glass enamel

Drawings to Glass by Sasha Ward

Below is window panel three from a set of four with the watercolour design on the left and the completed glass on the right. I’ve put these images side by side because I feel as if I’ve made progress over the years in showing clients a design that gives a good indication of what the finished glass will look like. I’ve just completed the panels, but it will be a while before I get photographs of them installed so I thought I would look at the progress of ideas from paper to glass.

One of four panels for a private house, 1200 x 460 mm. Left watercolour, right glass.

One of four panels for a private house, 1200 x 460 mm. Left watercolour, right glass.

A collage, partly shown below left, was one of my early designs and it turned out to be the key to sorting out this composition. The quality I copied from the paper to the glass was the contrast between a matt neutral ground and pools of pale, decorated, transparent colour. In glass terms, this became sandblasted dirty pink ground (a great new enamel colour mix) against a very transparent hand painted blue pool.

Central section of panels 3 & 4. Left collage, right glass.

Central section of panels 3 & 4. Left collage, right glass.

In another watercolour/collage, below left, I worked out some details and found a new pattern to suggest a wooded background. I didn’t really like the overall look of this design, and was surprised when I put it against the glass in progress, below right, to see how much I had stuck to my original shapes. These two glass panels on the lighbox before their first firing show how much the colour of the enamel changes when fired.

Panels 1 & 2. Left watercolour/collage, right glass panels on the lightbox before firing.

Panels 1 & 2. Left watercolour/collage, right glass panels on the lightbox before firing.

When I look at a photo (below left) of the first, unfired layer of enamel I used to create the background, I can hardly remember how I did it. I can see the drawn lines are the same in the finished version (below right) and I have my notes, which tell me that the brown turned grey and the green went pink - as planned obviously!

Background detail. Left on the lightbox before firing, right same section completed.

Background detail. Left on the lightbox before firing, right same section completed.

A third comparison (after paper to glass and unfired to double fired) is from artificial to natural light. The panels will be installed in an existing four light window with a light box behind each one. The colours work much better in artificial light - as planned obviously! You can see this in the photos below. However, when the glass has daylight behind it my original concept, matt ground against pale pool, is really emphasised and gives me something I want to take into my next piece of work.

Top half of the glass completed. Left on the lightbox, right against the window.

Top half of the glass completed. Left on the lightbox, right against the window.

Stages of Making by Sasha Ward

Left: Strips of 6mm float glass                       Right: After first firing, the simple part of the design.

Left: Strips of 6mm float glass                       Right: After first firing, the simple part of the design.

This summer I installed a commission in the garden of Booth House, a Salvation Army Lifehouse in Swindon. It's a donations panel, with removable glass tiles so that names can be added to the work, mounted on a fence and therefore with no back lighting. These constraints made it a technically complicated commission so I photographed the stages of making, showing how the glass went from a pile of strips in my studio (above left) to the finished piece at the bottom of this post. 

Left: Lee at Booth House with one of his pieces before firing.  Right: Sgraffito pieces from the workshops after firing.

Left: Lee at Booth House with one of his pieces before firing.  Right: Sgraffito pieces from the workshops after firing.

The design also had to incorporate contributions from the residents of Booth House who were invited to join glass workshops. Their sgraffito drawings on enamelled glass tiles with inscriptions in mirror writing really enlivened the simple composition. This is based on rows of staggered plants climbing up an imaginary trellis. Everything from the workshops was included in the finished artwork so the design changed and grew during the making process.

When you take your work outside, it suddenly looks very small, dwarfed by the big wide world. To fill a reasonable amount of space on the fence, I worked out that I needed to make 72 pieces of glass, each measuring 120mm x 250-350mm. Every piece is unique - with a tiny number scratched in the enamel after the first layer of green/brown painting and firing (top right). The second layer of painting added plain colours as backgrounds for the names, these commemorate people and organisations who have made donations of various kinds to Booth House. 

Left: first batch of glass pieces on the lightbox before second firing.  Right: all the pieces have been painted twice, half of them still need their second firing.

Left: first batch of glass pieces on the lightbox before second firing.  Right: all the pieces have been painted twice, half of them still need their second firing.

Left: the master list                                                        Right: piece no. 51, just the name left to add

Left: the master list                                                        Right: piece no. 51, just the name left to add

That was really the fun part over. The fired pieces had to be taken to the tougheners, then brought back to the studio along with 72 pieces of mirrored glass slightly taller than the enamelled pieces to create tiles with two stepped edges, able to slide in and out of the frame.  Next I cut three layers of laminating stuff and taped them between the enamelled and mirrored glass, ready for lamination. The last process was sandblasting names onto the front of some of the tiles. And the most time consuming part of the process - scraping off the stuff that oozes out during lamination - didn't even appear on my master list. The piles of glass pieces looked great, really bright and reflective on a sunny day in the studio (below left). The colours of our green, shady garden were reflected when I piled them on the table outside.

Reflected colours: inside the studio (left),      in the garden (right).

Reflected colours: inside the studio (left),      in the garden (right).

Corner in the garden of Booth House                                          Detail with reflections

Corner in the garden of Booth House                                          Detail with reflections

The frame for the glass pieces is an ingenious thing devised by friend and neighbour Fred Baier. We customised strips of composite decking material and slotted them together on two boards which we installed on a section of fence that creates a little corner. The colours on a summer's day couldn't be brighter, with reflections from the garden and the wall opposite and a spectacular merging of colours, names and patterns at the corner joint. I took a photo from Spring Gardens car park that overlooks the garden, of one of the residents looking for her painted piece (bottom right), showing how the mirrored enamel stands out even from such a distance.

Detail showing corner and neat end caps                                                    From Spring Gardens car park

Detail showing corner and neat end caps                                                    From Spring Gardens car park

Kelmscott Design No. 2 by Sasha Ward

notes for tape.jpg

This design shows the rooves of Kelmscott Manor from the south, where the huge vine grows. I have included the background stripes that I see in the Oxfordshire landscape, especially now when the low sun shines through rows of trees. I wanted the design block to rotate 180˚, so it could be used for a tape : above is the design for packing tape now in production: below is my installation in the brewhouse window of the wallpaper version of the design with a central section taken out for the corresponding glass panel. I was delighted that the lines joined up and that the white ground on the paper and glass did not make the room too dark.

Brewhouse window from the outside at dusk, lights on, looks intriguing.

Brewhouse window from the outside at dusk, lights on, looks intriguing.