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Rachel Mulligan Stained Glass http://rachelmulligan.co.uk Rachel Mulligan Stained Glass Wed, 19 Jun 2019 11:00:45 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 June Open Studio Dates http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/2019/02/23/june-open-studio-dates/ Sat, 23 Feb 2019 12:58:12 +0000 http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/?p=27317 For many years now I have been taking part in the Surrey Artists Open Studios. I enjoy being part of the local artistic community and welcoming visitors to my garden and studio. It is a great opportunity to share my excitement for stained glass with the public. I always have cards and bookmarks for sale, […]

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For many years now I have been taking part in the Surrey Artists Open Studios. I enjoy being part of the local artistic community and welcoming visitors to my garden and studio. It is a great opportunity to share my excitement for stained glass with the public. I always have cards and bookmarks for sale, and a few original pieces of glass. There is no pressure to buy though. You can simply come and look and enjoy a glass of homemade lemonade.

On display will also be some of the glass from Charterhouse that I am involved in rescuing. The Victorian panels have been in storage for almost 80 years and in that time they have been badly damaged by fire. The glass is fascinating and fun to work on and I am learning much as I clean and repurpose the glass into new artworks. A project to restore some of the panels and reinstate them in the school is also underway.

This year I will be open from 11am-5pm on:

Saturday June 1
Sunday June 1
Tuesday June 4
Friday June 7
Saturday June 8
Sunday June 9
Wednesday June 12
Saturday June 15
Sunday June 16

Full details of all the studios will be on Surrey Artists Open Studios webpage in May.

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Glass Shopping http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/2018/07/10/hello-world-3-4/ http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/2018/07/10/hello-world-3-4/#respond Tue, 10 Jul 2018 07:57:25 +0000 http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/?p=27261 Antique glass is eye-wateringly expensive. But in my opinion it is worth every penny, which is why I use it when teaching. If beginners are exposed to mouth-blown glass they will fall in love with it too.
Read more about my visit to Lamberts Glass in Germany ...

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‘Cylinder’, ‘antique’ and ‘mouth-blown’ are all names for the same beautiful glass that is intrinsic to many stained glass artists’ pallet, including mine.

In the early days, once I had figured out that antique glass was vastly superior to machine glass, I made a commitment to use it exclusively in my work, despite the extravagant cost. If you start with the best materials it stands to reason you are going to end up with a better quality product.

My pallet has grown over the years, and shrunk again, until I found myself scrabbling around the cullet box looking for tiny scraps of glass to complete a project. I needed to go shopping!

While I love English Antique Glass, they simply don’t make certain flashed colours that I need – a deep, rich brown and a Payne’s grey for example.

I met with Robert Christ from Lamberts when he was in London on a trade mission sponsored by the German government. He assured me they had thousands of colours and many of them were flashed. He suggested I bought their standard sample box for €100 and then I could order the glass from Pearsons and have it delivered. But that didn’t solve the problem, as the colours I wanted weren’t in the box. Finally, he invited me to visit and see the range for myself.

Lamberts is located in Bavaria, within walking distance of the Czech Republic. I’m in Surrey, 700 miles away. My first instinct was to jump in the car with drive, do some shopping and drive home. It would take 12 hours each way and cost £450 (petrol, Chunnel and breakdown cover). I then researched public transport – train to Stanstead, flying to Nuremburg, train to Marktredwitz and taxi for the last 10 miles to Waldsassen. It would still take 9 hours each way. To fly to Munich and hire a car would be £320 including petrol and airport parking. Added to the last two journeys would be the freight to transport the glass home, around £200. I finally decided on the simple and direct option.

I found someone to share the driving with and we left Surrey before 6am and took turns at the wheel. The autobahn has no speed limit and while we bombed along at 100 miles an hour in my battered old Vauxhall smart German cars were constantly overtaking us. I don’t think we saw another GB car once we were out of France.

Fourteen hours later we arrived at the small and quiet town of Waldsassen. Lamberts glass was incorporated in many of the buildings.

The Glashuette (literally ‘glass-hut’) wasn’t on a grim industrial estate. It was right in the town a few minutes walk from the hotel and when I visited it the following morning I was transported back in time. The manufacturing hall is vaulted like York railway station, and the tall brick chimneys are still in use but with state of the art filters. While high tech innovations have been introduced to make the glass more eco-friendly, there is no getting away from the fact that the process has not changed for hundreds of years. Seeing it happening before my eyes was exhilarating.

The hall was hot, noisy and busy. Teams of burly men worked with clockwork precision. The Beginner took the right amount of molten glass from one of the furnaces and worked it into a balloon shape in preparation for the Master to blow. The Master worked quickly, constantly turning the molten glass as he blew down the long pipe. Once at the right size the Assistant to the Master took over and shaped the cylinder. The Carrier took the finished cylinder to the annealing kiln after the Master had checked it. The whole process took less than five minutes.

During the six-hour night shift four teams each produced 93 sheets of antique glass. I arrived at 9am in time to see the last sheets of the night being made. The Restoration glass involved swinging the red-hot cylinder to lengthen it and create a thin, even glass. 140 sheets of Restoration glass are also made each night.

I saw the cylinders being scoured and put on a conveyer belt to in the annealing kiln and coaxed flat by the Flatten Master. At one point I stood next to the furnace and the heat was unbearable. No wonder the workers wore T-shirts!

There are currently two furnaces at Lamberts that are constantly burning. They take 10 days to cool down and are only turned off every few years for cleaning and resurfacing. A third furnace was being built that will be used for making slab glass. Like an iceberg, only a small part of it is on the surface, the rest being underground.

Lamberts glass is noted, not just for it’s beauty, but also for its consistency and ease of cutting. The colours, made from various metals including gold, are affected by slight changes in ambient temperature so meticulous tests are carried out to ensure the batch can be replicated. The uniform thinness of the glass is a testament to the skill of the Master. It takes around eight years to become a Master and there are only six at Lamberts. Given that they are the largest company making cylinder glass in the world (the others are St Just in France, Tatra in Poland and English Antique Glass) it is possible that only a dozen or so people are keeping the skills alive. Lamberts is known to glass artists around the world and they export 70% of their stock, and yet most Germans have never heard of them.

And then Robert took me to the showroom, the bit I’d really come to see. We walked past racks and racks of beautiful glass. I was on a mission for flashed glass so I reluctantly turned my back on all the seductive streakies, ravishing reamies, cracking crackles and peerless pots. My love is for transparent glass so it was relatively easy to ignore the oodles of opals.

A young chap called Max was assigned to help me. It took me over an hour to peruse the sample rack and narrow down my choice of flashed glass to around twenty colours, many of them murky greys and browns. There is a surcharge of 15% for buying a single sheet and 5% for buying two to five sheets. Once I’d made my selection, Max pulled the sheets of glass from the racks and I was able to select the ones I liked. Invariably I choose the smallest, and had two small ones rather than one large one, as this kept the cost down. Some of the greys were thick with dust and Max told me they were older that him. He did perk up when I selected a vivid red, and said it was a very cool colour. Without actually telling me to hurry up, he let me know that all the staff were knocking off early to watch the world cup, and predicted an easy win. I took the hint. Robert invited me to watch it with them all at a local football club. Many of the 70 strong staff live locally and some families have two generations working at Lamberts. Luckily I declined and thus avoided witnessing the humiliation of Germany crashing out at the hands of South Korea.

I returned the following day to make a few final selections (a couple of streakies did get through) and collect the samples of the colours I couldn’t afford but wanted to have for future reference (no charge for those). The final bill was over €6,000 and they accepted cash or card payments. I put some of it on an international credit card so no fees were charged and the rest on a debit card. I later found a fee of £75 was added to my bank statement for using the debit card.

The glass was carefully loaded into the boot of the car. I’d taken the mattress from the sofa bed to act as a buffer. There was an intense consultation in German between the packers, with me unhelpfully questioning them. They laid the sheets of glass on a piece of foam, starting with the largest, and with a single sheet of corrugated card between each piece. Foam strips were put around the pile. The weight of 40 pieces of glass, they assured me, was no more than two people. Not a single piece broke on the return journey.

Driving a heavier car home we ground to a halt around Brussels where the European summit had just finished. As we crept along in the heat wave I reflected on the temperature the glass blowers worked in each night. Tuning into an English radio station we heard dire warnings about the UK leaving the EU without a deal. My stash of glass would last a while, but popping back to buy more might be harder and more expensive in the future.

Unpacking my glass back at the studio, I was a tiny bit disappointed that I had so many dark and muted colours and only a few bright ones. Then I reminded myself that it is those unsexy colours that let the others shine. I am already dreaming of a road trip to St Just and returning to Lamberts for more. I think I have a problem with glass addiction!

I have made 40 samples of Lamberts flashed glass, previously unavailable in the UK, and sent them to Reading Stained Glass. Artists in the South East can now order sheets through Pearsons without travelling to Liverpool. I can produce a couple more sample sets for the stained glass community, if required.

Antique glass is eye-wateringly expensive. But in my opinion it is worth every penny, which is why I use it when teaching. If beginners are exposed to mouth-blown glass they will fall in love with it too. We need the industry on which we depend to stay alive and well. The more people who use and specify antique glass the better we will all be able to survive and create new artworks in the future.

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London Calling… http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/2017/10/30/hello-world-3/ Mon, 30 Oct 2017 12:53:50 +0000 http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/RMWP/?p=25207 The post London Calling… appeared first on Rachel Mulligan Stained Glass.

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For me there is nothing more mesmerizing than the night view of St Paul’s Cathedral from the Thames. It rises, majestic and mysterious, above the river. Pinpoints of light from the buildings in the City of London are reflected in the grand sweep of the Thames. Even on a dull, grey afternoon it is a view that  inspires me.

I am planning to make an exhibition panel of fireworks around St Paul’s, but it will have to wait until I can give it the time it deserves (or someone commissions me to make it!).

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Glass Easel Bazaar http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/2017/07/29/hello-world-3-3-4/ Sat, 29 Jul 2017 07:37:10 +0000 http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/?p=27297 The post Glass Easel Bazaar appeared first on Rachel Mulligan Stained Glass.

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The second Glass Easel Bazaar is just around the corner and Maggie Beal, Helen Russell, Jessica Stroud and myself are busy creating some beautiful new glass work to show. I have been experimenting with dichroic glass with some interesting results that I am very excited about. My new Christmas cards have arrived and the studio is ready for a good tidy. I will also have my popular gift vouchers that can be used for workshops or glass panels and make a great gift.

Do join us on Saturday 1st of December for mulled wine, mince pies and of course some homemade lemonade. The studio is in the garden of 1 Furze Lane, Farncombe, GU7 3NW. We are open from 10-6pm but get there early as last year we sold out of some lines.

RSVP studio@rachelmulligan.co.uk or 07970 052104

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Spirits Holding Hands http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/2017/07/17/hello-world-3-2-2/ Mon, 17 Jul 2017 16:24:51 +0000 http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/RMWP/?p=25754 The post Spirits Holding Hands appeared first on Rachel Mulligan Stained Glass.

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I had the pleasure of visiting Caroline and Tony Benyon’s studio recently to see the new window they have made for the OBE chapel in St Paul’s Cathedral. I spent three hours sketching the beautifully painted glass and learning how it had been made.

Most of the glass they used was over a hundred years old and simply isn’t available any more. Soft greys and tints were balanced with a wide range of rubies and deep blues. The window sparkled, even though it was overcast. I was particularly interested in the painting. Line and cross hatching created tone, thus allowing the glass to shine through. I don’t normally like faceless heads, but here there was enough drawing to suggest the shapes of necks and chins. Caroline had deliberately left the features out of the spirit figures and focused instead on their hands supporting each other.

The window has now been installed in the crypt at St Paul’s. It is too high to study closely, so I am delighted I saw it in the studio. From a distance the shadows of the iron ferramenta outside played across the surface as the April sun illuminated the glowing figures. It was wonderful to see some masterful stained glass commissioned for such an important building.

 

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Dance http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/2017/06/11/hello-world-3-3/ Sun, 11 Jun 2017 12:06:08 +0000 http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/RMWP/?p=25217 I remember sharing a bedroom with my younger brother and sister when we were very young. On the wall was a poster of Bruegel’s Children’s Games. We used to talk about which child we were. My sister was the little girl in white with the blue headscarf and I was the one looking after her.

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I remember sharing a bedroom with my younger brother and sister when we were very young. On the wall was a poster of Bruegel’s Children’s Games. We used to talk about which child we were. My sister was the little girl in white with the blue headscarf and I was the one looking after her. My brother would be a different boisterous boy every time. It was the first painting I knew really well and I never got tired of looking at it.

Until I went to the Bruegel exhibition in Bath recently I hadn’t realised there was more than one artist. It turns out there was a whole dynasty of them and they had a studio where they reused cartoons and made different versions of popular themes.

As I sketched the Wedding Dance in the Open Air by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, I wondered how he captured the movement of the figures dancing? No photography back then. I overheard an attendant telling a visitor that his father, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, went in disguise to peasant festivals to observe them. Did he ask the dancers to ‘hold it there for a moment while I make a quick sketch?’ Recent conservation of this painting showed it was a copy of a painting by the Elder Bruegel, who also painted Children’s Games. They clearly had no qualms about recycling a good image.

Spending time studying it I also realised that many of the faces had the same characteristics. Was this because a few models had been used throughout? Or was it because the gene pool was limited? I found myself thinking that the chap downing a large jug of ale reminded me of someone (better not say who). Spending time sketching a painting, like having one on your bedroom wall, allows you time to absorb it properly. 

The exhibition continues at the Holburne Museum in Bath until 4th June 2017. It is well worth a visit to see the glimpses of real life four hundred years ago and the astounding details. I could have spent a week there without a dull moment.

 

 

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Dragon Dojo http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/2017/05/22/hello-world-3-3-3/ Mon, 22 May 2017 09:22:08 +0000 http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/?p=26910 Everyone should have a room of one's own, Virginia Woolf said. So back in 2014 we built an outdoor Dojo for my husband, James, to practice his Tai Chi in and to store his large collection of practice weapons - swords, spears, staffs and guandao (an alarming spear with a curved blade on one end).

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Everyone should have a room of one’s own, Virginia Woolf said. So back in 2014 we built an outdoor Dojo for my husband, James Langcake, to practice his Tai Chi in, and to store his large collection of practice weapons – swords, spears, staffs and guandao (an alarming spear with a curved blade on one end). I designed the hall and ordered the materials. James’ friend and Tai Chi expert, Nick Gudge, came over from Ireland and donated his time to mastermind the building of it. The thee of us (with a few volunteer helpers) worked our socks off for ten days and by then it had a roof, walls, windows and reclaimed patio doors from Freecycle. The earth floor was good for training on, which was just as well as we ran out of materials and time to lay a proper floor.

Three years down the line, with the Open Studios looming, and the dust from the dry earth floor coating the walls, I decided to take matters into my own hands. James prefers to practice Tai Chi in the park (unless it is chucking down with rain or freezing cold) so the Dojo was a wasted space most of the time. I bought a reclaimed parquet floor and spent more hours that I care to think about cleaning it up. I paid someone to help lay the floor and build some storage seats. The space was starting to look amazing but there was still the hideous bathroom glass in the French windows.

The original plan for the Dojo had included a stained glass dragon, but I knew I’d never get round to making it on my own. Jessica Stroud, a friend who is also a professional glass artist, wanted to learn some painting techniques from me and had come up with a design. Then I had a brainwave. We could try and complete the stained glass doors during the Open Studios. After all, if we could build a Dojo in ten days then two experts could surely knock up a stained glass window in two whole weeks.

Well, there was a heat wave, and we had over 170 visitors to stop and talk to about the project, but we did it! Clive Hoskin, another professional stained glass worker, gave up his time to fit the 20 panels on the hottest evening of the year. I even found a beautiful sofa on Gumtree that was being given away. The total cost of the Dojo (materials and labour) was under £10,000. Our thanks go to the many friends who contributed their time and skills to help create such a beautiful and versatile space. And there is still some decorating to do if anyone would like to get involved?

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Venues for Seven Ages http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/2017/04/26/hello-world-4/ http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/2017/04/26/hello-world-4/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 11:01:42 +0000 http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/RMWP/?p=25705 The post Venues for Seven Ages appeared first on Rachel Mulligan Stained Glass.

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The Seven Ages of Man took the best part of two years to create, and now I’m hoping for my signature panels to reach a wider audience. They were first exhibited last year at Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham, a wonderful Gothic castle built in the 1700’s to house Horace Walpole’s collection of stained glass.

If you have any suggestions for other suitable venues please get in touch. Meanwhile, they will be on show at my Open Studios from 3-18 June (open 11am-5pm daily).

‘And then the Justice’ shows my dad, Mr Mulligan, in his office holding an editorial meeting for the award-winning school magazine ‘Pimlico Matters’. Mr Mulligan was known for his punctuality, and could be severe as well as inspiring. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Master Class http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/2017/04/15/hello-world-3-3-2/ Sat, 15 Apr 2017 11:03:00 +0000 http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/RMWP/?p=25519 The post Master Class appeared first on Rachel Mulligan Stained Glass.

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I am a great believer in learning from other artists. When you copy an artwork (or shall we say translate it?) you absorb many lessons that you just don’t get from copying a photograph. This is the panel a student made at my studio based on Tamara De Lempicka’s Girl in a Green Dress. 

It has been a while since I taught stained glass regularly. I stopped in 2004 to have more time in the studio, but still ran the odd weekend workshop, the latest being at Strawberry Hill House.  Richard, who had some private classes with me, made this lovely panel. He had studied stained glass for some time at the adult college where I used to teach, and wanted to improve his painting techniques.

“The experience was instructive, interesting and rewarding – and I was really pleased with the result,” Richard from Camberley.

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Mindfulness & Sketching Stained Glass http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/2017/04/10/hello-world-3-3-3-2/ Mon, 10 Apr 2017 20:37:10 +0000 http://rachelmulligan.co.uk/?p=26999 Everyone should have a room of one's own, Virginia Woolf said. So back in 2014 we built an outdoor Dojo for my husband, James, to practice his Tai Chi in and to store his large collection of practice weapons - swords, spears, staffs and guandao (an alarming spear with a curved blade on one end).

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While on the British Society of Master Glass Painters two-day conference last week I managed to make 14 studies of windows, from Medieval glass to a beautiful contemporary window by Derek Hunt. Visiting five churches a day by coach and listening to expert speakers could have been exhausting, but I found it relaxing and invigorating and could have done with a bit longer in each venue.

I put this down to my focus and absorption while I was sketching. I worked quickly, once I had selected the detail I wanted to study. As I drew I noticed things that I could easily have overlooked. The choice of coloured glass and the lead lines began to make more sense, and I observed the glowing window change as the light shifted. Not surprisingly, after making our dragon window, I saw dragons everywhere. St George, St Margaret and the Archangel Michael all sported the beasts. I took particular delight in seeing how the artist had depicted the ferocity of the mythical creatures. I wondered why they are found universally. Did ancient fossils inspire them? What do they represent in us, or nature that we battle with?

The process of sketching quietens my mind and allows such musings to take place. It helps me to absorb the artist’s work in a way that nourishes my own practice. I wrote the Guest Editorial for the Journal of Stained Glass this year all about how I began sketching and included a ‘how to’ guide for beginners. Copies are available on the Shop page and I can even sign them if you would like. Here is a short exert:

Mindfulness is all the rage now. Forget colouring books. Sketching is a perfect way to focus and calm the mind while learning from the Masters. During the BSMGP touring conferences I am usually the only one drawing. I can’t count how many times have people told me “Oh, you are clever! I can’t draw at all.” Well, actually, if you can write your name then you can draw. So I challenge you to have a go next time you are in front of a stained glass window or an artwork.

For the real stained glass obsessive I would recommend joining the British Society of Master Glass Painters and then you will receive a free copy of the Journal. Professionals, amateurs, Conservators, Historians and stained glass geeks share their knowledge and love of our wonderful art form. Their new website is under construction and will be worth a look at the end of the year.

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