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Monday, 19 May 2014

Dragon and Girl Leaded Up!

Hi all! Over the weekend I finally got my Dragon and Girl piece leaded up.

Dragon and Girl stained glass by Maria McMahon, 2014


My (amazing, talented, wonderful, and - most importantly - very patient) teacher Brian Waugh helped a lot with this process and basically prevented me (very helpfully) from making a complete botch of it. As I would almost certainly have done if I'd attempted it on my own!

Those are Brian's hands. Not pictured: Your Narrator, in fetal position on the floor, wailing.

It was a very tricky leading up job, as the acid etching and multiple firings had made some of the pieces of the glass shrink and change shape. There was lots of grinding involved and it took us several hours to get the job done.


A very tricky leading process due to glass shrinkage from multiple firings

Can I just say that, while I like the piece and everything, I'm kind of tired of looking at it? It seems like I've been working on it for the past few ages! (OK, OK, so I have been working on it for the past few ages.) That being said, I am pretty pleased with the way it came out. I felt I didn't do too bad a job of the soldering. The leafy border is nice.

Leafy Border detail, Dragon and Girl stained glass piece by Maria McMahon

 Here are some more detail shots:

Girl detail, Dragon and Girl stained glass piece by Maria McMahon, 2014

Dragon detail, Dragon and Girl stained glass piece by Maria McMahon

All that still needs to be done is to cement it, give it a final cleaning, and get a frame contructed for it. The Scotsman has very kindly agreed to make the frame. Best husband ever!

Then, hopefully I'll be able to wheedle somebody into buying it. Anybody wanna buy it? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?


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Monday, 28 April 2014

Dragon and Girl: Ready to Lead Up, and Metropolis Beginnings

Hi all! Long time no write. Darn this having to work for a living thing, it sure does get in the way of my glass hobby!

I've been able to get into the glass studio sporadically on weekends, and have finally finished the last layers of paint and enamel on my Dragon and Girl piece. Now it's ready to be leaded up, and then maybe someone will want to buy it (ha ha.) Anyone want to buy some stained glass? (wheedle)

Dragon and Girl: acid-etched, painted, enamelled, and fired glass. By Maria McMahon, 2014
Dragon and Girl: acid-etched, painted, enamelled, and fired glass. By Maria McMahon, 2014

I used amber and then ruby red enamel on the dragon, which came out a nice kind of bronze colour over the brown paint. The little girl's hair is amber enamel, and her flowers are blue, amber, and ruby red enamel.

You want some close-ups? Here you go!

Detail, Dragon and Girl: acid-etched, painted, enamelled, and fired glass. By Maria McMahon, 2014
Detail, Dragon and Girl: acid-etched, painted, enamelled, and fired glass. By Maria McMahon, 2014
Detail, leafy border, Dragon and Girl: acid-etched, painted, enamelled, and fired glass. By Maria McMahon, 2014
And now on to my new piece. It's inspired by the classic 1927 ur-science fiction film "Metropolis" and its iconic robot poster. Here's the poster:



I started with smooth amber Cathedral glass. The piece is 1 meter tall (a little over 3 feet) and 50 cm wide. This will be the biggest piece I've ever done, so wish me luck!

Here's the face, which I started last weekend. The stripey look in the background is the camera catching the light table's lights strobing (it happens too fast for the eye to see, but the camera catches it.) It's propped up on 3 pieces of blu-tack. Also pictured: a little bit of my badger brush!

Work in progress, "Metropolis" stained glass, painted & fired glass by Maria McMahon 2014

Then this weekend just past, I got some more work done on the face and the body, as well as the first matte layers on all of the background pieces:

Work in progress, "Metropolis" stained glass, painted & fired glass by Maria McMahon 2014
Work in progress, "Metropolis" stained glass, painted & fired glass by Maria McMahon 2014
It's not exactly true to the poster, it's kind of my own take on it. The actual glass piece is a lot taller - the top pieces (where it's going to have the "Metropolis" lettering) were all in the kiln being fired when I took these pictures. I do intend to include all of the buildings in the background as well as the lettering at the top. It will all be done in paint, and I intend to keep the piece a monochrome, sepia colour like the poster.

This is a kind of different subject for a stained glass piece, I know. I was talking with The Scotsman about it, and came to the conclusion that iconic film imagery seems to fire me up (no pun intended, ha!) a lot more than Biblical stories. No offense to the Bible, but Bible stories and characters have been done in glass for millennia now!

The Metropolis robot was so amazing and ahead of its time, and led to so many other famous film robots (C-3PO, I'm looking at you!) that I feel it has the same kind of resonance for me as images of the Archangel Gabriel might have had to people in Medieval times. Stained glass has always been about using images to tell stories, and I'm following that tradition - telling stories that I find interesting.

There's still a huge amount of work to be done on this piece, but I'm pretty pleased with the way it's coming along. I hope it turns out!

See you next time. Pin It Now!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Dragon and Girl: more WIP

The holidays were so busy and went by so fast! I had so much going on that I didn't get into the studio much to work on my Dragon and Girl piece, but I've been grinding away on it here and there.

I really think I'm close to the finish line now. Just a couplefew more paint layers on the dragon, the golden stain on the dragon and the girl's hair, coloured stains in the flowers, and finishing up various details here and there, and I'll be able to lead it up and declare this piece finished. What I'll do with it when it's done is another one to figure out. Maybe it will be the first piece I ever sell! (Wouldn't that be nice?)

Anyway, here are some photos of the progress I've made recently. These first two photos are from January 5th:


Progress as of 5 January 2014 - you can see that the body of the dragon is further along than the head and wings
Progress as of 5 January 2014

After the above, I went into the head and wings and strengthened the line, as the line work was quite a bit lighter than that on the body. There are also a couple more layers of shading in the face and wings. Here's where the piece was yesterday:


Progress as of 11 January

The round mark to the left of the dragon's face is just a screw in the light table surface underneath. You can see that the dragon's face and wing are further along, closer in colour and line to the dragon's body.

There's been more work to the girl's hair:

More shading added to the girl's hair and dress
And I've added more detail to the castle in the distance:

More detail added to the castle; more needed in the shrubbery
I need to add more detail to the shrubbery in front of the castle and darken the little pine trees I added to the castle. The shrubbery was put in because the acid had crept under the resist right there and caused the green glass to be marred. Just one of those things.

The dragon's face is coming along:

I wanted his expression to be ambiguous. What's does he think of this situation?
So, in general, I'm pretty pleased with the way it's coming along. I'm really jumpy now, worried that I'm going to drop a piece and shatter it, or screw it up somehow in some other way! Wish me luck, I'm really seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with this one.

Also, anyone wanna buy it? (Ha ha.) :D Pin It Now!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Dragon and Girl: More WIP Photos

So, more progress this weekend on the Dragon and Girl piece. I did another firing of the border pieces, but I finally also was able to do the first matte layer on the dragon's body, head, and wings. I also did the first matte layer on the little girl.

With matte layers, you lay on a thin layer of paint, then smooth it with your badger brush. (I always end up singing "Mushroom, MUSHROOM!" at some point when I'm using the badger brush.)

After that, you use other brushes to take paint away. Glass painting is the opposite of painting on mediums like paper or canvas: instead of laying paint on to make parts darker, you lay paint on in a flat coat and then take it away to add highlights. It takes a bit of getting used to.

Each matte layer of paint you add on the glass builds up and gives the piece depth, shadows, and a more 3-D look. Every new layer that's added has to be fired. So, keep in mind: this is just the first layer.

On with the pictures!







I'm really excited that this part of the piece is finally starting to come on. I just hope I don't screw it up! Pin It Now!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Dragon and Girl progress

I went into the studio on Saturday and the green flash glass on the dragon piece FINALLY finished in the acid. Sometimes you really have to be patient!

This means that the rest of the piece, especially the leafy border, is in a much more forward state than the dragon. Hopefully by next week I'll be able to get a lot more done on the dragon portion of the piece.

Dragon body piece: finally done with the acid etching phase!
With the acid finally finished, I was able to add in the initial line work to the dragon's body. As you can see, I've also been working on the grass and the pathway the little girl is standing on. The leafy border has also gotten a few more matte washes.

The leafy borders are getting a lot more finished.

There's still a huge amount of work to be done, but it's coming along. Just have to keep on keepin' on.



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Sunday, 10 November 2013

New Piece: Dragon and Girl

Holy shards, I can't believe how long it's been since I last posted! It sure has been a while. I won't go into all of the excuses I have for not writing (*cough*health issues*cough*) but I've got some photos of the newest piece I'm working on with the mentorship of my amazing stained glass painting teacher, Brian James Waugh.

In this piece I'm working with "flashed" glass, which is a layer of coloured glass fused in a kiln onto a layer of clear glass. The way it works is, you cut vinyl "resist" for the parts where you want the colour to remain (you can also paint bitumen onto those parts, but we've been using vinyl resist). The resist is like a big sticker, which sticks to the glass and prevents the acid from reaching the part you want the colour to remain. The acid etches away the coloured layer wherever there isn't resist, which leaves you with clear glass in the areas where you'll be painting.

This is the drawing, or "cartoon" as they call it, which is in pretty battered shape. I've included it so you can see the idea of the image I'm going for. The border pieces are red flash glass which has been acid etched. I'll post more pix as I progress on the piece.

Another shot of the "cartoon."


The border pieces are red flash glass which has been acid etched. This is from before I did the line painting and firing on the leaves and vines.

The dragon and the girl are on green and blue flash glass, which has been acid etched. You can see in the green part, the acid has not yet taken all of the green flash glass away. Those pieces will go back into the acid.

This is what I did today - I finished the line painting on the leaves and vines and fired it, then did a matte wash on the background.


Another shot of the "cartoon."

Here are all of the leaf border pieces in the kiln. I've now done the line work on the dragon's face and wing, as well as the castle in the distance.

I've now done the line work on the dragon's face and wing, as well as the castle in the distance.

Here are some of the leaf border pieces in the kiln.

Here is the dragon's face in the kiln. The line has a bit of an "echo" where the lines of paint are casting a shadow on the white bottom of the kiln.

So, that's the progress so far! I've actually joined Brian's studio as a member now, which I'm very excited about. It will be good to see what all of the other studio members are doing and be inspired! Pin It Now!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

First glass painting class: fun!

My first glass painting class with Brian Waugh was last week, and I've been so busy I haven't had time to tell you about it. Well, first things first: it was really fun! Brian is an excellent teacher, and was very patient even when I was being especially thick.

Brian works out of a studio that hosts several other glass artists. The studio space also has ceramics folks, so I'm betting if I wanted to get my hand back into the ceramics game, I'd probably be able to. Which is nice to contemplate, although I have to say, what with learning this new aspect of glass art, my plate is pretty full!

So, on to the glass painting. Even though it was an all-day class, it became obvious very quickly that 8 hours only allowed us to scratch the top few snowflakes off the iceberg. I've got a lot to learn.

With glass painting, you do a firing for every different layer. It's really painstaking, kind of like painting with watercolours, only glass painting is a way more lengthy process.

First, you mix the powdered paint on a palette with water, then brush it on in a very thin layer as a base colour. You use a badger brush to smooth the paint and get an even matt finish.  After that dries, you fire it. After the first firing is done, you do the line work. This is like a line drawing, only done with a thin brush instead of a pencil or pen. Then that layer is fired.

Then you lay on successive layers of paint, glazes and enamels to create a 3-D effect. Each new layer has to be fired. Before you fire each layer, you use different types of brushes to take away dried paint on the highlighted areas, and it ends up looking kind of like really detailed etched copperplate prints.

You can see what I'm talking about in this one by Harry Clarke (a stained glass artist who I totally worship!)

"The Consecration of StMel, Bishop of Longford, by St. Patrick," by Harry Clarke. You can see the "etched" looking parts of the faces where a brush took dried paint away.

Fortunately Brian has a kiln that can do a firing in 1.5 - 2 hours, which I guess is unusual - most glass artists have kilns that can only do 1 firing a night, which seems bonkers to me. How does anyone get anything done??

I'm meeting up again with Brian in 2 weeks, and I have to have a design done for a larger piece by then. I'm working on drawing a concept I thought up, but so far it's only in the very early stages. If the finished piece comes out how it looks in my head, I'll be pretty happy. (But then, how often does that happen, really?)

Ah well. All you can do is your best. And it helps to have a good teacher! Pin It Now!