Thursday, 8 November 2018

New York City Installation

A little story by Ali Rogers about an installation far away from its origin in Scotland. you know how your parents would tell you that one thing leads to another thing, and you never know exactly how a kindness plays out?

Well, please see the attached photo of a stained-glass piece....this was a closing gift from me to a buyer client, C.

C's day job is to hunt down corporations that are committing tax fraud, so she's really doing the Lord's work. I knew I wanted to get her something REALLY special.
As you can see, that ended up being a Stephen Richard original.

If Peter hadn't introduced me to Faith, who introduced me to John, who introduced me to Mark and Rhona, who introduced me to Stephen, it wouldn't have happened.

(Of course Stephen had to put up with about three dozen emails from me along the line too.)
But now, there's a little more happiness in the world, and a little more beauty. All because someone in Chicago thought I should meet someone in New York who though I should meet someone in England who thought I should meet someone in Scotland. Thank you all!!


Another view of the panel in place.

I'm really pleased that the panel arrived in New York City in one piece.  I'm also pleased that both "cleints" are pleased with the result.  It is the second NYC project.  It would be nice to get more.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

West End Rebuild

I was called out to look at a door panel that had been broken because a delivery person decided to knock on the glass rather than the door frame.  In doing so, he broke one pane and unshipped some others.  The client and I agreed on a price.  In removing it, it became apparent that there were even more broken joints than I noticed initially.  When we got it back to the studio, we began preparations to take it apart and rebuild it.

Beginning the dismantling after taking a rubbing

Placing the dismantled pieces on the rubbing
After the rebuild, we installed the door panel with great success.

Installed door pane from the inside
Re-instated door panel from the outside
The replacement glass is not apparent without close inspection, all the glass is clean and the lead and joints are sound for a few more generations.

Sunday, 11 March 2018


The big aperture drop for the Willow Tea Rooms has been good experience for smaller projects.

I am in the process of helping to create an oval sink with a specific height, and dimensions at the top.  Rather than creating a custom mould, it was decided to do a free drop to the desired height with a flat bottom to the sink.

View from above of the slumped blank
An aperture in the desired shape was cut from a 25mm thick board and suspended on bricks at the correct height.  

The set up for the glass

It was set to fire and the person came in the evening to check on progress and advanced to the cooling when the desired amount of glass had touched down to the shelf.

Sink from the end
The flat excess glass was cut away with a tile saw. and then the polishing began.

trimmed and roughed edge

There is quite a bit more grinding to be done to get to the polish stage and then there will be the drilling of the drain for the plumbing fittings.  Only a few weeks until completion.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Willow Tea Rooms Baldacchino

Much of my time since December has been taken up with the planning, testing and execution of a baldaccnino for the Mackintosh Willow Tea Rooms restoration.
I don't know whether Mackintosh called the structure a baldacchino or not, but that is how it seems to be referred to by the restoration people.
Traditionally a baldacchino is an architectural structure over the altar of a church.  Here it is placed over the entrance from the anti-chamber to the tea room proper as shown  from the upper gallery in this indistinct photograph. 

My part in this has been to develop the glass bowl forming the structure for the flower arrangements that you see supported by a column and a surrounding metal structure.
The original remit was to make an inverse dome 800mm in diameter with a 400mm depth.  In fact, half a sphere.  The glass would need to be at least 8mm thick. This is too heavy to blow, so a kilnforming method was looked toward.  
It would be possible to construct a metal mould to slump the glass into. (ceramic would be too heavy and even more costly).  This was rejected as being too costly and possibly subject to breakage due to the steep sides.
I indicated to the lead artist on the project that a free drop could provide a good approximation to the original without the markings from a mould. After discussion I was commissioned to make a prototype or example of what could be done with a free drop in a large gas kiln.  I am fortunate to work in a studio complex that contains a large ceramic studio that has a gas kiln of a bit more than a cubic metre interior.

The test involved cutting an 800mm circle from a metre square fibre board of 25mm thickness.  The 1000mm diameter disc of 10mm glass was centred over this aperture in the gas kiln.

Test 1 from the top
This shows the result of the first test including the supporting structure within the kiln.

Test 1 from the bottom
This proof of concept was accepted by the trust, but with a request for a deeper form.

For the second test I used 12mm glass, now realising where it was to be located and that, as it was to be deeper, to avoid excessive thining as the glass dropped.
Test 2 from the top
Initially this looked to be really good.  The depth was 340mm, much closer to what was envisaged by the Trust representatives.  (We did have a two-person film crew watch us take out the second test and put in the third, requiring some planning of what we were going to do for the benefit of the filming).  
Test 2 from the left
But looking from underneath, it became apparent that it was not symmetrical.
Test 2 from the right
A bit of head scratching and testing showed two things.  
As we were only able to use one of the two gas burners, the glass was moving toward that heat. We alleviated the unsymmetrical shape by adding baffles.  
The other thing showed by the tests for uneven firing was that we could not provide a sphere at the original depth specified. The weight of the glass pulled the whole into a parabolic shape, even though it was symmetrical.
Further discussions and investigations of the photographic evidence returned the decision that spherical was the shape required and we should try for the deepest we could get and still have a spherical shape.

Subsequent testing provided two acceptable shapes of 235mm deep.
comparisons of tests.
This image shows the first test in the middle, the second deeper at the back and at the front, the approved shape.

When we had two pieces (one to be spare for any future breakage) the other people involved came to do mock ups, take templates of the curves and generally discuss next stages.
mock up of the plate to hold the flower containers

mock up from the side
Soon we will be taking these to Stornoway to apply oil industry machinery to cut the rim from the shape.  When the polishing of that cutting is done, we will be travelling to Norfolk to apply marine technology to the glass, using chemical toughening.

These will be well traveled pieces of glass when complete. Only a few months to go.

To learn more about the restoration of the Willow Tea Rooms, go to