I was commissioned to do two birthday gifts for Monica’s brother, Ralph, who turns 80 this year. One for an indoor window and one for the outdoor garden. Ralph’s daughter, Catherine, approached me in April and asked if I had ever done anything with antique glass plates. I had not but always admired and wanted to work with depression glass so I was excited at the prospects. Her timing was excellent as Monica and I were just heading off on a springtime road trip to USA where we found some great antique shops throughout North Carolina, Missouri and Iowa. Shopping for plates was a fun adventure.
Back at the studio, the choice of which glass to use was difficult with so many options. For the 11″ round garden ornament, with Monica’s help I chose a clear candy dish with ornate green rim. I created a radial design setting the dish against an irridescent whispy green/pink glass embedded with 9 beveled jewels. Later I mused how it symbolized big brother Ralph and his nine siblings. I framed it with 1/4″ zinc came and mounted it in a garden frame. It should be strong enough to face the elements in a sheltered corner of the garden where the jewels will cast sun-drops throughout the garden.
For the 18″x24″ window panel, I chose four colored plates all with a geometric design (pink, blue, yellow and green), three clear glass curtain florets, two clear glass fans and one clear plate. I played with several arrangements before settling on what I thought gave best color distribution across the panel. The 2″ border is made from irridescent clear hammered glass with shots of pink, blue, yellow and green throughout.
All the deep curves in the clear background glass made for tricky cutting, grinding, foiling and soldering. However, the result is a serpentine flow in the design from one roundel to the next … I really liked that. The panel also changes illumination throughout the day and into night with the house lights on. I like that dynamic cycle too. I learned new things about working with different edged and different depth pieces of glass and grew in my craft as a result. I’m thankful for that too.
What a thrill that Catherine asked me to be part of her father’s 80th birthday surprise. I am very honored to make these panels for Ralph and Georgie Lee.