I spent 3 weeks as Artist in Residence at Carroll College in Helena, Montana in February working on the initial design concepts and preliminary drawings for five new stained glass windows. Since then I’ve been back in my studio making shop drawings, scale designs, supporting artwork and full-size drawings with specifications for building the stained glass. Below, work-in-progress on windows based on an analysis of the Medieval geometry of the San Damiano crucifix.
I’m doing an artist residency at the Studios at MASS MoCA right now and we’re having an Open Studio next Weds, Oct 19th, 5-7pm. You are cordially invited. I hope local folks will drop by. I’m one of 10 artists, location is on the MASS MoCA campus. More info and directions here. I’ll be showing math-based drawings, my stained glass tiling, and sculptural models made with computer scientist Duane Bailey this past summer,
Everyone is welcome, so please share if you wish. The Facebook event is at https://www.facebook.com/events/341789096165887/
This sculptural, low-relief “slice” of crystalline geometry is a mathematical projection from five-dimensions into three.
When you move from one dimension to another circles become ellipses and angles change. My sculpture mimics a plane cast obliquely through a grid of hypercubes showing the conjoined surfaces. Fragments of the square faces of hypercubes have become skewed into diamond shapes. The sculpture is made from just one identical repeating shape, a rhombus with diagonals in the Golden Ratio.
The painted glass tiles are assembled according to certain mathematical matching rules that I’ve coded into a Baroque design, carved into rubber and printed on the glass. Each tile is printed and kiln-fired with traditional stained glass enamels, then painted several more times before being wrapped in adhesive copper tape. The tiles are then soldered together to build the sculpture. Below, copper-foiled glass tiles stacked in boxes and a small section tack-soldered together.
The tiles fit together easily to form convex or concave rosettes with five ‘petals’. They also form groups of three, either shallow dishes or steeper ‘ears’. When the tiles are correctly conjoined my painted pattern flows through from tile to tile, creating a cohesive overall design. If each tile is also located correctly in three-dimensions the sculpture can grow infinitely without repeating itself, by simply adding more tiles.
When light is cast through the sculpture onto a parallel surface the stained glass projects a two-dimensional image of another geometric pattern. Discovered in the late 1970’s and called Penrose tiling, this pattern is made up from two different tiles. This also is beautiful and fascinating, and I have been obsessed with it since I was a post-grad student at the Royal College of Art in 1984.
I had the lovely opportunity to meet Sir Roger last year for lunch at Yale and show him my model for this sculpture. I also took a stained glass panel I’d made some years before with his famous tiling pattern in it. This was the last of my Menfolk series and the beginning of my full-time focus on stained glass geometry.
I’ve received a lot of encouragement along the way, especially from computer scientist Duane Bailey who has been researching Penrose tiling for decades. When I met Duane almost four years ago we were both working in two-dimensions. This past July we started working together in three.
We have built three sculptural models so far, each with over 500 tiles the size and shape of business cards. We have designed four more sculptures. Each uses colour to explore some particular aspect of the geometry.
The assembly was fiddly and time consuming, but well-worth the effort.
The reverse of the sculpture is beautiful too. Each tile is made from a plain folded business card, and the triangular folded-back corners cluster together like the petals of mountain laurel.
I learned such a lot about the this geometry. That it grows from seeds that change shape depending upon where you begin. That it has kingdoms, worms and skeps, and more rules called inflation hierarchies to be taken into account. The surface can fold up to nest over itself in curious ways.
Remarkably, this pattern also models the structure of quasicrystals, materials that exhibit long-range order at a molecular level but lack any of the classic symmetries that characterize conventional crystals. Quasicrystals are neither amorphous solids (like glass or plastic) or regular crystalline materials (like salt or diamonds). They exhibit a host of unusual physical properties and can be made to self-assemble from nanoparticles to make invisible materials.
Making life-sized models of molecular structures in glass is pretty neat, and building something by hand (rather than modeling on a computer) provides wonderful insights. It may be difficult to visualize a skewed five-dimensional cube being ‘projected’ into another dimension) but the relationship between sculpture and cast image is really quite simple, and elegant to witness.
My stained glass panel Ornithologist is hanging in The Shops at the Library Antiques in Williamstown as part of IS-183, the Art School of the Berkshires 25 year celebration Faculty Art Show. This delightfully unconventional exhibition takes place in various non-traditional gallery spaces up and down Spring Street in Williamstown Massachusetts.
Artwork by more than 75 artists from across our region will be on show until June 16. Maps will be provided at the opening reception on Saturday, May 21, from 4-6pm, at the Purple Pub. After that, visitors may pop into any participating venue, pick up a map and take a self-guided walking tour.
And… as a new member of the Vermont Glass Guild I am showing six of my stained glass panels alongside the work of 30 other Vermont and New England glass artists at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester, Vermont. All are from my seven-year long, 14-piece series Menfolk that explores the emotional landscape of men over time and in different circumstances. Included in the exhibition is Sir Edmund Hillary (below, detail). This was the subject of a lovely 13min video made by our son, Jack Criddle that documents my process, showing how each separate piece of glass is cut, painted, fired and assembled.
There will be an opening reception for “Modern Alchemy – The Art of Glass” in the Wilson Museum and Galleries at the Southern Vermont Art Center, in Manchester, VT on Friday, May 21, from 5 – 7pm. I’ll be there to greet visitors and get to know my fellow glass artists. The show will run through July 10, 2016.
September Stained Glass Design workshop: Step-by-step from idea to finished window
Do you know how to accurately measure a window opening; take templates; make full-size shop drawings? What if your window needs support bars or has curved perimeters? Are you consistent in coding perimeter lines to prevent installation errors? Is it easy to decide where to position bars and leadlines?
If you’re dedicated to making good stained glass but have answered ‘no’ to most of these questions, please note: I am offering a specialized drawing workshop that shows how to design and build stained glass windows according to a logical, repeatable, step-by-step process.
So how do you birth an idea? Well, drawing is fundamental.
Aside from imagery and subject matter, there are four key visual components to stained glass: colour, line, value and transparency. Exploring options in all these areas is an important part of the creative process, and it’s difficult to do this when ideas are still floating around inside your head. This is where design drawing comes in; making sketches, working to scale, drawing a cutline, and, in the case of painted stained glass, making a full-sized black and white drawing.
And how do you build a window that fits properly; is structurally sound; and works successfully within it’s architectural setting? Again, drawing is the key. It’s much easier to progress smoothly through the manufacturing process (saving time, materials and costly errors) when technical information is clearly set out on paper beforehand. These are called shop drawings.
Even if you use a computer to do artwork, learning the traditional design procedure, and understanding the purpose of various drawings, may be helpful. Teaching will be via Powerpoint presentation, hands-on drawing exercises and group discussion.
September 26-30th 2016 (5-day workshop) General info about workshops here.