This wonderful little panel was commissioned by my best friend since childhood, Ron Nelson and his wife, Debbie, as a gift for their son, Daniel and his partner Andrea, at Christmas 2016. Debbie contacted me in November and we tossed around some ideas. Daniel and Andrea are avid outdoor sports and nature buffs so Deb thought something along a wildlife theme might be nice. With some discreet investigation, Deb learned that whenever Andrea sees a woodland hawk, it reminds her of her late father. That sounded like a wonderful concept, especially at Christmas.
The Nelson’s gave me lots of time (6 weeks…and I took it all right to the week before Chrismas). Nevertheless, I started early looking around the Internet for inspiration. Of all the resident woodland hawks here in eastern Canada, the Sharp-shinned Hawk is one of the prettiest with its red eyes and orange and white striped breast feathers. Not much bigger than a pigeon, they are fast and deadly as they flit among the trees hunting for prey throughout our forests. I found several nice images of this beautiful little raptor until I finally settled on a photo of a sculpture by Patrick R. Godin of Ontario done in 1997. The artist sculpted an adult (both sexes look the same) with its wings up for balance as it alights on a white pine branch. It nicely shows off the striped breast feathers. I decided to use this pose but substituted the pine needles for a background of Urobos fracture glass that looks like foliage in the distance.
The pattern was created in Microsoft Word, framed in an oval shape, sized to 10″x8″ and then printed on 8.5×11″ paper for the addition of the solder lines with black marker. It worked out to more than 60 pieces to the pattern, many of them quite small especially around the feet and head. Satisfied with the design, I scanned and duplicated the pattern for cutting up as tracing pieces. Total time for pattern work was 4 hours.
My excitement grew as I started selecting glass from my studio inventory. I had just about everything I would need except glass for the striped breast of the hawk. That meant a trip to Stained Glass Creations by Ruby in Saint John. There I found glass that would do nicely.
The first 6 hours in the studio saw the bird and background cut and ground to fit. Another 3 hours finished the rest of the panel. Foiling was a happy 4 hours on a sunny Thursday afternoon. (17 hrs to date). I especially liked adding the beak and talons of the bird. To achieve that, I cut out foil overlays to stick on the glass.
Because the Urobos background glass is quite a bit thicker than the rest of the glass, I reassembled the panel in reverse for soldering. This way the thinner glass would fall forward and be flush with the thicker glass on the front side of the panel.
Up at 3 am for no other good reason than to get to the studio and start soldering… and 6 hours flew by like that (snap!). I added a strip of 20 gauge wire all around the perimeter making two double hanging rings as I soldered along starting at the top center and working down over both sides. The wire is now part of the perimeter. It should be good and strong for the next 100 years or more. I realized after I got it all soldered and finished that the two hanging rings were not perfectly opposite each other (gruff & grumble). Nevertheless, these little snafus make the work authentically handmade ☺… and lessons do get learned 😑.
Happy with the look, it was on to the final stages and the final 2 hours including washing, patina application, polishing, chain addition and signature. Total time was approximately 25 hours and it turned out one of my favorites in a panel this size. I think it’s lovely and I’m very glad that Daniel and Andrea will have a Nellyglass original hanging in their window through which the light will always carry memories of Andrea’s dad.