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Totally Off-topic > Fun with Mermaids

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message 1: by Octobercountry (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
Over on the old AfterElton forums, we had an "art" thread on which I occasionally (and very self-indulgently) posted photographs of current work projects. (I usually photograph the glass items I make before I send them off to the shop I deal with.)

And I got to thinking, why don't I do the same thing here? We do have a "Totally Off-topic" folder for this sort of thing, after all....

Problem is, this year I haven't been making much of interest! I've been doing a lot of small items for the shop, but not much really worth noting. Still, I dug up a few photos to start with...

These mermaid panels were specifically ordered by the owner of the shop---she supplied the pattern. They're very simple pieces---each only took about eleven hours to put together---but I thought it was interesting to see the variations you can get using the same pattern, depending on the choice of glass....

message 2: by Liz (new)

Liz Winters (lizwinters) | 54 comments These are beautiful. I like the differences in the colors and textures of the glass and even though I actually tried, I can't pick a favorite.

message 3: by PaperMoon (new)

PaperMoon | 665 comments Very nice ... I can think of a place in my home where to place the third one.

message 4: by Mercedes (new)

Mercedes | 373 comments OC these are beautiful!! I didn't know you made this type of things. Beautiful!

message 5: by Octobercountry (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
Many thanks to all of you for your kind comments. These mermaids are inconsequential---it's just a "craft fair" sort of item---but I did enjoy choosing the glass to make each one of the three totally different from the others.

message 6: by Octobercountry (last edited Aug 23, 2013 03:33PM) (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
At the dawning of the new year, I felt very ambitious and thought that I'd do quite a few lampshades over the course of the next twelve months. Well... so much for the best laid plans and all. Here we are at the end of August and I've only made three lampshades this year.

The most ambitious was a reproduction of an old Tiffany Studios design---the 18 inch tulip shade. Let's see here.... this contains 849 pieces of glass, and took 105 hours to complete. As such, it was one of the most time-consuming designs I've done, but at the same time it wasn't particularly difficult---this was an easy pattern to cut.

When the shade was completed, I really did NOT care for it---not in the least. (I would have liked it much more if the tulips were red, rather than yellow/orange.) However, after living with it for a few months, I found that I was rather fond of it; it didn't look so bad to my eyes after all.

I'll show you a few photos, but please do remember that stained glass always looks MUCH better in person, than in pictures! It's difficult to photograph glass with any degree of accuracy. (For instance, some of the leaves, border pieces, and petals look like they're the same colour---and in reality, they are very, very different.):

Getting started:

Putting it together:

Woohoo, finished:

Here's a big fat close-up:

From the top:

message 7: by Mercedes (new)

Mercedes | 373 comments I wish I had any sort of artsy/crafty skill! I admire you for that.

The lamp is nice. But maybe the flowers are yellow so more light gets through right? instead of through red would make it dim.

You need to post more stuff you make :-)

message 8: by Octobercountry (last edited Aug 25, 2013 08:17PM) (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
Mercedes wrote: " But maybe the flowers are yellow so more light gets through right?"

Well, in this case, it may be more a case of the light bulbs making "hot spots" in the photograph, which don't appear at all while viewing the lamp in real life. The flowers are predominantly orange, not yellow, but you'd never guess it from the photographs.

Argh---maybe I should just have waited to tackle this shade at a time when I had some really nice red glass on hand, instead of using the orange I had...... (Though, on the other hand, I looked at the orange sheets and thought, man, this is really nice glass, so...)

Well.... can't change it now! Or perhaps even pink would have been nice---but I already had a tulip shade (in a smaller size) in pink and didn't want to repeat myself.

At any rate.... I'll go ahead and post any new projects I complete in the future....or repost some of the old ones from the previous forum...

message 9: by Octobercountry (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
Well, I recently bought my very first stained glass panel---woohoo.

Hmmm, it may seem a bit odd that I'd buy something that I could (theoretically) make for myself. But I took a liking to this piece the moment I saw it; has a definite art deco vibe to it, I think, and it's very nicely done.

So, why didn't I simply construct a very similar panel for myself and save some money? Well, I don't do painted work at all (this requires a kiln, which I don't have---not to mention the fact that I don't have any particular skill in painting in the first place). And I thought that after all these years of making panels, I'd treat myself to one that someone else did.

Here are a couple of photographs of the Saint Christopher panel. First a long shot:

And then some detail:

Actually, I suppose part of the reason I was drawn to this is that it immediately put me in mind of one of my favourite childhood books, The Children of Green Knowe, in which the legend of Christopher plays a major part. Anyone else remember that book? It's the first in a fantasy series for young people---the stories have been filmed twice, at least.

Oh, if anyone has forgotten the legend, here is what the picture is all about (description courtesy of writer Catherine Yronwode):

While there may have been a 3rd century Greek martyr named Christopher, the story told of him is now generally acknowledged to be a 12th century addendum to the Christian canon. Christopher is typically depicted as a tall, middle-aged, bearded man with a staff who wades across a river carrying the Christ child on his shoulders.

As the story goes, the extremely robust Christopher devoted his life to carrying people across an otherwise unfordable stream. One day a little child appeared before him and asked to be carried across. To Christopher's surprise, as he forded the river, the child steadily increased in weight until Christopher found his tiny burden so heavy that it was amost impossible to bear. When he asked the holy babe why he weighed so much, the child replied that he carried the world's sins upon his shoulders. As a reward for his service, Christopher's staff was miraculously transformed into a living tree, and Christopher himself became the Patron Saint of travellers.

message 10: by Octobercountry (last edited Aug 29, 2013 10:54PM) (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
In the post above, I mentioned that the Christopher panel is in a completely different style than the work I do myself. So, for contrast, here are a few examples of things I've done in the past.

For the most part I'm drawn to what you might call late-Victorian domestic glass. These are the sorts of windows that were very common in middle-class homes 125 years ago, though they're not really in style in the present day! Still, this is the sort of design I find appealing myself, and so it's what I focus upon.

I made these three examples within the past five years, I suppose. Two were sold, but I liked the torch quite a bit and so kept it for myself.

message 11: by Mercedes (new)

Mercedes | 373 comments All of those are so beautiful OC! The one you bought is really nice. The other ones too. You are totally making me want to own something so beautiful.

I was thinking of your panels two days ago. I was watching Harry potter and the Goblet of Fire and there's the scene where Harry is trying to find out what his egg says. In the bathroom there's a panel with a dancing mermaid. It looked like the ones you posted at the top.

message 12: by Octobercountry (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
Thanks Mercedes. I'm not sure if I'll get to doing any more of these panels this year or not---depends how busy I am with smaller items for the shop. But---I do have a few nice projects in the planning stages, so I'm excited about those...

message 13: by Liz (new)

Liz L. | 89 comments This is great Octy, I hadn't realized you'd started a forum on this here. I just love your stained glass work, thanks for sharing it with us!

message 14: by Jules (new)

Jules Jones (julesjones) Those are beautiful pieces, and I can see why you wanted to keep the torch piece.

message 15: by Octobercountry (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
Well, I've certainly not done much in the way of home renovation/maintenance this year, though there's so much that needs to be done, darn it. To a large extent this is simply due to a lack of both time and money, but still that's no excuse---there are a hundred little jobs I could be doing here, if I set my mind to it....

So, this weekend I tackled one such job. There's a "door to nowhere" here in the house that has been boarded up for nearly a decade. Such a door would lead to a magical land, in the fantasy novels I read---wouldn't that be cool?---but reality is far less interesting. It's just that there are plans to put a small addition on the back of the house, and this door is intended to lead to a small room that doesn't exist yet. But---the years roll by, and the addition remains unbuilt, and the door blocked off....

However, the door does have a nice stained glass window in it that has never been on display, naturally, since the doorway was closed off. Well, I finally thought, hey, I'd like to see some light coming through that window; why not enjoy it? So, yesterday I knocked a hole in the back of the house from the outside, where the door is, and put a window in the wall. The door itself is still unusable---it doesn't lead anywhere---but at least there's some light coming through it now.

I do like this window---I had made it years ago, at a time when I had a large stock of antique jewels on-hand, and I went a little over-the-top with them. It contains about 120 jewels, which sparkle in the light very nicely. The glass is a mix of old and new---for instance, just for fun I made the corner fans out of blue glass that was salvaged from discarded church windows, from the church in which I was baptised.

So---I'm happy to be able to view the lighted window after all this time. And best of all, the project cost practically nothing. I used all salvaged materials for the job (the outer window itself was salvaged from a burned Victorian that was demolished about a decade ago---I've been storing bits and pieces of the building in the barn for all this time). Total cost for the job was about $3.00, for a tube of caulking. Maybe this will inspire me to get going on some other household projects...

message 16: by PaperMoon (new)

PaperMoon | 665 comments Octobercountry wrote: "Well, I've certainly not done much in the way of home renovation/maintenance this year, though there's so much that needs to be done, darn it. To a large extent this is simply due to a lack of bo..."

Very nice Octobercountry ... I'm very impressed.

message 17: by Jules (new)

Jules Jones (julesjones) That's a lovely piece, and an interesting story behind it.

message 18: by Octobercountry (last edited Oct 18, 2013 11:12PM) (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
There are several major manufacturers producing stained glass in the United states, and today I made a visit to one of them; the Youghiogheny glass factory. I try to make this trip at least once a year; I'm really very fortunate that they are within a reasonable distance from my home, because I think they make some of the very best glass in the field.

Every time I step through the doors, however, I instantly feel overwhelmed. There's just SO MUCH to choose from; it's an embarrassment of riches. And I always want to buy more than I can afford! But every time I do come away with some really splendid glass.

So, now I'm all set for a number of projects that are in the planning stages. When (or if?!) any of them reach fruition, I'll likely post photos of the finished pieces on this thread.

I snapped a few photos today; these show only a tiny portion of what's available.

Oh, I should add that the members of the staff at Youghiogheny are incredibly pleasant and helpful; it's a pleasure to shop at such an establishment.

message 19: by Octobercountry (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
Busy, busy, busy.... Just completed a panel a couple of days ago and photographed it this morning. (The pictures didn't come out particularly well, but you can get a sense of what it looks like at any rate.)

It's a fairly typical vintage design, the sort of thing you'd find in an middle-class home in the 1880s. However, it's only a loose adaptation of the Victorian original. About a month ago, this photo of an antique piece caught my eye:

I liked it well enough to reproduce the pattern, though I didn't feel bound to copy it precisely. (For instance, I completely re-drew the patchwork border.) Here's how my version turned out:

In keeping with the vintage feel, I used a lot of antique glass and antique jewels on this one. About ten years ago I was lucky enough to get a couple of crates of vintage glass (circa 1900), and around the same time I also purchased a whole bunch of antique glass jewels (which are shaped very differently than modern jewels.) I've been using this glass and these jewels in projects ever since, but am sorry to say that with this project I've finally just about run out. Well---it was nice while it lasted! You can see some of the textures in the close-up:

Overall...... while not particularly memorable perhaps, it came out well enough and I like it. Wouldn't mind keeping it for myself, but it's headed off to the shop.

message 20: by Jax (new)

Jax | 980 comments Wow. That is just gorgeous. Love the colors. I continue to be in awe of your talent!

message 21: by Octobercountry (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
Thanks, you're very kind!

And here's another that I had done earlier in October (it was also made for the shop).

It also is very typical of 1880s domestic stained glass, in both pattern and colouring. In contrast to the rather loose adaptation of the floral design shown in my previous post, this panel is a very precise reproduction of an antique. It's smaller than the original, but otherwise is a faithful copy.

It's---okay, I suppose. It was a change of pace, at any rate. I don't usually make windows that are purely a geometric sort of design; I prefer to incorporate at least a few recognisable items into the pattern, whether it be flowers, torches, shields---you get the idea. So, this was a one-off; don't have anything similar to it planned for anytime in the future.

message 22: by Jules (new)

Jules Jones (julesjones) Even if you're not into the purely geometric designs, that is a lovely reproduction. I could have believed that it was a cleaned and restored original, because the textures are right.

message 23: by Octobercountry (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
Jules wrote: "Even if you're not into the purely geometric designs, that is a lovely reproduction. I could have believed that it was a cleaned and restored original, because the textures are right."


I appreciated the opportunity to work on these two larger panels last month, because many of the things I make for the shop are much smaller and simpler in scope.

At any given time I may have between five and ten panels on display in the store. The Victorian-styled pieces that I enjoy working on so much do always sell in the end, but sometime it may take a while!

I have a most unusual window in the planning stages at the moment; I'm hoping to work on it during the winter. It may prove to be a real conversation piece, or it could very possibly turn out to be a complete disaster---only time will tell. If I'm not too embarrassed by it I'll put a photo up on this thread, when (or if?) it's completed.

message 24: by Octobercountry (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
Woohoo, I've finished my last project for the year; this order is DONE. Now I can relax a bit and start to get ready for Christmas....

It came out okay---looks better when seen in person, as compared to the photograph below. This is a fairly accurate reproduction of another old Victorian pattern. At first I thought the combination of fish and flowers was a bit odd, but now I've decided I quite like it!

message 25: by Jax (new)

Jax | 980 comments Another beauty! You must hate to part with some of these when they're done. Enjoy your down time over the holidays.

message 26: by Jules (new)

Jules Jones (julesjones) Oh, that's nice. :-) My take on the fish/flowers thing is that it looks like a stylised version of a fishpond in a garden.

message 27: by Octobercountry (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
Woohoo, new lamp!  I've finally completed a shade that had been sitting, incomplete, in my work area for the past couple of months.

This was a special order from someone who wanted a gift for their father, who had recently moved to a new home in a rustic area full of pine forests.

They liked the shade seen below, a Chinese import that had been on offer a few years back.  The pinecone-and-needle motif was a good fit for the rustic look they were going for.

Unfortunately, the shade was no longer in production and could not now be purchased.  Also, they weren't all that happy with the shape of the pinecone on the shade.  So, I said I could make some alterations to the pattern (including a different type of pinecone) to create a new shade.

My goal was to take a modern design and make it look like something that could have been made 100 years ago.  The first task was to get an accurate grid on the form, a necessity when designing, using a laser level.  Hmmm, okay, I guess they didn't have lasers 100 years back when leaded stained glass shades were first produced!  So, my working methods aren't quite "in period," are they.... I repurposed a 16-inch poinsettia form for this new pinecone project.

Once I had a pattern drawn on the form, I copied it using thin tracing paper and then transferred that to poster-board, to make the pattern pieces I would cut out and use to mark the glass.  After the glass was cut, I started tacking it all together:


The pinecones I left till last, and what a pain they were to put together, with all those tiny pieces!   Once I had the lamp all pieced together, but before I did the final soldering, I decided to try it out on the base and see how it looked:

And..... something wasn't right.  It looked unfinished; I decided it needed an additional lower border.  So, I put that on, installed the brass rim and finished off the soldering, and there it was:

The completed piece is.... okay. Looking at the finished product, there are a few things I certainly would have done differently. However, it was a good learning experience in drawing up a pattern from scratch. I have plans to draw up a few more shade patterns, though I'm not sure when I'll get around to making them!

At any rate, it's a unique piece, because I'm NEVER doing another one. Those pinecones, with the tiny pieces, were a real pain to put together. When the lamp was completed I destroyed the pattern and sanded the design right off the form, so this really is a one-of-a-kind item now. I'm just glad it's finished! While the total construction time was only 88 hours, I've been working on it on and off over the past four months. It's sooo good to finally get this out of the way.

message 28: by PaperMoon (new)

PaperMoon | 665 comments Very nice shade Octobercountry. I would order one if I were living in your part of the world.

message 29: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten | 27 comments Wow, that's absolutely gorgeous. I love the in-process photos too.

I bought myself a mosaic made out of this colored glass for Christmas this year and I love it.

message 30: by Octobercountry (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
Kirsten wrote: "Wow, that's absolutely gorgeous. I love the in-process photos too.

I bought myself a mosaic made out of this colored glass for Christmas this year and I love it."

Thanks! And good to hear that you're enjoying your shade, too!

message 31: by Jules (new)

Jules Jones (julesjones) That's a lovely piece, even if it drove you nuts making it. And you're right, it needs that bottom border.

message 32: by Jax (new)

Jax | 980 comments Here are some pics of that lamp with the reverse-painted shade that we talked about over in Been to the Pictures Lately. This was a wedding gift to my grandparents who were married in 1928.

I could not find any maker's mark on it but the base is very heavy so it's hard to move around to get a good look.

message 33: by Octobercountry (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
What a nice keepsake that is! You must be reminded of your grandparents whenever you use it.

And the fact that the base features reverse-painted glass is a nice little bonus as well. The majority of these shades did not come with an integrated base, just interchangeable solid metal ones.

As I had noted previously, ornate leaded-glass shades were in fashion for a relatively brief time period; the heyday was (approximately) from 1902 through 1907. The financial crash in 1907 really killed off the market for very expensive lampshades (though simpler leaded shades continued to be made for another two decades). As an alternative to the leaded shade, many companies began producing reverse-painted shades, as well as slag-glass shades with metal overlays. Both were much cheaper to produce than leaded shades.

I believe your shade dates right near the end of the trend; by the very early thirties decorated glass shades of all types fell completely out of fashion, and were really looked at with disdain for many years, until interest in them revived in the mid 1960s.

(Hey, that's a coincidence---my grandparents married in 1928 also!)

message 34: by Jax (new)

Jax | 980 comments Yes, I'm very glad to have this piece of family history still with us. It's not nearly as beautiful as stained glass shades but it gives off a very nice glow, especially when it's the only thing lit in the room.

message 35: by Octobercountry (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
Jax wrote: "Here are some pics of that lamp with the reverse-painted shade that we talked about over in Been to the Pictures Lately. This was a wedding gift to my grandparents who were married in 1928...."

Oh, I forgot to note in my previous post, that (again, coincidentally) my grandparents also received an electric lamp as a wedding gift when they married in 1928. Unfortunately, it wasn't as fancy as yours---only had a typical cloth shade, though the base did feature some cool figures (some sort of mermaids, perhaps?)

However, funny thing was---they couldn't actually USE the lamp for nearly ten years, because they didn't have electricity! I don't think the farm was wired for electricity until about 1937 or so...

message 36: by Jax (new)

Jax | 980 comments Wow. And now here we are communicating via technologies unthinkable in their day. We've come so far in a relatively short time.

message 37: by Octobercountry (last edited Sep 11, 2015 09:26AM) (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
Well, I'm reminded that I haven't posted any new photos on this thread for quite some time. Hmmmm, maybe that's because I haven't made anything particularly interesting recently! I've been wanting to get back to making lamps, but it's been over a year since I finished the last one. Sigh....

Anyway, that last one was a "Snowball" shade, also sometimes referred to as the "Hydrangea." I snapped a few photos before it went off to the shop, but the colouring in the pictures isn't the least bit accurate, compared to how it appears when seen in person; I just couldn't get any good pictures of it. (The general hue is off, and the colouring appears too vivid in the photos as well.) Still, the photographs below show you what the pattern looks like, at any rate.

Tiffany Studios produced several Snowball shades in the early part of the last century, in a number of different shapes and sizes. This is perhaps the most commonly found shape, a 16-inch dome. The pricing on the antique originals varies a huge amount, depending on which base with which the shade is paired. I've seen one sold at auction for $10,000----and then seen another (which I didn't think was nearly as nice) sell for $119,000. Quite a difference!

I believe this pattern was dropped from the production line around 1910 or so.

Here it is from the side:

And here it is looking down at the top:

This is the third one of these I've made, and I think I'm about done with this particular shade; that's enough!

message 38: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten | 27 comments Octobercountry wrote: "Well, I'm reminded that I haven't posted any new photos on this thread for quite some time. Hmmmm, maybe that's because I haven't made anything particularly interesting recently! I've been wanti..."

Wow, that's really lovely, even if the colors didn't photograph correctly. :) I adore mosaic and glass art.

message 39: by Octobercountry (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
@Kirsten: Thanks! I'd really like to get back to working on lamps; maybe I can manage to do up a couple over the winter... I've been wanting to make a "Greek Key" for my own use (not to sell) for ages, but just haven't gotten to it yet...

message 40: by Jules (new)

Jules Jones (julesjones) Since I've finally remembered to log in at home so I can comment - That's a lovely piece. Thanks for doing the photos from both side and top, so we can get a good feel for it.

Always fun trying to get accurate colour photos, and that's before you get the effects of random monitors. What the eye can see and what the film or the CCD can see are two different things, as I learnt back in my days of staring down a microscope.

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