prohibited items. The very first thing on Delta’s list was paint. Whew!

  2. What a wonderful, inspiring and fun week we all had!! Thank you Debora for all that you imparted to us! Thank you Ginger for keeping us on track and so carefully firing our work! I hope we all stay in touch as I am eager to see what grows out of all the new ideas!!

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