Mountain Laurel

Mathematical art geometry raised 3D Penrose tiling by Debora Coombs & Duane Bailey at Williams College

Mountain Laurel (oblique view)

 

Mountain Laurel is one of three recently completed sculptures now on display in the Schow Science Library at Williams College. They show an area of three-dimensional Penrose tiling that continues to infinity in all directions. This ongoing series is a collaboration with my friend computer scientist Duane Bailey who has spent 30+ years investigating Penrose tiling. Our exhibition is called a.periodicity a mathematical term for this curious symmetry.

The sculptures are structurally identical -all precisely the same size and shape. But each is coloured differently according to some aspect of the mathematics. Mountain Laurel provides insight into the relationship between 2D and 3D versions of Penrose tiling.

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In two-dimensions Penrose tiling requires two different shapes to construct; a fat rhombus and a skinny rhombus. Although each tile in the sculpture is identical, Mountain Laurel codes them according to the shadow they would project onto a flat surface. Green tiles would project the shadow of a skinny rhombus in 2D. Pink tiles would create the shadow of a fat rhombus in 2D.

In all three sculptures, colour enables us to see unexpected shapes and patterns when the sculpture is viewed from different angles. Mountain Laurel is built from identical rhombi -the tiles are all the same shape – but the composition yields marvelously irregular patterns. Shapes and rhythms appear and disintegrate as you move around the sculpture.

 

The back of the sculpture provided its title Mountain Laurel. Here’s work in progress with binder clips and reverse-engineered clothes pins.

Aperiodic tilings are mathematical models for quasicrystals, physical solids that were discovered in 1982 by Dan Shechtman who subsequently won the Nobel prize for his work in 2011. I’ve also built them in stained glass, with mathematical rules encoded into the surface pattern.

 

 

 

 

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Exhibition of new work at Williams College

This week I hung three newly completed mathematical sculptures in the Schow Science Library at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. I’m excited to be able to share this new work, made in collaboration with computer scientist Duane Bailey. It’s the first public showing of our series of three-dimensional Penrose tilings. The exhibit is in the Schow Science Library and open extended hours. See Williams College Visitor Guide for location and directions. Contact me if you’d like a tour.

Photos above by Adam Kozik.

Below, assembling Cloaking Device.

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2018 stained glass design and painting workshops

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I am offering three 5-day workshops in September 2018 at my studio in Vermont. Here’s a schedule and some general information.

For those interested in scholarships, application deadlines for the American Glass Guild James C Whitney Memorial Scholarship is March 19th. And for the Stained Glass Association of America’s Dorothy L. Maddy Workshop/Seminar Scholarship and Albinas Elskus Scholarship the application deadline is April 13th.

September 10th-14th, TRACE & TEXTURE 5-day intro to GLASSPAINTING FOR ARTISTS is open to all. Excellent for artists in all/any media (not just stained glass). Tuition $860, includes lunches and materials.

September 17th-21st, STAINED GLASS DESIGN, STEP BY STEP, All levels. Tuition $825 includes lunches and materials. Check out this post Why Teach Stained Glass Design.

Sept 24th-28th, ADVANCED GLASSPAINTING  is a workshop for those wanting coaching on a specific project or glasspainting topic/subject; familiar with my techniques and wanting a refresher; or simply interested in taking their skills to the next level. Tuition $860, includes lunches and materials.

Above: painted glass on the light table from the Archie Hanna Memorial window at Trinity Episcopal in Branford Connecticut. I started this blog in April 2013 to share the entire process with the congregation. There are lots and lots of posts to read…

Closing in for Carroll College

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Final stages of glasspainting on the two clerestory windows for All Saints Chapel at Carroll College, Helena, Montana.

Glass painting (8 second time-lapse)

setting out ready to fire in the kiln (4 second time-lapse)

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The stained glass easel; why?

In the process of making stained glass there are two stages where the glass is easeled up against the daylight. First, when selecting glass, then later, when glasspainting. Easeling glass is time-consuming and thus expensive, so why do this?

Here’s my current work for All Saints Chapel at Carroll College in Helena Montana. Note how the opalescent glasses change at night/dusk. This is an effect that can only be estimated, whether on light table or easel, because my north-facing easel does not precisely mimic the light in Montana. The easel does, however, take out a lot of the guesswork.

 

 

Check a few older posts if you want to find out more about how and why glass is fixed to the easel, and watch the embedded video links. Stage one, selecting glass for colour, transparency/opacity and texture the English way, by fixing it to the clear glass easel plate with Plasticene; about choosing colour for a landscape window with figures; using beeswax and rosin (which fires off later in the kiln) in the process of  waxing up (fixing painted, fired  glass onto the easel for further layers of glasspaint); and details of a specific wet-matte technique that may be achieved with my https://coombscriddle.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/spreading-the-word-worldwide/proprietory propylene glycol mixture.

A spiraling sunshine of silverstain

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Yesterday was a spectacular day in the studio, working with my smart and lovely studio assistant, Katie Bullock.  I’m working with Oster’s Ancient Winchester silverstain fired face-up in my Hoaf Speedburn kiln to create a marvelous blue-tinged mirrored image that breathes a golden haze around each individual print.

Both the mirroring and areas of carefully chosen opalescent glass will be visible from inside the chapel after dark, when the rest of the stained glass goes black.

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Annotating the geometric layout to make it easier to print the repeating motifs onto glass.

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Katie printing multiples of the vesica pisces petal motif using the annotated grid as a guide. The petals are overlaid in a very specific fashion that results in a spiraling sunburst.

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Placing painted glass on trays ready to be fired. The silverstain looks opaque at this stage.

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Above, a tray of fired glass. Below, various reflections.

Thanks again a hundred-fold to Cliff Oster, who formulated this stain for me back in 2005 when I was working on stained glass for St Mary’s Cathedral in Portland, Oregon. I can control the colour density and value via different methods of application; or by altering the viscosity of the paint; or by shifting the proportions of water to propylene glycol in the paint thinning process. This one silverstain, Ancient Winchester, can create beautiful, transparent colour ranging from a ‘barely there’ pale lemon yellow to deep amber brown. I can also control (to some extent) the different levels of bleed and irridescence or mirroring by changing my kiln temperature and firing conditions. On top of all that, the clay carrier washes off easily and never sticks to the glass. In this particular application for Carroll College chapel the reverse of the glass (some of which may be seen closeup when the windows are installed) looks like mirrored copper.  We were made for each other, me and Ancient Winchester, and I never use any other silverstains.

More about my use of propylene glycol as a medium, my glasspainting Notes for Students, and other technical materials check these pages.

Carroll College: Go Saints!

Stained glass for Carroll College, Helena, Montana

Go Saints!