Josef Albers

Teaching Stained Glass by Sasha Ward

Twentieth Century glass and stained glass lantern in The Oak Hall, West Dean House.

I always say that the inspiration for my own glass came from looking at examples of old stained glass. I worked out why certain techniques and design features were used and this enabled me to invent my own way of doing things using modern methods and contemporary imagery. When I teach short courses at West Dean College, as I did last week, I try and get my students to take the same approach using as examples the stained glass in West Dean House

Windows representing the four seasons above the entrance doors, West Dean House.

Above the front door you find these beautiful women representing the four seasons. Their provenance is unknown to me; I concentrate on the pattern making in the background, the detailed clothing and the border. Rob Veck's panel below uses the same paints, iron oxide and silver stain, with a face and some patterns borrowed from another Pre-Raphaelite and her gown.

Detail from autumn window, West Dean.                                                        Rob's panel in progress at West Dean College.

The stained and enamelled fragments that patch windows and lanterns in The Oak Hall (top), are a great example of my favourite type of reassembled stained glass. I was very happy to have a fellow patchwork enthusiast, Jane Brocket, on my course for whom a different way of working with glass seemed to make sense. Below left is Jane’s work in progress, where pieces that she has sandblasted, painted and fired are combined with scraps from the off cuts box. I was reminded of panels made at the Bauhaus by Josef Albers, nothing pointlessly complicated here. 

Jane's panel in progress at West Dean College.                         Glass, lead and wire panels by Josef Albers, 1921.