Feb 24, 2009

The Color of Prayer

In the western world we're used to the idea of seeing stained glass in churches. People even sing about them. But in Israel, for many generations, most synagogues were small, poor and without much decoration. Fortunately, glass art, particularly stained glass, is becoming more popular and I've been privileged to create glass art for 2 synagogues.

My first commission was for a family who wanted matching, but not identical, panels to commemorate 2 family members who had fallen in the wars. (One panel is shown above). I'm not sure there was any aspect of this project that wasn't challenging! They were - and remain - the largest pieces I have ever made, each about 2 meters across. Designing them was tricky - the client had a very definite idea of what he wanted - and changed his mind 4 times. In the middle of the project he changed the size, which required that I recut some of the pieces. I didn't have any place to easily store the larger pieces, and once accidentally stabbed myself in the leg with a particularly pointy piece. (I still have a scar). I didn't have a work table large enough so pieced and soldered the panels on the floor of my display room, with the door locked so that no one could enter and trip over me or step on my work-in-progress. Transporting them was the worst - we had to find a vehicle with a long cab and I prayed all the way to the framer that we wouldn't hit a pothole. Prayer was probably appropriate since they were eventually hung on a synagogue wall.

The second synagogue commission couldn't have been more different. The clients wanted windows depicting the Jewish holidays and holy days, gave me bare bones of design requirements and left the rest up to me. They ordered the windows in sets, as they gathered donations, and over the course of 2 years ordered 12 windows. The biggest challenge was creating so many windows over such a long period that looked as if they belonged together.

There is something undeniably pleasurable for me in making windows and then seeing them installed with the light streaming through, be it for private homes or public places. From design to installation, I think the toughest part is always delivering the windows. I'm always terrified that they will somehow be broken on the trip (they never are.) I'm afraid the clients won't like them (they always do). And I always wonder if I'll see them again, and if their new owners will enjoy having them as much as I enjoyed making them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Cecilia, these pieces are so beautiful! I can just imagine how it must feel to see them once they are set. I love hearing about your process, I've never done any stained-glass work but I've always admired it.