Stained Glass History throughout the ages has often been kept alive through the arts. From such media as cave paintings, Indian lore, hula dance, and Egyptian hieroglyphics in tombs, stories of various cultures are passed down through time. In the early European times, before the printing press that made owning books possible, most common people were unable to read and write. Churches of the day conveyed the history and lore of the times to these people by using the artwork of stained glass. Learning art history such as this can get pretty dry for a class of active eighth grade boys, so Mr. Jason Randecker, Woodland art teacher, found a way to get his crew up close and personal with actual pieces of glass. Mrs. Linda Whitener visited the class of young men, and they were able to gather around her closely as she passed around pieces of colored glass for them to examine and hold up to the light. She demonstrated the process of making a stained glass window, step by step, explaining and answering questions along the way. A small cardinal head made of 5 pieces of glass, appeared before their eyes as she scored and broke the glass along her pattern lines, ground the glass smooth, applied copper foil to the edges of each piece, and soldered the pieces together. The last step was applying patina, which makes all of the soldered lines turn black creating the traditional look of the ancient leaded church windows. Mrs. Whitener also revealed to the young men the difficulty of cutting certain curves in glass, and the design challenges and tricks to use because of the “curve factor.” As an audience, they were super attentive and engrossed in the process and asked many enlightening questions. The knowledge they gained from the hands-on demo helped them with the art assignment to come. They were to convey something about themselves or their personal history using symbols rather than words to design a window. The computers in the art room were a resource available to come up with ideas for these symbols. Once the design was conjured up in their minds, it was drawn on paper within the pattern shape of a traditional arched window. Wax crayons were used for the black “leading” lines always present to separate each piece in a stained glass window. Then water color paints were the medium to add the color. The wax of the crayon lines formed a “resist” that helped to keep the watercolors from bleeding together. From the up close experience of looking at Mrs. Whitener’s glass pieces, the guys used changing values of light and dark in each color they used just as really occurs in stained glass art. Their finished creations were displayed in the back hall glass cases. The designs varied broadly, but the effect was the same – personal history through colorful artwork, without using the written word. As with any project, the young men in the all-boys class were divided in their feelings about the different components of the assignment. Some were challenged with thinking of and drawing the design, and felt that the actual painting was a piece of cake. Others came up with the drawing easily, and were intimidated by the paintbrush. Darian Sloan pointed out that they had to break up each piece of their picture with a black line, as in glass windows, and that affected the design, making it more difficult, and requiring more planning when drawing. Jake Huffman found it challenging to change the value of each color from dark to light in his design. Chris Boettcher was impressed in the end with how good the project turned out! Doltin Martin enjoyed using the modern technology of the computer to help in designing his window. Landry Francis appreciated the opportunity to paint and be creative and Tim Hulvey shared that he liked “…getting to let the artist in me out.” Students Asa Ezell, Garrett Cook, Kyle Davis and Garret Reynolds all expressed that this was their favorite project so far this year. You can view the process and finished products at www.woodland.k12.mo.us. Go to Middle School, then Activities, then stained glass for many pictures. Thanks to Mr. Randecker and Mrs. Whitener, studying history through art just got a lot more personal and fun at Woodland Junior High!
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