Monday, July 14, 2014

A Window for Castle Aaargh

Remember I said we were weeding, welding and working as fast as possible to get ready for the garden walks?  What a frenzy of activity it was...Carl had taken vacation from July 4-13 and while he was welding up propane tank 'balls' from July 4-7, Mom and I were weeding.  Joel came to help after work for days on end, too, and was indispensable mowing, weed-whacking, hauling pine needle mulch, pruning, all the stuff that needed doing.

Once the balls were complete, Carl set to the task of soldering Castle Aaargh's round window which took from July 8-10 to finish.  I know he felt guilty that he wasn't helping with the garden preparations, but I wanted the window finished (and off my dining room table!)

When we started this piece back in March, we had no idea what it would look like.  The design simply evolved by trial and error.

Last fall we purchased the glass inventory and tools from an artist who retired from the craft.  Among the things included in the sale were several lamps for which the glass had been cut out but not finished, primarily for straight panel lamps and several others consisting of small rectangular pieces of graduating sizes.  Since we didn't have much interest in finishing those shades, we decided to try to make use of the pieces in another way---a window for Aaargh.

 We decided to play with the glass pieces on the dining room table on top of a piece of plywood because it was the only area big enough to accommodate the 40" window.  I would often sit at the table and fiddle around with the pieces, trying to make a pleasant design come to life.
In the picture above, the longer blue and yellow glass had been intended by the original artist to be straight-sided panel lamps, but their long tapered shapes worked well with a radiating pattern.

 We had buckets of glass pieces to work with and tried to find a way to make the best use of them.
We did a lot of cutting and grinding and foiling as the design unfolded.
It was my idea to make the herringbone edge on the outside border, and the next row of square orange and blue tiles worked out well, too.  Then it was back to trying to decide what to do next, laying the pieces out and trying to work out a pleasing look.  Carl came up with a great design for the center and we had one lovely glass medallion for the middle which worked out very well.

Finally the window was ready for solder.    In late June our son David came home and soldered for six hours while we weeded in preparation for the hosta convention tour and Carl put in time here and there whenever he could, but it still took approximately another thirty-six hours of soldering to finish.  We had no idea what the end result would look like since we hadn't been using a light box to illuminate the glass as we worked on the design.  The first time Carl held the window up to the light after he was done soldering, we were pleasantly surprised; it looked better than we'd hoped.

After soldering Carl had hours of cleanup, scrubbing the big window and applying patina to the lead lines.  We were finally ready to temporarily install the window in Aaargh on Friday just before a tour bus arrived at 7:30 AM. 

Yep, there's Aaargh, still undone, with a stained glass window.  I wish we'd kept track of the hours in this window; it was a huge project.  When all was said and done, the window consisted of over 1,400 pieces.

This is the front view of the window without light shining through it.
Here's the back side of the window.  Carl had to put reinforcing bars in the window to support it.  All large stained glass windows need reinforcement or they will bow or sag over time.
Carl temporarily put the window into the stainless frame with vise-grips.  We aren't ready to leave it outside yet, but it was fun for a dress rehearsal.

Below is a close-up of the center:

And a side view
And another angle

The window takes on different characteristics depending on the light levels but it's always best to see the sun shining through.

The tour groups were a little confused as to what Aaargh is and why a 'ruin' has a stained glass window in it, but they did seem to like the effect.

It was a fun project, but just like Aaargh, we thought we'd be done with it much sooner.   You know how those projects go, right?  Oh, we'll just whip something together and it won't take but a week or two....yes, famous last words.  But it was worth the wait.

And I'm glad to have my dining room table back, too!


Missy said...

It was definitely worth the wait. It's fantastic

Gatsbys Gardens said...

This is just beautiful Karen, lots of work!


Rebecca said...

Stunningly beautiful in every way - colors, shape, pattern....

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

WOW ~ Karen and Carl have created another wonderful stained glass piece. This is perfect for the castle. (I wish Mark could see it.)

You two are so talented with your glass and your gardens. You inspire me with all that you do.

Happy Summer ~ FlowerLady

Indie said...

So gorgeous!! I would be afraid to put it outside for fear it would spontaneously hail or something! What a beautiful window for Castle Aaargh!

Karen said...

Thank you, Missy, Eileen and Rebecca!

Karen said...

Rainey, I wish Mark could see it, too, and I believe he can. I think of you and Mark every day. With Carl home the last ten days it was wonderful, but now he is back to work and I miss him. Life is so short; I don't know where the time went. Sometimes I'm a grump and we take each other for granted. I couldn't accomplish these crazy ideas without his skill and creativity (and math skills). We've been blessed so much and I need to remember that every second.

Karen said...

Indie, I laughed out loud at 'spontaneous hail'. Oh, that made my day! It does sort of look like a target anyway!!

El Gaucho said...

The window looks amazing, well done to all of you who worked on it.

I enjoyed "The tour groups were a little confused as to what Aaargh is and why a 'ruin' has a stained glass window in it". As someone who's followed the journey of Castle Aaargh for a while now this was extremely humorous.

Larry said...

This is excellent Karen... the perfect design for your project!! I'm also glad to see someone is getting into the studio... I can't bear not being in the gardens... this is the most fabulous season ever!! If you get an opportunity, stop in sometime soon... lots of color. We're having a series of 'Sunday Afternoons in the Gardens' and lots of folks came yesterday... you know how much fun it is to meet and share our gardening accomplishments so I had a blast! Larry

Karen said...

El Gaucho, yes, there are few people who 'get' the Aaargh thing and even if they do, they still can't figure out what the heck we're trying to build. Then when you stick a stained glass window in it, all it does is make it worse, lol.

Karen said...

Hi Larry, thank you on the window. It turned out better than we hoped seeing as how it was all basically scrap glass. We're really tempted to try making another window out of our own scraps just to see what we'd get. I imagine your visitors have been astounded by your gardens!

Stephen Andrew said...

Spectacularly beautiful! Just stunning.

Karen said...

Stephen Andrew, you are too kind!

PlantPostings said...

Wow, that is truly stunning, Karen! I don't know how you guys do it all--you've been so busy on so many projects. Sorry I haven't stopped by lately--for some reason you dropped off my "favorites" feed. But I'm adding you back in. I don't want to miss any of your amazing posts!

Lana said...

Exquisite! Truly...a priceless work of art.


Beth said...

Your window is amazingly beautiful, Karen! Wow!

Toni said...

Oh, my goodness, Karen, your window is spectacular!! I am just amazed! How exciting for y'all. Now that the garden walks are over will you resume work on Aargh? We've had some rock work done in our backyard this year, but I'm not ready to show the work just yet until I get the landscaping finished around it. Just a big mess right now. Keep up the excellent work on the castle!