14 June 2006

Homemade Cathedral 2: Stained Glass

Finally, we get back to the cathedral.

It's been hanging over my head for the last 3 months, mainly because I really want to complete it. It's not 100% done yet, but we are plugging away. In fact, it stormed a few days ago just as the girls were getting ready to head out to play with a friend so they all ended up in the garage working on the cathedral instead.

Today's entry is about how we tackled the windows.

We created our own simplified version of stained glass. Both Ellie and Rebekah got to make a rose window (although Ellie decided to make hers a "tulip window") and a clerestory for their transept.

First, they drew out their designs on butcher paper, then laid a sheet of plexiglass (from Home Depot) over it, traced the outlines with black acrylic paint (which creates a slightly raised ridge to make a "well" for the stained glass paint), let it dry, then filled in the spaces with color. You can buy stained glass window paints at most craft stores.

After the glaze paint dried, we used a plexiglass adhesive to glue the windows to the inside of the cathedral walls. For the remaining windows, I opted to use colored cellophane from the craft store. Easier to attach, but also easier to tear and remove, as Destructo-Anna will tell you.

Stained glass trivia:

- An artisan skilled at glasswork is known as a glazier.

- If you want to make green or blue stained glass, add copper to the molten glass.

- Red and orange are made by adding gold oxides.

-The term "rose window" refers to the gigantic circular window usually found above the main door on both the nave and the two transepts. Compare:

- Lead, a very soft and bendy metal, is used to hold the individual pieces of colored glass in place. This is what gives stained glass windows their neat "jigsaw puzzle" appearance. Here is one of our co-op friends examining the stained glass display at the Washington National Cathedral.

- If not for the Gothic fascination with making cathedral walls soar to heaven, the glorious cathedral window as we know it today would not exist. Flying buttresses were invented to uphold the side walls, which enabled architects and builders to create thinner walls with more open space for windows. Once wall space and windows became a possibility, windows became a beautiful medium for Biblical teaching, portraying local history, and noting the rich and famous of the region. Below are 2 examples from the National Cathedral:

This is one of a pair of windows detailing the Lewis and Clark expeditions. Close examination reveals rattlesnakes, wigwams, elk, Yosemite falls, coyotes, cacti, and all kinds of other flora and fauna they encountered on their journey to the West.

Here is the Space Exploration window. A tribute to the advances in space travel and exploration, this window actually incorporates a piece of moon rock donated by NASA. (It's that tiny white speck in the central black circle.) Cool, eh?

Some neat websites I've come across in researching stained glass:
This is a wonderful example of how stained glass and mosaic work together. St.Peter Mancroft Church Through the tragic loss of a medieval window, a wonderful new window is created using the remaining shards. Notice how there are random hands and angel's wings scattered about. Crowns hanging in mid-air. Foundations of buildings that reach up and just end in nothingness. What a great way to honor and preserve the church's heritage, and recycle at the same time. Think they were concerned about the ecosystem back then? ;)

Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows is the only museum I know of in the US that is devoted solely to stained glass art. Steve and I took the girls a few years ago when we were in Chicago for my cousin's wedding. If you ever find yourself at Navy Pier, this is a fun exhibit. And, it's FREE!

Aanraku Glass Studios is out in California. Click here to see their gallery full of examples of contemporary stained glass art.


Blogger Leatherwing said...

I like the cathedral. Nice progress.
I have to admit that, even though I dislike the idea of investing too much of God's money in a building, with cathedrals the building itself inspires a sense of awe. If that awe is also applied to God, something good is happening.
Plus they give artists a place to serve, right?

6:29 PM  
Blogger gramarty said...

I'm receiving such a rich education at the hands of my daughter and grandchildren...thank you, my Dears.

I love the Space Exploration window...now that I'm on the hunt for something of interest to hang in the new kitchen, I wonder if anybody has any spare moon rocks lying around? Your dad probably tossed half a dozen in the trash or gave them away years ago. Guess I could substitute with the ever-growing medallion collection. I'm enjoying the tour immensely!

9:31 AM  

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