One of the best parts of the job of being a stained glass artist is the unexpected requests that clients bring. A recent commission I had was for a very special design for an internal door that would be a memorial for the lady’s young son, who had sadly died.
She wanted these stained glass windows to be bright and cheerful to celebrate his life. They also needed to include lots of aspects, representing things that he had enjoyed. We chatted over some of the ideas she had, including the necessity of having Lego Batman and Lego Joker figures. These had been some of his favourite toys.
She put together a ‘mood board’ of different things as inspiration for the stained glass design. There were images of lovely patchwork quilts she had made him, the Everton football team shield, photos of his favourite guinea pig and pet chicken, plus flowers to represent his love of nature.
The client is a very creative lady and loves bold colours, so we agreed on some rich yellows and purples for the design. I suggested a particular textured glass that looks like small, natural flower stems, to represent the pattern of a quilt. She loved that idea. She also wanted an Art Nouveau feel, to give the designs life and movement.
It was quite a challenge to bring so many disparate ideas together into a cohesive design. As the door panels were quite tall and narrow, I started with the quilt pattern across the top and bottom of the design. These horizontal strips would shorten the centre sections and give a sense of greater width.
Within the quilt areas, I added the Batman, Joker, guinea pig and chicken in small squares of equal size. Their red backgrounds would bring a pop of rich colour and tie the design together.
I was puzzling over how to include the Everton shield and then had the brainwave of using the outline of the shield to create an Art Nouveau sweep on each panel. When installed next to one another, the two curves would make up the shape of the shield. This shape would be significant to the family, while seamlessly fitting the Art Nouveau style.
She was keen to have bright and beautiful daffodils, so these were the central feature of the design, set against a sky blue glass.
I was pleased with how the design all came together and the client loved it instantly.
The next challenge was to make the design a reality in stained glass.
I used a mixture of techniques, including glass paints for the detailed features of the animals and Lego characters, copper foil technique to make their bodies, and traditional lead for the remainder of the design.
Steel strips were added within the leads to bring extra strength to the stained glass panels.
It was a real joy to be able to design and make such a truly personal and unique memorial in stained glass for a lovely family.