Another Return to the Thames by Sasha Ward

 Fanlights for two upstairs bathrooms

Fanlights for two upstairs bathrooms

This set of windows are for bathroom fanlights for the same house (as my last post) in Oxfordshire. The shape of the windows, the function of the rooms and the local landscape all led me to return to the River Thames for my subject matter. Although I had walked, photographed and drawn along the path of the river a couple of years ago, I hadn't found a good enough way to show the reeds along the river banks and the general stripiness of the flat landscape before. 

 Fanlight one

Fanlight one

The photos of the windows installed, above and below, show the different colour of the light coming through windows and skylights in the bathrooms . The colours of the hand painted enamels are the same for each window, with the image of the blue river flowing to join the pictures together.

 Fanlight two

Fanlight two

I spent a long time on the design for these windows, struggling with my riverbank drawings. The designs look very similar to the finished windows, as is shown in the photo of glass on top of the drawing below. Back in my studio the drawings are still on the wall, giving me ideas for the next piece of work.

 Detail from window two: sample for window one on top of the sketch design.

Detail from window two: sample for window one on top of the sketch design.

Hops by Sasha Ward

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This house really needed new stained glass panels in its front door - the leaded lights continued to deteriorate (above) while I made the windows which were fitted earlier this month (below). The new windows do a good job of obscuring direct visibility on to the busy street, while letting patches of coloured light into the house which used to be a pub and brew house - hence the hops in my design.

 Hop windows, left from the inside, right from the outside.

Hop windows, left from the inside, right from the outside.

 Branches of dried hops: section of window design: sketch design for the three windows

Branches of dried hops: section of window design: sketch design for the three windows

I really wanted the plant to look like hop, rather then grape, vines. I gave them particularly thin, twisty stems, small leaves and an extra firing of acid yellow on the hops themselves, which are actual size. Pictures taken on the lighbox during the making (below) show the play of painted patterned pieces from my scrapbox, and how the blocks move diagonally across the design. When the hop vines surround them, the coloured blocks are intertwined with a curvy pattern in green and sandblasted white.

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Details of the left hand panel (above) and the top right corner (below) show how the colours and textures change with the background to the window - obvious really. On the left the details are seen on a lightbox, on the right they have been installed in the front door and, as they should, look much better there with sparkling colours and highlights.

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Lichfield Cathedral in Lichfield Cathedral by Sasha Ward

Lichfield Cathedral in Lichfield Cathedral, The Hacket Window by Charles Eamer Kempe 1901

I always love local detail in a window, particularly a picture of the building you are in. The window above shows Lichfield Cathedral undergoing restoration after the Civil War, Bishop Hacket is depicted in the central panel with plans of the cathedral. The colours and detail of the stone, set off by a gorgeous cloudy turquoise sky, add more local colour. The Hacket Window is one of many works in the cathedral by Charles Eamer Kempe, these include sculpture, memorials, textiles and furnishings as well as stained glass. Further along the south aisle is a staircase with a small decorative window (below left) at its base, in a style that is even more recognisably Kempe's. 

Left: window on the staircase.  Right: window inside St Chad's Head Chapel.  Below: details from central panel of this window.

Climb the stairs and you are in a small chapel, St Chad's Head Chapel, where all the windows are designed by Kempe, with the same motif repeated throughout. I have seen this leaf motif of his before, I particularly admire the way that the undulating blades of each leaf form satisfying squares. It's not obvious what the leaf is supposed to be until you look at the detail in the other windows where the leaves are growing on a thick vine with bunches of grapes (that look like bubbles) crammed up against some typical little angels (example below).

I particularly like the window opposite the altar (detail shown below left) which is composed of the leaf squares in two different sizes. The dark blue background is covered in a flowing version of the vine leaf motif, with bunches of grapes in shades of purple. The windows behind the altar (below right) have added and bigger angels, not that you can see them particularly well behind the reredos, also designed by Kempe, seemingly to hide them. However that photo shows the rich, dark atmosphere created inside this chapel, a former sacristy, by the combination of the warm stone, ancient carvings and a complete set of Kempe stained glass windows. 

 Left: detail of window with vine and texts. Right: altar and windows hidden behind reredos

Left: detail of window with vine and texts. Right: altar and windows hidden behind reredos

Richly Decorated Apse by Sasha Ward

Central window, Christ resurrected & detail, HB&B 1888

The apse is in St Nicholas, East Grafton, a church in a scenic position on the village green. It is a Victorian church designed in the Romanesque style by Benjamin Ferrey in the 1840s, with a decorative interior scheme by Thomas Willement and stained glass by a number of different firms. The windows that interest me are the three in the apse by Heaton, Butler & Bayne, because they look absolutely great in combination with the painted walls and window reveals. The wall painting is geometric, floral ornamentation while the glass designs are unusually devoid of pattern or border. The glass is mostly white with brown paint and silverstain, some patches of red and a beautiful piece of light blue in St Margaret's palm leaf (below right). These colours link the windows back to the painting on the walls.

Left hand window, St Margaret & details, HB&B 1888

The billowing clouds make a complete contrast with the patterned walls, they give the windows a feeling that is so light and full of air although they are heavily painted. At each side is a smaller narrow opening filled with clear lozenges. These complete the semi circle of the apse wall in a very satisfying way, different styles but nothing jarring. 

Right hand window, St Nicholas & detail, HB&B 1887

New Favourite Detail by Sasha Ward

Carvings around the doors of St Mary, Chilton Foliat

The new favourite detail is from St. Mary, Chilton Foliat, Wiltshire where there was an open door (what a great latch) and smiles on the faces of the carved figures around it. Opposite the south door, in a two light stained glass window made by James Powell & Sons in 1931, is the lovely little interior scene below, showing the young Mary with her mother Saint Anne.

 Lower right hand panel from James Powell & Sons 1931 window

Lower right hand panel from James Powell & Sons 1931 window

The figures are engaging and have just the right amount of illustrative simplicity,  they are set off by a background, with two sizes of chair and a traditional flooring pattern, that is similarly clean and crisp. I kept returning to this window without really knowing why I liked it - it's not my usual type of thing! In this church there are various styles of stained glass in smallish windows and these provide interesting comparisons.

 Vision of St. Hubert by John Hayward 1966

Vision of St. Hubert by John Hayward 1966

First there is this John Hayward window from the 1960s, full of wonderful details but, as usual, so messy in its composition. I love the background figures and the shapes on the ground, the feet of St. Hubert and the stag are shown above covered in subtle layers of paint and sgraffito lines. I have always found this painting style depressing, it amounts to covering beautiful transparent coloured glass with a grey film and then scratching it off to let tiny bits of light through - the opposite of crisp and simple lines.

 St Cecilia, designed by A.E. Buss, made by Goddard & Gibbs in 1976

St Cecilia, designed by A.E. Buss, made by Goddard & Gibbs in 1976

I have included this little St Cecilia window for nostalgic reasons as she looks so 1970s which is when I started making stained glass. But I also find her a bit sentimental - like the little landscape beside her. I hope that's the cottage that Fred, Nellie, Lionel & Elsie lived in, I like the confident way the scene is painted, going across the coloured borders of the glass.

 Blessed Virgin Mary & Baby Jesus by Bell & Beckham 1872

Blessed Virgin Mary & Baby Jesus by Bell & Beckham 1872

We looked at this window for a long time, there's a lot to enjoy in the beautiful rich colours and the ornate pattern making. The inscription below, the canopy above, the background and border patterns all work well together. But the figures with their fixed expressions don't have the charm of those in my new favourite detail.

 Window by Thomas Willement 1844, with memorial to Francis Hugh Leyborne Popham, aged 5 months

Window by Thomas Willement 1844, with memorial to Francis Hugh Leyborne Popham, aged 5 months

Two pairs of windows are made of translucent glass with stencilled oak tree details and red borders, two others have the same vibrant red background and a pattern of vines. Here are two good examples of patterned botanical windows. When seen together, they really enhance the space and provide a wonderful backdrop to the memorials in the church. But it's harder to do a good stained glass window with figurative subject matter as the other windows by Thomas Willement in this church - too ghastly even to photograph - demonstrate.

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 St Luke & BVM in St Michael, Shalbourne 1995

St Luke & BVM in St Michael, Shalbourne 1995

On the way home we stopped at Shalbourne to see this window made in 1995 by Hanry Haig to Karl Parson's design. I knew I wasn't going to like it as I'd seen illustrations of the really floppy and weak-featured BVM in my guide book. It provides more food for thought - how difficult it is to get the figures right. As you would expect from these two artists there are some fabulous details in the painting, texture and use of subtle glass, and the way the emblems (St Luke's bull shown above) fit in to the overall composition.