Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Three sheets to the wind - Experiments in glass design

I love outdoor glass and I like having it suspended in space, where it can catch great sun.
And great wind.

If you read my blog about the glass kites, you can see where that can become an issue.
But I was not willing to give in to the wind. I like the wind and wanted to make my art co-exist with it, rather than fight it.
I wanted designs that allowed the wind to cut through, rather than against the art.
A series of experimental panels seemed called for. I would make a number of large hanging panels, and vary the techniques and designs used.

I needed to learn about proper and sufficient anchoring. The openess of the design was the second issue. Just how open must it be, to avoid a fatal gust of wind?

The "Canyonlands" and "Prairie Clouds" series are designed as two triptychs, or series of three panels.

The simple designs are meant to give some similarity of line from panel to panel, while allowing me to use increasing swaths of open space in the designs as I moved from right to left.
You can see that they vary from just small slits, to openings about as big as your fist.

These catch a LOT of wind. They sway a bit in moderate breezes. But the way they flap in a 40+mph gale is not for the weak of heart.

Now it was time to explore the other end... just how open could I go?
The piece needs to hang together, in fair weather and foul. So I needed to learn more about just how to balance "strength and structure", with having an attractive design.
"The Tempest" and "Night Sentinels" were the far extreme.
"Night Sentinels" came first. and I had a small spot of separation in it after the first storm.
You can see it in the photo if you look closely.
Where the left-most red Sentinel touches the blue cyclone above it, the copper foil separated from the glass as the center of the piece saged 1/16".

"The Tempest" came next, and survived outside without mishap for over a year.

I had learned the outer limits of structural openness.

These two pieces remain among my personal favorites, and they served as "proof of concept" for an interesting series of outdoor glass panels.
They now are in the collection of my friend Tom McGowen in Memphis.

To double-check what I learned from earlier panels, I designed the "Marshside" triptych.

I had just gone camping with my dog, Heather. We had a nice little tent site at the edge of a small marshy pond.

Frogs and birds aplenty.
So "Marshside" helps capture that setting and bring it back to my porch.

The openness has some good aesthetic qualities. It attracts the eye to, and then through itself.

It helps to anchor my art visually, making it a part of the environment; interacting with it instead of standing apart.

You can enjoy watching the clouds scud by.

I especially like seeing the trees sway in the breeze, while looking through my glass panels.

Or watching a bird swoop and perch on a nearby branch.

The smallest birds actually perch/flit on the green bowl-shaped piece at the far left of this panel, titled "Marshside Left".
Two years of experiments and careful observation have paid off. I now have some beautiful glass panels that barely sway in the gales. They improve my outlook during all four seasons.
Email me if you want garden panels like this. They may improve your outlook too.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Migratory Art - Free Range Glass

Most stained glass lives a tame, domesticated life atop your lamps or staring wistfully out of your windows.

Feral Glass runs wild on legs of brass.

I notice that my art seems happiest when travelling in small herds. We see a few pieces here, which have ventured out of the garden and into a clearing to enjoy a sunny afternoon.

You can tell it is Fall, and their bright coloration makes them stand out more, as the summer's growth fades back. Good thing they have no natural predators. Even my dog keeps out of their way.

Mixed herds are not uncommon. In the top photo you see a small red Lawn Dot has joined the taller Garden Spirits.

In the second photo you can see a Double Ejecta in the foreground and a blue Lawn Dot on the other side of the herd.

Feral Glass and other forms of free range art is meant to liberate your spirit as well as the art work. Put art in unexpected places.

It is common to spend $250 for a painting to decorate one wall. For less than that, you can have a small herd of art grazing in your lawn or garden.

Improve your Outlook

Provide Color and Form All Year Round
You can see here how they come together for company in the coldest months. They prefer a lot of sunlight, and really glow out there in the snowfields.
The largest herds of Feral Glass are to be found in Virgina, though their natural range is the entire United States and Canada. Sizeable herds have been established in Oklahoma, Texas and New Hampshire, and small numbers are being introduced into other states as you read this. Soon they will be in Europe.
Won't you please help them in their migration?

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Feral Glass, Free Range Art and Migratory Art are trademarks of Feral Glass.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Glass Kites - Is Gravity Our Friend ?

I will insert some photos of the stained glass kites I made and tell the tale of woe.

Garden glass up in the sky. Catching the full sun or floating gently in the shade. But rugged enough to withstand the storms and tempests. That's where the idea began.

I made several sizes of kites in the basic kite shape such as the one to the right (titled "Storm Kite"). The proportions of height to width affected their aesthetics and their aerodynamics. I always hung them at a jaunty angle, just as they would be in the sky.

They were all regular kite size. From 21" - 28" tall and 16" -24" wide. I hung them on chain, with a heavy-duty brass fishing swivel. And they looked grand.

I also did a nice box kite. It was my first experiment with exposing different metals to the elements. In "Box Kite" I tried aluminum and steel as well as brass.

I learned a lot about anchoring in solder joints and how different reinforcing materials worked. I also experimented with the different glass finishes they sell. Most products are designed for indoor use, and I had to figure in UV exposure. So I'd try different things and watch for a year.

We had several hurricane remnants roar through the Blue Ridge Mts. during this two year test period. We had winds of 35mph numerous times, and got up to 55+ one day. The kites danced and swang and flashed around in arcs.

The storms tested the kites. But I liked them best on those afternoons with soft breezes, as they twisted around on their swivels, winking diamonds of light.

Alas, the truth began to emerge. The fatal flaw in the whole Glass Kite endeavor. Trees provide shade, and stained glass looks best in the sun.

At first I had a few prime branches that were the perfect anchoring sites. High enough off the ground, extending out away from the tree into the sun, not surrounded by other branches, and stout enough to lean my extension ladder against.

That lucky combination proved both short-lived and rare. The branches that are not surrounded by others are usually the last branches to go from a diseased side trunk. A good strong wind and the cradle will fall. Or the kite in this instance. I lost more glass kites to limb failure than to structural problems with the kites.

So I now have no limbs that would be good, sunny spots. If I had a cherry picker/bucket lift, I would do some cables between trees. But then I'd have the headache of tree sway. Well.... into the design book for later.

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Garden Glass on Etsy

I have just started to set up a web presence for my glass and brass outdoor sculpture. I will write here about the resources I find and how it effects my art and my sales. At the onset, I am a babe in the woods. That won't last long, I hope.
I had the good fortune to hear about from a fellow crafter. I would still be floundering (well....okay... ..floundering more than I am). The other artists at etsy are very creative and very helpful to newbies. I am blessed to have found such a vibrant and supportive community. Handcrafters all.
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I have been making unique outdoor glass and brass sculpture for a couple of years. A lot of trial and error in discovering the balance between the openness of the designs and the structural strength of the piece.

I now sell my work on

People have asked me to create a blog, so that they can learn more about my techniques and my designs. Please bear with me while I learn about making a nice blog. Great photos will appear soon. In the meantime, check out or look at the albums in

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