Learn why to choose abstract contemporary stained glass

Abstract stained glass cornucopia

Why choose abstract stained glass?

Non-figurative stained glass departs from reality by using shapes, colors, and lines that are abstractions and unrelated to the real world. So, why should you choose abstract stained glass for your home?

Abstract contemporary stained glass appeals to the adventurous and sophisticated customer who is anxious to avoid the cliché. When well designed, an abstract stained glass panel will retain its novelty and freshness and is unlikely to go out of style. The viewer is encouraged to ponder the significance of the art.

Background to the Project

Our customer had remodeled an obsolete fireplace and decided that fire was not needed in the scorching Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona. Instead, he commissioned Artistry in Glass to create an abstract stained glass panel.

fireplace before stained glass
Modern fireplace is a blank slate for the creativity of Artistry in Glass

Design Inspirations

Our helpful and enterprising customer sends us two images as sources of inspiration for his abstract design.

rainbow design for inspiration
Frank Lloyd Wright-style drawing featuring rainbow

Detail from Gustav Klimt
Section of painting by Gustav Klimt

Artistry in Glass designer, John Wakefield creates a preliminary concept, drawn to scale, for the customer’s approval – and for the beginning of the color choosing part of the commission.

preliminary design for cornucopia
Preliminary design proposal

Glass jewels in stained glass panels

Jewels of various types have long been a highlight of spectacular stained glass art as can be seen in the breastplate and regalia designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany for the King Solomon panel on display at Chicago’s Navy Pier. We take inspiration from the master in our self-indulgent use of sparkling baubles!

King solomon stained glass panel by Tiffany at the Navy Pier Chicago
Example of the use of jewels by Louis Comfort Tiffany: King Solomon panel, Navy Pier, Chicago, Il

Jewel choice and arrangement

A crucial and exciting part of our design process is to choose and arrange the glass jewels and tchotchkes that form the focus of the design.

jewels with amethyst
Initial idea (1) incorporates pale amethyst and agate geode
jewels, baubles and bottles
Preferred choice (2) with natural tumbled look

Our first idea (1) drew upon John’s geological background and proposed to incorporate a polished section through an amethyst and agate geode. On reflection, this idea was abandoned in favor of the more natural arrangement (2) that gives the impression that the jeweled loot had been sprinkled carelessly on the ground from a weathered leather pouch. The jeweled components include the bases of amber and blue bottles, numerous rounded baubles, and two (you find them) faceted gemstones.

On careful examination of the arrangement, an important technical issue was identified.

Spaces between jewels are too large
Spaces (interstices) between the jewels are too large

Modification of the jewels

When the various baubles are secured in the panel they will be held together by opaque solder. We determined that the large spaces between the rounded baubles will look black and ugly unless they can be reduced in size. Accordingly, the circular outlines of the baubles were indented, using a glass grinder, to create closer spacing. Look carefully for the faceted amethyst and citrine gemstones at the top of the image!

Lightbox design & manufacture

An absolute essential for the optimal viewing of art glass is a bright source of transmitted light. This is the reason why church windows always look dull and unimpressive when viewed from the outside during daylight.

As there is obviously no natural light in our customers’s fireplace – we constructed a custom lightbox using LED lights.

Light box illuminated by border of LEDs
Lightbox with border illuminated by LED lights

The perimeter lighting, although bright, attenuates (dims) towards the center – leaving a rectangular dark spot. Although flat light panels are now available they are still expensive if needed in custom (non-standard) sizes. As we especially wanted the jewels to sparkle, we used LEDs around the edge of the panel and a cunning ruse, devised by master craftsman Timothy Mellott to position LEDs in the center. See below how the micro-wiring is skillfully concealed by Tim – behind the lead came.

jewels with wiring
Thin wiring concealed behind lead came, connects LEDs that light up the jewels.

Hidden LED lights provide sparkle and pop to our jeweled cornucopia. They also have a dimmer option so that one of four levels of brightness can be chosen for optimum viewing comfort.

Lighted jewels closeup
Brilliantly illuminated jewels captivate the viewer

Installation of the panel

Take a look at this short video to see the design and installation process:

Conclusion and analysis

fireplace before stained glass
A blank slate waiting for the creativity of Artistry in Glass
Fireplace after installation of stained glass
A sparkling jeweled cornucopia brings life to the empty fireplace

The plain blank slate of a modern fireplace is transformed by the addition of stylish abstract, contemporary stained glass. The glass colors provide a subtle reference to the customers’s monumental native American pottery

Abstract stained glass cornucopia

Contact Artistry in Glass – Tucson’s Abstract Stained Glass Specialists

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I was an exploration geologist and University Professor working in Botswana, Zambia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Portugal, and other countries before opening Artistry in Glass in 1986. In my more than 35 years of experience, I have brought my technical abilities as a scientist to the trade of glasswork. During this time I have become an industry expert in glass and glass-related skills. Watch out for special insider tips developed from my detailed knowledge of the glass business.

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