sasha ward glass

Moving Windows by Sasha Ward

Rectangular fanlight window, private house Devizes, 2004.

Rectangular fanlight window, private house Devizes, 2004.

Occasionally friends commissions me to make windows for their houses. These commissions often provide an opportunity for me to do what I think would look good in the space, rather than design something to a theme that has to be approved by a committee. The fanlight windows commissioned by friends in Devizes in 2004 and 2008, shown above and below, show my preference for order and geometry. They looked good installed above the front and back doors and when the friends moved they wanted to take them to the new house, although not quite sure of where they would fit.

Square fanlight window, private house Devizes 2008.

Square fanlight window, private house Devizes 2008.

Detail showing quarter circle and original collage design.

Detail showing quarter circle and original collage design.

Rectangular window moved to private house, Bristol and during installation (with coincidental matching t-shirt design).

Rectangular window moved to private house, Bristol and during installation (with coincidental matching t-shirt design).

It was perfectly easy to take the glass panels out, give them a good clean and find them new spaces. The rectangular window had its ends chopped off and was put in front of the existing reeded glass above a bedroom door. The bar that divides the window in two goes well with the sandblasted lines on the design, which flew out of the sides of the panel even before the chopping.

The square window, which has always been one of my favourite designs, was easy to miss in its previous high up home so in the new house they wanted to hang it lower down in one of the conservatory windows. As it is big (790 x 815 mm) and heavy, we had to place it on fixed rods rather than in a hanging frame with the sandblasted section, originally at the top to hide bits of the ceiling, at the bottom. You can now appreciate all the hand painted detail in this panel and it looks especially good from the outside, surrounded by plants.

Square window moved to conservatory of Bristol house, from outside and inside.

Square window moved to conservatory of Bristol house, from outside and inside.

Please don’t let the fact that you may move some time in the future put you off commissioning me, windows are very easy to move to a new place - as any church crawler knows.

In the Window by Sasha Ward

Left, roadside front window before. Right, kitchen window.

Left, roadside front window before. Right, kitchen window.

As you can see in the two pictures above, the windows in my friend’s new house have restricted views. At the back, the kitchen looks on to a concrete wall with tiles and objects positioned wherever they fit. At the front, there is a busy stretch of main road and a pavement close up to the low window. Although she has made it look great with her objects and stick on patterns, she wanted some pieces of my glass in front of the window to block the traffic in a more colourful way.

This was after seeing the rows of random samples I always have in my studio window, slotted into wooden grooves fitted across the window frames. At the moment (below right) I have my most recent samples, some colour test strips and a few samples that stay every time I have a reshuffle so I suppose they must be my favourites. I’ve used grooved wood for shelves in the window since I was a student at the Royal College of Art (years ago, picture below left), with a great view of the Albert Hall and a changing display of the pieces I was painting on top of a backlit piece of glass.

Left, my window at The Royal College of Art in 1985. Right, my studio window this week (2019).

Left, my window at The Royal College of Art in 1985. Right, my studio window this week (2019).

Left, roadside window after. Right, colours through the glass.

Left, roadside window after. Right, colours through the glass.

Choosing glass offcuts or old samples, cutting them up and arranging them in a row is like making a fragment-style stained glass window. That is, anything looks OK but there is an art to the ordering and cropping. These pieces are big at 400 mm tall, and from many different periods so I did a bit of work to unite them with two rows of circles sandblasted out and filled with green enamel. It means that you can still play around with the order and orientation of the pieces. The best part, as always, was seeing the colours projected through the glass on to the carpet in the afternoon sun (above right).

Detail of three panels, originally samples for The Centre Livingston, private house & Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Detail of three panels, originally samples for The Centre Livingston, private house & Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Approach corridor by Sasha Ward

Vinyl/glass/vinyl window at Manchester Children’s Hospital: 1800 mm square.

Vinyl/glass/vinyl window at Manchester Children’s Hospital: 1800 mm square.

Sunburst was not the title intended for the piece I have just installed in a white corridor leading to the paediatric mortuary at Manchester Children’s Hospital. However in the record breaking February sunshine this week and framed by the corrugated sides of the hospital building outside, it glows like a gentle star. As you can see in the photo below left, dramatic shadows and colours are cast on to the floor - surely the best thing about stained glass. Evidently I hadn’t dared imagine the effect would be so good as the collage of my design on to the photo of the space shows (below right).

Left: Feature window at the entrance to the paediatric mortuary. Right: Photomontage of the same space.

Left: Feature window at the entrance to the paediatric mortuary. Right: Photomontage of the same space.

This feature window is part of a commission for artworks in the series of rooms that make up the mortuary. It was almost two years ago when I designed the work following consultation with staff and bereaved families and to a brief that asked for the artwork to be abstract, with no representational imagery and using gentle colours and shapes. Last month I wrote about the colour scheme and the door vision panels; there will be more on the wall designs (digitally printed wallpaper), wall panels and viewing windows when the new furniture arrives to complete the rooms later on.

Below is a page of sketches showing the development of the design for the feature window. I was concerned about working with - rather than fighting against - the horizontal bars and not blocking the wonderful view.

12 sketches showing development of the design

12 sketches showing development of the design

Window detail: vinyl on the left in this picture.

Window detail: vinyl on the left in this picture.

The feature window is made up of a hefty piece of laminated and toughened printed glass (2500 x 780 x 17mm) flanked by two pieces of printed transparent vinyl applied to the surface of the existing window. I hadn’t tried this combination up against each other before, and was apprehensive that the colours on the vinyl would look weak against the sparkling enamels on the glass. But they compliment each other well, the white/shadows are just as strong, and the pattern cast on the floor is colourful but subtle.

floorsm.jpg

Colour sequence by Sasha Ward

This is part of a project I have been doing in the paediatric mortuary at Manchester Childrens’ Hospital. Over the past two years I have designed artworks for a suite of five rooms following extensive consultation with bereaved parents and hospital staff and negotiated with manufacturers and the hospital estates department to get the works, made of vinyl and glass, installed.

Vinyl detail:  Double doors leading to the mortuary:  Locked doors in the corridor

Vinyl detail: Double doors leading to the mortuary: Locked doors in the corridor

The overall scheme is now starting to come together with new colours on the walls and coloured vinyl on the door vision panels. These make an impact that is much larger than their size and help you find your way through the maze of windowless rooms that make up this backwater of the hospital building. The design on the vinyl is simple, the complicated part is the layered printing so that one half of each panel is translucent and the other is opaque i.e. a colour printed over a white layer. In the detail shown above left the blue is opaque and the yellow is translucent therefore it glows as you approach the double doors to the (badly sign posted) mortuary. In the next part of the corridor there is a pair of locked doors so the vinyl on these has a different design that is totally opaque - attractive but hopefully uninviting (above right).

Entrance door:  Babies’ room door: Children’s room door with room light on and off

Entrance door: Babies’ room door: Children’s room door with room light on and off

The main pattern is ordered, simple and gentle rather than geometric and rigid. The entrance door to the waiting area is green/blue, this leads to the babies’ room (blue/yellow) and the children’s room (yellow/green)- all shown above. The back door of the babies’ room is also blue/yellow but with the translucent and opaque sides reversed, while the back of the children’s room is blue/pink - all shown below. When the light behind the door is off you can see the colour on the opaque part of the design, while the translucent part appears very dark. This is a technique I have borrowed from my glass designs where I use textured opaque areas so that some colour is visible in a variety of light conditions. So far I’m happy with the installation which is still in progress - the colours are spot on.

Door at back of babies’ room with lights on and off: Back of children’s room

Door at back of babies’ room with lights on and off: Back of children’s room

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.