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".

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Frameless Glass Showers

"Frameless" glass showers have become the new standard in elegant glass installations. I recently familiarized myself with some of the the techniques and options available for several installations that I was contracted to do.

With a variety of engineered "glass clamps", hinges, stabilizing hardware and tempered glass, a wide variety of designs can be realized. These installations allow the tile, stone and etched glass to be enjoyed from inside and outside the shower area.

I recently installed glass in three showers (two with no etching on the glass), using these techniques. One is a "neo-angle" design (a corner installation with the door set at a 45 degree angle to the walls) with a steam option that required floor to ceiling glass.

The second installation used a newly designed post system that stabilizes the glass panels where one edge doesn't reach the ceiling or wall. A frameless shower door can then be hinged off a stabilized panel, making a visually clean and structurally sound installation.

Here's a detail photo of the stabilizing posts:

While those two installations did not have any etching on the glass, I did exercise my affection for Great Blue Herons once again, in the third installation.

The pebbled stone floor works well with the heron, reeds and water design, the etching contrasting well with the dark tiles on the walls.

The reeds and feathers were delicately etched on the surface of the tempered glass using the sandblast etching process, creating a layerd effect. A soft surface texture was achieved by using a fine abrasive, resulting in a permanent image that is easy to keep clean.

The new hardware available for frameless glass showers allows me more options to offer clients, expanding on the techniques I have learned over twenty-five years of creating glass designs.


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Lost at Sea

This is another in my 'Garden Sculpture' series, created with cast pumice and cement, with glass and metal components. Some pieces, like this one, are not suited for year round exposure to the elements, but could be outside, if sheltered from direct rain or snow. This one is serving as a 'side table' in our foyer presently, adding some ambient light with its internal lighting. See more pieces on my website!

As a lament for lost ideals, 'Lost at Sea' includes images from past civilizations and a representation of our own culture's slide into the abyss of lost direction.

The white glass pieces with engraved 'runes' (from a forgotten Scandanavian culture) and the pyramid forms (from the long past Egyptian civilization) represent past times and lost ideals. Carved into these pyramidal forms are three concepts that have been abandoned by our grasping and gasping post-post-industrial culture:

-Eros: (represented by a mermaid) The loss of appreciation for the mythical, mystical, exotic and erotic, debasing these human drives in xenophobic and pornographic distortions.

-Justice: The 'balance' of right action, right thought and right emotion has been lost in economics, ecology and the social connection of all humanity.

-Chaos: (represented by a cumulonimbus cloud of life giving rain (and sometimes life threatening force). The loss of the humble appreciation that we cannot know and control all things from the limited knowledge of our materially based cultural constructs.

The damaged boat form represents our own 'lost' culture. sunken to the depths with its hubristic adherence to the concept that through technology we can re-shape the natural world into a better one. Embedded in this form is the 'ladder to success' intertwined with the 'snakes of unknowing' that slither among those aspirations, with unanticipated consequences that ultimately lead to our own destruction. All this set on a bed of sand: our own culture's unstable foundation of inequality and voraciousness.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

New bathroom doors and Open House/Studio Tour at Nimbus Glass Studio!

I finally etched the bathroom doors at our home this past spring. Fortunately, my wife tolerated having clear glass in the bathroom doors the last few years!

To allow as much light as possible (other than being completely clear) I lightly frosted the main part of the glass, leaving a grid of clear lines (which echo the floor tile grout lines). The kiln-fired stained glass transmits a lot of light as well, while the wavy texture of the of the colours distorts the view to provide an acceptable degree of privacy.

This detail image shows the fine clear lines (the 'grid'), the kiln-fired stained glass and some of the 1" X 1" beveled glass bits that add 'sparkle' and a kinetic effect of changing light and shadow when approaching or passing the doors.

Made with tempered safety glass panels, these doors are as durable as they are beautiful. While my wife is happy to have more privacy, she really likes the over-all effect of the brightly coloured glasses (we call it her 'inner four-year-old').     ;-)

To show off these doors, along with some newer sculptural pieces and my new (four years) studio, I am having an open house and garden sculpture/studio tour on Sunday, July 28th (2013) from 10 am to 8 pm. If you are in the area of Shuswap Lake, we are on the north side, at 3019 Hopwood Road in Lee Creek (50 minutes from Kamloops, 40 minutes from Salmon Arm).

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Sun, Moon and Stars

This hanging sculptural piece started with some sketches by the client, with ideas of a sun/moon theme. As the installation included some natural light and also hangs in front of a section of wall, the glass needed to function with exterior transmitted light as well as reflected interior lighting.

I slumped the orange streaky sun/moon centre piece glass for a more dramatic '3-D' effect and delicately etched the crescent moon image on one side.

The blue glass extending from both sides of the centre includes some surface etched 'wave forms', ending in a row of metal stars with a faceted lead crystal ball. Extra arcs of copper hold more lead crystals, adding to the star motif.

Hanging from the ceiling on small chains, I added a small stainless steel wire at the bottom centre to angle the piece slightly from the vertical and to present a better viewing angle to the living room below.

The combination of surface etching on the deeply coloured glasses and the copper edges with the lead crystals allow this piece to make good use of both reflected and transmitted light. With an added accent light that 'bounces' light of the wall behind, the glass colours come out strongly for enhanced evening enjoyment.

-Private residence, Shuswap Lake, B.C., Canada.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Art deco glass windows

These two small 35cm X 91cm (14" X 36") glass panels are installed in a private library in Kamloops, B.C., Canada.

The initial design idea was an 'art deco' reference, with an asymmetrical design being preferred by the clients. Several clear textured glasses and some 'mottled' etching were used to admit light into a second interior room. Delicately textured and kiln-fired stained glass pieces make up the remainder of the glasses in this traditionally leaded work.

The many textured surfaces refract, reflect and highlight the variety of lighting from diffused daylight to illumination by interior light at night. 

Installed in a wall between the library and a home office space, these panels can be enjoyed from either side, both day and night.

Monday, 10 December 2012

'Music Maker'

Monday, Dec. 10, 2012

'Music Maker'

Here's a commissioned glass panel that incorporates a variety of glass forming methods: kiln-fired stained glass, laminated (UV glue) glass pieces, carved and painted details and sandblast etching/frosting along with the traditional leaded technique.

'Music Maker' (C. St. John 2012)

Created for a music making client and friend, we started with the idea of a 'musical theme' and developed the ideas from there. Beginning with the carved and painted musical notes (from the lower left to the upper right, mostly) I then worked in a more abstract idea of musical notation with 'dots and dashes' of kiln-fired stained glass (from the upper left to the lower right, mostly).

The clear/white 'background' areas are a clear glue-chipped glass with a mottled sandblast etching on the back surface. Representing the 'background' harmonics of multiple musical notes played or sung simultaneously, it also obscures the view beyond during the day with transmitted light and reflects surface light from the frosted areas at night.

'Music Maker' (night detail) (C. St. John 2012)

This night view detail shows the gold painted musical notes, the surface glued kiln-fired stained glass pieces on the streaky yellow glass and the mottled etching on the clear 'background' glass.

The bold bright colours are a departure from my usual pallet, but fit the client's desire for a strong visual impact in both colour and design.

Working with clients on commissioned pieces often stretches my design ideas, challenging me to find appropriate solutions to a particular site and client desires. The real challenge then, is to create a unique piece that fits the requirements and also reflects my own ideas of good design.