This is an independent assessment of the stained glass course by Anne Marie , who came on the one day basic course in May 2011
My Diary of a wonderful day : Basic Stained Glass Window Making Course
For many years I’ve admired from a distance the intricate artistry of stained glass windows and this year I decided to take a closer look. After scanning the internet for beginner classes, I found Andrew’s basic stained glass window course. Of all the bewildering array of stained glass products you can make, only Andrew’s focuses specifically on windows. This was what I was interested so I booked myself in. I knew there would be aspects of the course I would find really difficult. Nevertheless I was willing to try my best and get cut!
As soon as I walked through the door on an overcast May morning I was struck with the warm atmosphere in the studio. Andrew won me over immediately with his calm but confident manner. His instructions were incredibly clear and I loved the way we really did start at the beginning: how to cut glass. At first I didn’t use enough pressure to cut the glass so Andrew gave me another glass cutter with an angled head. This worked beautifully and I realised how easy it really was.
After mastering straight lines, we progressed onto curves. This was much easier than straight lines mainly because I was deliberately curving ‘freehand’ rather than following a particular line. Just as I was getting into the swing of things it was time for a coffee break.
Returning to the studio, Andrew gave us a design template made up of curves and straight lines and asked us to cut out a part of the template. This was a bit of a shock as it seemed a big leap to go from randomly cutting glass to a more deliberate approach. Nevertheless, it quickly became clear that cutting out the template was a natural progression from the curve exercise.
Once we had mastered the part of the template, Andrew showed us four or five window templates and asked us to choose one to make. I chose one that reminded me of Piet Mondrian’s famous Composition pieces. I love clear structures and this was a piece constructed of all straight lines that wouldn’t test me too much in terms of my cutting abilities. Furthermore this would free up my mind to take on board other creative elements.
My favourite part was choosing the glass. Never before had I considered the colour, texture, density, transparency of glass and seeing an array of beautiful shades of blue, red and yellow with different textures and patterns was magical. This is where my creatively went into overdrive and I could see a thousand different combinations.
Lunch was amazing. If you have seen the photo for the buffet, it is exactly as you see it. What’s more, is it’s all made by Mrs Seddon with a lot of love and care. There are generous proportions and everything is very fresh. It had struck me earlier when we broke for coffee earlier that morning that it wasn’t just tea and coffee on offer but really lovely biscuits too. Having such good quality food and drink presented in such a professional way left me with the impression that the clients are really valued.
Keen to return to our windows, after lunch we finished cutting and positioning, ready to lead them windows. This was fascinating and quite tricky too. I kept getting my lead a couple of millimetres out so they were either a little too short or long. Andrew was always on hand to help, though, and he showed me what I was doing wrong.
Eventually all the leading was in place and it was my second favourite part: soldering. As a teenager I’d been introduced to this nifty tool by a handy boyfriend, but had not touched one in years. This soldering iron was considerably larger than the little irons I’d used before and really exciting. I loved soldering and whipped through the task enthusiastically if not a tad messily. That left it ready for polishing and blacking which was just like polishing a pair of shoes. It was amazing what a difference it made. What was even more amazing, was that I really did have a little window to take home.
Leaning over the fence the next day, I proudly showed my neighbour the window I had made and was taken aback at how impressed she was. However, I shouldn’t have been. I had a masterclass with a mastercraftsman.
by Anne Marie : July 2011