Shelley and her dog Sadie

My good friend from NBCC, Cindy Mitchell, commissioned a birthday gift for her sister, Shelley, who lives in British Columbia. Cindy already had subject matter in mind and sent me some photos for reference.  Shelley is an avid angler and I was very envious looking at shots of her landing massive trout in pure mountain streams. One photo even shows Shelley’s Chesapeake Bay retriever, Sadie, in the water with her as she works the fly down the river. What wonderful subject matter!

The first task was to produce a preliminary sketch that I felt I could turn into a workable pattern. I drew on paper and scanned/sent my idea to Cindy via email for her input. She approved right away.

Once details and pattern numbers (164) were added, I blew the sketch up to full size (14″x20″) using three legal size pieces of paper taped together. I also printed a second copy and cut that up into tracing pieces.

Selecting the glass was a trip and a half as there were so many possible correct choices for everything from trees to water. I spun in circles for awhile pulling sheets of glass off the shelves to examine on the light table. Eventually, I just had to go with my instincts. Yet, I still made changes later during assembly if I felt a particular choice wasn’t working. One color was not up for debate and that was Shelley’s signature pink fishing vest and cap.

After the second day, I realized just how ambitious this pattern is, requiring extra deep grinding and precision spacing. That’s not a bad thing as I feel the complexity brings energy to the scene. Throughout the entire panel, I used 4 different sized grinder bits; 1/8″, 1/4″, 3/4″ and 1″, and wore the two small ones completely out. Very intensive grinding… equally intensive artistic experience. I finished grinding on the 7th day… and then I rested… on the back deck in the sunshine with Monica… there was wine.

The next day was also relaxing as I got to sit in my comfy chair in the living room all day and foil glass pieces. Monica is very tolerant while I disrupt her livingroom decor for short periods of time. I do that quite often 😐 The deep curves in the glass slowed me down a bit as the copper foil is very delicate and can’t be rushed around tight turns or it will split… I was reminded of that a few times. What the slow pace does, however, is extend the foiling phase which I love because I get to sit in my comfy chair in the living room 🙂

Soldering, framing, cleaning, patina application and waxing all took place on the same day. I let the wax dry overnight and polished it the next morning. Then I painted the frame with Tremclad® rust paint. Finally, the details of Shelley’s mouth and fingers and Sadie’s eyes were added with black marker (not permanent).

Taking about 60 hours, this was a wonderful project for me… partly because of the original design work and also because I love fish and fishing. Special thanks to Cindy for bringing this challenge to me. I really enjoyed making it and I hope the panel forever reminds Shelley of the special times she had fishing with her dog, Sadie.

Below is a photo gallery showing highlights of the construction progress.


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