To be a Master Glass Craftsman, such as in the Ferguson and Papas families, requires a lifetime of learning and experience and a prodigious talent in drawing, designing and drafting. Add on the ability to paint, assemble and construct in glass and a master glass craftsman is born - or craftswoman - as the case may be!
It is a marriage of a myriad of skills and immersion from which is born a symbiotic relationship between the artist's mind and the tools of trade.
In the previous two posts you have learnt about The legacy of John Ferguson's stained glass - Part 1 and The continuing legacy of John Ferguson’s stained glass - Part 2.
One of the first windows Andy Ferguson worked on with his father, John, was in 1979 and is at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Traralgon, Southeast Victoria. It holds a special place in his heart to this day as he is still in awe of all his father achieved. This window epitomises the wonderful skills his father has passed on to him and his brother, Peter. The window is constructed using the slab glass and concrete technique (Dalle de verre) where the glass is more than a couple of centremetres thick, causing a brilliant play of light from the sun when the window is set into place.
Some of the different textures, thicknesses and play of light in the vast array of glass available can be seen below, with the slab glass on the far right.
Slab glass was also chosen by Andy Ferguson as his preferred material when he was commissioned to make a modern chandelier - the design for which is shown below.
Creating the design for the work is probably the most significant and exacting of the steps involved. Andy's studio is wall to wall with thumbnail designs dating from his father's time through to the most recent of Andy's projects.
Folders and folders of these thumbnail designs are on hand for admirers and clients to browse through to form their own ideas, or as reference for repairs on past windows!
It is a fascinating treasure trove of history and awe-inspiring design!
Preparing a cartoon is the stage which occurs before the glass cutting commences - each black and white cartoon is prepared to the exact specifications of the final product.
Andy spoken at length about learning from his father, when a young boy, the art of drawing. He recollected with great fondness how his father taught him the importance of making sure that Jesus and the saints portrayed had beautiful and engaging faces!!
Many of his father’s cartoons and coloured drawings remain displayed on the walls of the studio - a testament to a remarkable artist and teacher.
Andy says that he is hopeful that he will also be able to pass on these skills when the time is right, as the complex combination of skills could never be handled by a computer. They are an ancient legacy that should be preserved. Some of his techniques were developed in Europe over 700 years ago, so the art of hand making stained glass cannot be allowed to die out!
Andy is also a painter, particularly in watercolours and defining himself as a figurative expressionist in style.
When he gets some spare time he loves to experiment with colour and form - examples of which appear below.
His latest experimentation is in these layered landscape watercolours.
All in all, we had a wonderful time learning to appreciate the art of stained glass in all its complexity. We thank Andy Ferguson for so generously sharing his time and expertise with us. We hope you have enjoyed this experience as well.
And many of you will be wanting to ask about the very present danger of lead poisoning which comes with this trade. According to Andy you will be safe so long as you never have a biscuit with your coffee!
All images copyright to Andy Ferguson©