Monday, 14 August 2017

Bedroom door: Wood, copper and zinc

When I was designing our house, I planned for etched glass doors in the bathrooms (see my July 2013 post on those doors) and thought I would do something related to those designs for the adjacent bedroom doors.

My wife really likes the bathroom doors, but was quick and clear to state that she didn't want light coming through the bedroom door! Oh. I was literally back at the drawing board.

So I worked up an idea I had been thinking about as a variation on glass doors. Using 3mm (1/8") thick birch plywood with the traditional zinc channels (called "cames" in the stained glass industry) used for leaded glass, I could make a panel to insert into the door that was opaque and had many options for design. The final design included copper and zinc cames along with an opaque black glass with the stained and varnished wood.

The solid black glass is a nice contrast to the wood, adding a glossy surface to reflect light (even some green from the gardens!). The copper has a warm tome that will darken with age, adding more contrast between the different metals.

Traditionally constructed stained glass doors (or with clear or beveled glass) often used zinc cames. I have repaired some that were 75 years or more old, as the solder joints get fatigued over years of use and then crack, making a weak spot in the panel. One factor for that is the weight of the glass itself flexes the door panel as it is swung closed. Rather than try to make a really rigid door panel, experience has lead to allowing the door to flex a little, which avoids breaking the glass if the door is closed abruptly. If broken solder joints allow too much flex, then the glass can break - which is usually why I have been repairing them.

This door, being made mostly with a thin wood, is very light and will flex less than a similar design  made with all glass. This should allow it to remain intact for many years of use.

And it definitely stops the light from getting through..

Thursday, 2 March 2017

"A moment in time"

The last year has been busy, a lot of that time being taken up by this glass wall installation that I recently completed.

"A moment in time" is installed at the Sacred Space room at the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, B.C., Canada. Located on the first floor of the hospital, it is open to the public 24 hours a day.

As with any installation, details can take much more time than initially anticipated. When the project is larger, these details are multiplied and can add weeks or months to complete. One detail (that is invisible to the viewer) is the horizontal join between the stained glass panels. In wanting to make this as narrow as possible, I worked through several design ideas before deciding on soldering several 1/8" X 3/8" (.31cm X .92cm) brass bars into a "T" formation, giving enough strength to stiffen the edge of the glass panels, without being too visually distracting. This is covered with an extra zinc border channel laminated onto the lower edge of the upper panel.

Another detail that took longer was the join between the bottom etched glass pieces (3/4" / 19mm thick) and the lower stained glass panels. As this is not standard interface of glass panels, the fitting of the lead to the sculpted edge of the etched glass to meet the stained glass took some effort to fit together. I am happy with the resulting effect of the exposed part of the etched glass being able to catch the light and reflect the patterns from the polished, faceted edge of the etched glass.

In preparation for installing the glass, I had to remove a view obscuring vinyl that was in place since the room was built. This was much more difficult to remove than I had anticipated. I learned a technique of wetting the vinyl with soap and water and covering it for a couple of hours.This worked  better than trying to do it "dry", but was still a chore to remove.

Looking at the completed project, I am very happy with the results. As with all stained glass, the balance of interior to exterior illumination highlights the variable aspects of colour and texture of the different glasses. Anticipating the effects of different lighting is part of the challenge and joy of working with glass.

It was a rare privilege to have the opportunity to create a large scale art glass installation in Kamloops. I hope the public recognizes and appreciates the support to public art by the Royal Inland Hospital Foundation and enjoys this space for years to come.

Artist's Statement on Design:

This gathering space has been in use for seven years as a place for healing, recovery and celebration of those moments in time when lives are altered, for any and all members of our community.

These cycles of life and the forces that bring them into being are reflected in the "wave form" that flows through the colours and form lines of the stained glass. These shapes also relate to the physical landscape of the hills and valleys we live our lives in.

The lower section of etched and carved glass represents the glacial past; the ice with its inclusions of rock and debris that carved out those hills and valleys, referencing the forces that shape our lives, with the grit and toil of every event we live through.

As a pebble dropped in a pond (visually represented by the rounded shapes carved into the "glacial glass"), the effects of life's events ripple out to change ourselves and our communities - from "A moment in time".