Friday, November 28, 2008

Klimt Mosaic Part 2

Beginning with the faces and working down the robes of the figures, Bill incorporated lustre glass, minute details and pressed glass lustre jewels to create the effects he wanted to impart in this large mosaic. He also used shards of mirrored glass to give the figures a unique look.

Klimt used many techniques to alter the surface of the canvas when creating paintings. One of the challenges on this mosaic piece was to create different looks for each of the fabrics which are all in gold tones. Using lustre glass, shifts in color and transparency were utilized to make the woman's dress different from the cloak of the man that enfolds her in his embrace.

Once the figures were completely rendered in glass, the field of wildflowers had to be put down. Letting the pressed glass lustre flower jewels cascade from the woman's hair and dress down into the lower floral portion gives the impression that she has just been gently lifted by her lover to be embraced, and that many of the wildflowers in which she had laid became entwined onto her person.

The next stage of the mosaic was to put down a lustre background that complimented, but did not compete with the main image. The subtle tonalities of the background glass support and enhance the golden tones of the radiant figures.

The final step in the construction of this piece was to grout the entire surface of the mosaic which filled the spaces between the pieces. Bill grouted the mosaic in small sections and once the grout had dried and hardened, the mosaic was framed and made ready for delivery. The Manhattan clients who commissioned this piece have hung the work in their home. The composite photo below shows the progression of the piece from beginning to completion.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Klimt Mosaic Part 1

Readers of this blog will know we have mentioned that Bill has been working on a large mosaic project. The piece is based on the painting The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. At approximately 30" x 40", this large wall hanging mosaic was a major project, and one that Bill had to work on by himself since mosaic requires a different construction method than a stained glass window. While Bill was elbow deep in tiny shards of glass, Irwin tackled the 18" Lotus Lamp (see postings from Nov, 3, 10, 17 & 21).

To begin this project, Bill had to make a full sized cartoon just like he would do for any window project. Once the drawing was completed, a paper copy was made by hand and the work of selecting the glass could begin. Whereas window cartoons are exact blueprints for the glasswork, mosaic cartoons are used more as guides because the piece will change as it is being constructed.

Mosaic pieces of glass are cut and fit by hand and then are cemented to a backing. Once the image is completed, the piece is grouted to fill in the gaps. The finished mosaic panel will be be viewed for the reflective qualities of the glass so we usually use lots of lustre and iridescent glasses to provide a shimmering surface.

Once Bill completed the cartoon, the work of cutting and fitting the glass began. He started with the faces of the figures and worked out from there.

Starting with the faces of the figures, Bill used the cartoon as a reference and had a paper pattern that he cut up to help determine the shapes on the finished pieces. Below is a photo of the completed faces without grout. Grouting does not happen until all the glass is laid down. Our next posting will show the rest of the process for this piece.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The 18" Lotus Lamp Completed

Now finished, the 18" Lotus shade is a riot of impressionistic color and texture. The water glass has a wonderful purple tone which is difficult to find in modern art glass. Made by Schlitz Studios in the early 1990's, this water glass was one of Jim Schlitz's signature glasses. After Jim Schlitz's death in the mid-90's, his Milwaukee studio and its unique glass foundry closed for good. Schlitz glass is highly prized and sought out by stained glass artists. We have been saving the water glass for this shade for almost 15 years, and feel it was worth the wait to finally use it!

The flower colors in this lamp are created from a mix of Schlitz, Lins (another highly prized glass company that sadly is also out of business), Oceana and Uroborous glasses. Irwin chose the glass for this shade for the intensity and variety needed to make this impressionistic water garden come alive.

The completed shade is mounted on the 10 light Pond Lily bronze reproduction base that was created by Studio Disselhoff in the late 1990's. Obviously, this lamp was a long time in coming, with many of the unique materials waiting until Irwin had the time to work on this lit sculpture.

The lamp was created as a studio piece for our showroom, but has been purchased by an Iowa couple for their collection.

Monday, November 17, 2008

18" Lotus Lamp, Part 3

After many weeks of diligent work, Irwin has completed the 18" Lotus Lamp. Soldering the shade began once all the pieces of glass were cut, fit and foiled by hand (see blog posts from November 3 & 10). Soldering shades with tiny pieces takes extra time and patience so that the solder does not obscure the minute pieces of glass. Special care had to be taken towards the top of the shade where the pieces are especially long and narrow.

Once the outside of the shade was completely soldered, the form with the shade attached was heated so the wax, which held the individual pieces in place before being soldered, would melt and let go. Irwin gently lifts the hot form out of the soldered shade in the photo below.

The next step in construction was to solder an extensive system of reinforcement wires to the inside inside of the shade. These copper wires add strength to the finished shade, but are not visible on the outside when the shade is lit. Reinforcement wires are positioned along the interior lead lines and soldered in place. The rest of the interior then had to be soldered before the the shade was ready to be cleaned, copper plated and finally patinated.

Next posting: The completed lamp!! Here is a sneak preview of what the finished shade looks like:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Woman in the Woods Window

We recently had the good fortune to have one of our early windows in the studio to be photo- graphed. This "Woman in the Woods" window was created as a studio piece in 1994, and was sold from the showroom. It recently changed hands and the current owner brought it by for us to revisit and photograph.

Inspired in part by an original Tiffany Studios window, this impressionistic piece has three plated layers of glass which gives the image depth and fullness. There is extensive use of fracture/streamer glass and drapery glass is utilized for the figure's gown. Bill once again has painted the facial features and hair. The face was painted on a larger piece of clear glass with green fracture and streamers, some of which was acid etched to remove the fracture. There is no lead line around the face which gives the profile a softer effect. The borders of this piece are a little more elaborate than usual and enhance the jewel-like qualities of the window.

Monday, November 10, 2008

18" Lotus Lamp, Part 2

Work has been progressing on the 18" Lotus Lamp which Irwin has been creating. Once all four sections were cut and fit, the time consuming work of hand wrapping each individual piece of glass in copper foil began.

Following the foiling of each piece of glass, the lamp pieces have been transferred onto the three dimensional form and put into place. The fiberglass form has been coated with an exclusive Century Studios' beeswax mixture that allows the wax to become tacky so it will hold the glass pieces in place. Once the entire lamp is transferred onto the form, Irwin will begin soldering the lamp shade.

Tiffany Studios designed a unique lamp base for the 18" Lotus shade. Beginning with a cluster of cast bronze lily pads at the bottom, ten "stems" move up inside the shade and curve back downwards, each stem ending in a light socket. Because of the depth of this shade, the lights form two undulating rows which light the upper and lower portions of the lamp. As with many early Tiffany Lamp designs which had specific shade and base combinations, this base can only be used with the 18" Lotus shade.

A smaller version of this base was created for the 16" Snowball shade. The bronze lily pad base is more petite than the larger version and has six lights instead of ten. Once again, three lights are positioned towards the top while the remaining three cascade down to light the lower portion of the shade. At Century Studios, we make both versions of this unusual Tiffany base in bronze with a verdigris patina. The light switch on these bases is a cast bronze lily pad located in the cluster of foliage near the bottom of the lamp.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Christmas at Century Studios

This past weekend, we put up our annual Century Studios Holiday display. Stop by our showroom and browse our selection of Christmas tree ornaments, gift items and hand made stained glass holiday suncatchers. In addition to our lamps, we have a variety of art pottery and blown glass vases which make great gift items.

Monday, November 3, 2008

18" Lotus Lamp, Part 1

Since Bill has been busy working on a large mosaic project for a client, Irwin decided it was time to revisit one of the most complex patterns we offer - the 18" Lotus Lamp. We made the Lotus pictured on the left about 20 years ago, and have only made this lamp on commission since then, so we felt it was time to make another example for our showroom. The overall look of the piece Irwin is currently creating will be deeper in tone than the one pictured.

The 18" Lotus Lamp is one of those Tiffany Studios lamp patterns with multiple names. It is interchangeably referred to as the Lotus, Flowering Lotus and Descending Lotus shade. On the original Tiffany Studios' price list it was called a Pond Lily, but so were about 6 other lamp designs. To dispel some of the confusion we refer to it as the Lotus pattern. Tiffany Studios only made about eight examples of this early lamp.

In laying out this lamp Irwin is using a stash of glass he has been saving for years, specifically for this pattern. Beginning with a blue fracture/streamer water glass that was made by Schlitz Studios, Irwin began the painstaking process of laying out the water and stems. While only 18" in diameter, this shade has close to 1800 individual pieces of glass. The delicate stem and water pieces become mere slivers as they converge towards the top of the shade. Most hand rolled art glass is approximately 1/8" thick, so these needle shaped pieces get very tricky to cut, fit and foil by hand.

Once the water and flower stems were cut and fit, selecting the glass for the flowers could begin. The glass for each flower petal and leaf was carefully chosen to create an impressionistic water garden. In the above left photo you can see how individual flowers are composed and checked on the light table. In the photo to the right, you can see one section of the lamp that is ready to be hand foiled before transferring the pieces onto the waxed lamp form. Many hours were spent selecting the flowers and looking through our library of glass to find just the right colors and textures to make the pattern come alive. The complete Lotus Lamp has four repeats of this pattern section.

We will do more postings on this elaborate project as it progresses. Below, you can view all four sections of the lamp in a row.