This past Saturday, my friend R invited me out to her place to make stained glass mosaics. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try, and R’s work is beautiful, so I was very excited to have a chance to learn from her.
A few days beforehand, she called me with instructions about what kind of glass to get and where. So on Thursday, I headed down to European Art Glass across from the Tim Horton’s at Archibald and Marion to look at glass. There were so many beautiful pieces in there! And it took me the better part of an hour to pick out four smallish sheets and one small remnant.
The prices on the sheets of glass seemed random, but when I asked, the helpful people there explained that brighter or more intense colours are harder to achieve, and that colours such as red, orange, and yellow require actual gold in the process. (I might have this wrong; it’s a totally new subject for me so I’m not sure how much I absorbed.)
R had instructed me to get three complementary colours of opaque glass. By “complementary,” I always assume people mean “colours I think will look good together” as opposed to actual Colour Theory. After much thought and careful carrying sheets of glass back and forth between the store’s light table and the bins, I finally chose a milky pale green, a deep blue, a light lavender, an iridescent sheet, and a fragment of bright green with water-drop-type splotches.
R had a bunch of small cupboard doors with recessed central panels from which I could choose for my base. She was so prepared! There was a pile of paper plates for me to use for sorting my glass pieces. Paper towels, glue and a paintbrush and a container of water, and a cutting / snipping station set up with cardboard walls around it to keep the chips from flying around the room. She showed me how to score the glass with the glass cutter and how to snap the piece off the main sheet, and then how to use the nippers (not sure if that’s the right name) to snip bits of glass in different shapes.
It was so satisfying when the cuts went well! And when they didn’t, well, all the irregular pieces can also be used, so at least nothing was wasted.
When it came time to arrange the glass in a pattern, I was overthinking it. R was laughing (kindly) at me, and she explained that once I put the glue down, I was only going to have about ten minutes to get all my pieces in place, so I had to let go of my perfectionism. I brushed the glue onto my panel, and then worked (relatively) quickly to get all my pieces down in the pattern I had planned. That process was more fluid than I had imagined; it was like drawing, where I have a general idea in mind but the details emerge as I go along.
I was aiming for an abstract landscape and I’m pretty happy with the results. It’s not grouted yet, but here’s what I have so far:
I started cutting glass for another piece but realised my colour values were too similar for what I wanted to do, so I’ll have to go buy some more glass before next time:
It was a lot of fun to learn this, and I look forward to my grouting lesson. It’s hard for me and R to find a free day at the same time, so this was also a rare and lovely chance for us to spend some time together, just chatting and catching up and also just working companionably in silence together. We usually take painting classes together in the fall and winter sessions, but we didn’t do it this winter, and I have missed it. There’s something so wonderful about playdates! It’s such a pleasure to work on art in the company of a friend who is doing the same.
Also, despite working with broken glass, we each only needed one bandaid.