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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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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