When we finished the last three windows I decided that St. Mary's head was not up to the standard we achieved with all the other heads. So I had James repaint it. It was the first head James had painted and we were really at the beginning of the journey to decode Charlie Lawrences painting techniques. James must have painted Mary ten times before we even fired the first one. But when the other heads (all of which were painted multiple times) were finished they all had emotional depth that the Marys head was missing. So even though James had gone on to other jobs he came in and did this last head over.
Part of the problem was that when I blew the sketch up to full size it didn't have enough detail. I'm sure that was part of the problem first time around.
So I went back to Charlies preliminary sketches. There were a dozen or so, each one with a different gesture and affect. Charlie was a perfectionist. he drew Mary over and over - each time as a totally fresh sketch. No tracing the figure and changing one arm. Oh no! We're talking about a totally new idea every time. If the arm changes position all the drapes change too in order to balance the new gesture.I looked at each one carefully and in one of the last sketches before the final I found more clarification of what CZ's intent was. So I emailed the sketch to James and when he came in we talked it over. I wanted him to combine the two sketches using data from both to clarify the final. We talked about the emotional engagement the other heads created and how important this was to these window which were down at eye level.
So he worked on it for two days first making sketches of the trace line and then painting the head on glass. We put it in the kiln at the end of the day and fired it and left. the next day I pulled it out and popped it in the panel taping it in with scotch tape. I put the panel up and looked at it. The matte felt just the slightest bit too weak at the perimeter her face, but I wasn't sure. After looking at it all day I knew it needed one more hit. I called James and he said he had been worried about it lightening in the kiln too much. After it came out of the kiln this time it was perfect.
Off WIth her head!
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I've made a living in the stained glass field for over thirty years as artisan, manager and now, artist and studio owner. Now that I have a website please come and visit periodically and see what I'm up to. Maybe it will be a new church project, or a piece of work made purely for the love of glass. Or some news of Sycamore studio in the news. Join me on my glass path. Its better than streets of gold any day.