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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Peacocks Revealed

Friends have been asking for step-by-step process photos of my peacock windows.  Fortunately for you, that's not possible... the peacock windows were made over a year, weathering various home, employment, and family events and upheavals. I'm posting a few photos here for the curious, and also because it's kind of nice to leave a record. 

The process started with a rather lengthy dialog as my clients decided first if they wanted me to do the project for them, and then working with me on the design concept.  Once we settled on that, it took me some time to draw out the patterns to my satisfaction.  At one point I visited a zoo to refresh my understanding of how peacocks pose, walk, and drag their tails.

The entire pattern is quite a bit larger than I am, and I had the paper spread out over the living room floor, with the furniture shoved to the sides. I did them first in pencil; when I was satisfied with the pattern, I went over each line with felt pen to mark the cutting lines.

I worked with about a hundred different colors of glass. Every sheet of glass is marked with a code that indicates manufacturer, surface texture, color, and saturation (there are only a very few that I know by heart, just for the record).  That code had to be transferred onto each of the thousands of pattern sections. By laying the glass out next to the pattern, I could immediately find the color I wanted. After the codes had been marked on the pattern, I put the glass away so we wouldn't be stepping on it every day for a year.

Then it was time to start cutting glass. 
The thousands of pieces in the windows multiplied by as many cuts as I needed to prepare each piece, because no piece can be cut with only one motion. I worked each window separately, and worked each window in multiple sections.  Here is my work station as I prepare the corner of window, most likely the bottom right piece of one of the lower windows, which are almost all peacock tail.
After pieces were cut, ground, washed, and belted with copper foil, I soldered them. This photo shows me soldering one of the upper windows. Soldering the larger windows was backbreaking work. Not that I'm complaining - I'm sure there are much harder ways to make a living!
As each section was prepared, I situated it in its final place, taking care that the window dimensions were exact. You can still see the gaps between the sections here... I soldered those last of all. There were a few gaps that were even wide enough to fill with more glass, giving the window a feeling of flowing feathers, rather than lots of lead.
Once each window was completely soldered up on both sides, it was time to apply patina, a mild acid that stains the metals.  Patina doesn't harm glass - it's not strong enough to etch it. Since it's a skin irritant, I always wear gloves when applying it.  You can see where the seams are black (where the acid has been wiped on) and where they are still silver (not for long!), the natural color of the soldered seams.
After the windows were completed, I transported them (with David's generous help, because there was no way to load those things into my car by myself!) to the clients' home.  They scheduled a team of glaziers to install them.  Although the photos here are appearing one after another (it looks like it took no time at all!), we actually installed them in three visits.  In the first visit, we installed the upper and lower left windows.  The lower window was installed so quickly I didn't even get a photo of it, just dropped into place, really. Here they are installing the upper window in its frame. The glazier on the left is so extraordinarily tall that I couldn't get his feet and head in the same photo.

We met a second time to install the upper right window.
And we met a last time to install the lower right window. All in all the installation was an amazing experience!
Just to give you a sense of size, If I were to stand alongside the window, my head would probably be resting below the gray back feathers of the peacock (and I'm not particularly short).  These are HUGE windows.  And I'm very proud of them.

1 comment:

Sunny Day said...

What awesome, amazing work.
Takes my breath away.

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