My very good and long time friend, Cindy West from Corn Hill, contacted me to request something for her mother for Christmas 2016. Cindy and I go way back. We started grade 1 together in Havelock, she rode to school on my Dad’s bus for many years and we graduated together from grade 12 class of ’76 PRHS … and together with Monica we all have a strong connection. For ideas on what to make for Marie (her mom), she likes birds and enjoys them at her feeder, especially the chickadees (so did my dad). One year, Cindy’s parents also had a cardinal visit the feeder which was very special for them.
So the design concept was easy… a cardinal and chickadees in a birch tree. I perused the internet looking at images for inspiration and then drew my own pattern sizing it to 11″x14″ including a 1″ clear beveled glass border all around. Birch trees in particular are interesting for their varied bark so I incorporated some patches for different colors. I sat the cardinal on a branch at mid panel with one chickadee above and another below. Perhaps they are communicating with each other as birds do around the feeder.
Selecting glass was fun as I envisioned a mottled background that would look like leaves in the distance. For that, I chose a beautiful Urobos fracture glass with greens, purples, blues and black lines through it. I used a Urobos red fusing glass for the cardinal. It passes good light (normally fusing glass is very opaque). For the chickadees, a combination of black, gray, white and beige… very similar to the four colors for the birch tree. One of my favorite design elements in this panel is how the lower chickadee is camaflauged against the birch tree trunk… just like it would be in real life.
Pattern creation, duplication and preparing tracing pieces took 5 hours. Cutting and grinding the glass took a day (8 hrs). Foiling took 8 hrs. Soldering and framing took 6 hours. Washing and polishing a further 3 hours for a total project time of around 30 hours. A very enjoyable experience and I learned lots about lots of stuff.
One challenge was dealing with glass of different thicknesses… such as the background fracture glass (very thick at 3/16″ in spots) compared to the red cardinal glass (very thin at less than 1/8″). I knew that if I soldered the panel face side up, the cardinal would look receded against the thicker background. I wanted him to pop out, not look sunk in. So, I flipped the entire paned upside down for first tacking. This way, the thinner glass would fall forward and be flush with the thicker glass on the front side. That worked great.
Monica and I delivered the finished panel to Cindy at her home and we’re very pleased that she loved it and looked forward to surprising her mom with this original piece of art from Nellyglass. She promised to send me a photo of her mother with her cardinal and chickadees.