I was recently asked to submit some designs for a sculptural glass installation in a unique, modern corporate space. I made mock-ups of structural concepts that would highlight glass as a material without being backlit. Using strip-cut glass, wire, and wood, I built sculptures that project color and cast shadows to create ever changing, dynamic effects.
While I wasn’t chosen for the commission, the proposal was well received, and I learned so much. I had an incredible time thinking outside of the box, playing with ideas and techniques I’ve developed over a lifetime. Assembling materials and solving real-world design challenges of light and space really got my brain working. I think I came away with some solid ideas for future sculptural work. The prospect of large scale, non-representational, secular work is exciting.
C’mon, universe... bring it on.
Year in Review
What a year, huh?
I had just taken part in a gallery show of my art glass panels when everything shut down. My studio closed to visitors, and Third Fridays at 78th Street Studios were suspended. I had a few commissions and took on lots of repair and restoration work, which worked out well as I was only onsite for removals and installs. Basically, I worked the days away in the safety and solitude of my little studio hermitage. Everyone seemed to be focused on home improvement through the summer, so I had plenty to do.
As things progressed, Third Fridays came back with limited attendance. It was nice to have feedback and interactions with people in the studio again. Things were starting to feel kind of normal again, which I suppose is how we got back to where we are today.
With COVID numbers spiking, we’re going into a Holiday Shopping Season that needs to be different than any we’ve seen before. This is not a year for jam-packed Bazaar weekends and Blow-out Open House Events. Instead, we are online. When we do meet in-person, our visits are spread out and scheduled.
A number of businesses at 78th Street Studios are offering Weekend hours through the end of the year to accommodate shoppers without the crowds associated with previous years’ events. So don’t be discouraged - plan a visit, be it online or in person. I’ll be available at the studio for visits if you’d like to come in to pick out a Barcode Block or a small hanging panel. You can go to my online store and have your item shipped or arrange a parking lot pick-up.
Supporting local working artists may be more important this year than ever. We are flexible and innovative, so if there’s something that’d make things easier for you, let me know. Local delivery? Stay late for an after-hours studio visit? We can work it out. Call or text 440-225-2937 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
My hours through the end of the year are listed further down. Hope to see you in person or online. Thanks everybody for your support in the past and for your continued patronage. Buy Local! Buy Art! Support Small Business!
27 NOVEMBER FRIDAY 11-4
28 NOVEMBER SATURDAY 11-6
29 NOVEMBER SUNDAY 12-5
05 DECEMBER SATURDAY 11-6
06 DECEMBER SUNDAY 12-5
12 DECEMBER SATURDAY 11-6
13 DECEMBER SATURDAY 12-5
19 DECEMBER SATURDAY 11-6
20 DECEMBER SATURDAY 12-5
I’m generally in the Studio Monday to Friday 10:00 til 6:00, but best to call or text first. Saturdays and Sundays I will be in 11:00 til 4:00. You can go to my online store and have your item shipped or arrange a parking lot pick-up. Call me at 440-225-2937 or email me at email@example.com to make an appointment.
Stairwell Suite for a Restored Century Home
All of my projects are different. Thank goodness. Different situations call for different solutions. Sometimes you start with a blank slate, and other times you are granted a clue as to what should be. Sometimes things zoom along, and other times there are hang-ups and hiccups. The process is always enjoyable for me, taking ideas and making them into tangible physical things that will last for generations.
This project, a total “to-the-studs” renovation of a Cleveland century home, started with a few remaining bits of a suite of stained glass windows from the stairwell landing.
Above: The majority of the glass was missing, including the entire center section. From the existing glass, I sketched up a riff on the old design.
I matched some of the old glass and took the opportunity to change out the gold background with a lighter, quieter option. The old green circles would be re-used in the new windows along with rows of teal and deep blue, a favorite of the homeowners. In the center panel I hoped to use a medallion of a really exuberant colorful glass that would dazzle the eyes and pull all of the colors of the design together.
The renovation project took quite a while, and the glass was about the last thing to be installed, so I had plenty of time to overthink things. Some of the glass I wanted was unavailable, and the dimensions of the side panels changed along the way. Adjustments were made, and new solutions found. In that time, I also happened upon the gorgeous piece of glass for the center medallion - at an estate sale of all places. It was the right thing at the right time.
The design of the windows is appropriate to the age of the house I think, but also feels fresh and light, and in harmony with the openness of the newly renovated home.
Photos by Bruce Buchanan.
It has been a couple of months since I’ve sent a story or an email newsletter. Normally I do as a reminder for the month’s Third Friday at 78th Street Studios, but with COVID-19, we haven’t been having those. This month the building is trying out a limited event. Shorter hours, fewer participating tenants, attendance capped at 200 tickets, masks worn, and plenty more precautions taken by all involved. I find myself wavering between whether or not it’s too soon or even a good idea, but I am part of an arts community that will have to find a new way forward somehow sooner or later. We are taking baby steps to try to see what might work. Everyone is revamping their online presence, and part of the Third Friday plan is a virtual video tour. I hope you find some way that’s comfortable for you to support your favorite 78th Street Studios artists as we go forward.
In the past couple of months, I got myself caught up on some projects, and have been doing a robust business in leaded glass repairs for homeowners all over town. I’ve done onsite work with masks, distancing, and applicable precautions. My stock of Barcode Blocks was low, so I’m working on a production run of a few hundred of them. That should support peoples’ gift giving needs for a while at least. I’ve made a few new small panels, and another dozen or so of the striped panels that have done so well. The website store is going to be doing more heavy lifting as studio events are likely to be smaller and less frequent.
Of course, the studio is open for visitors by appointment. I’m there most every day working away in solitude anyway. So don’t hesitate if you have a project you’d like to discuss or are looking to purchase a Barcode Block or Panel. I can meet you in the parking lot for a hand-off or come on in. I just ask that you wear a mask and try to practice distancing. People are resilient and flexible. We can figure out the best way forward together.
I designed and built this window for a client who was building a Mid-century, Retro-style bar in their Ohio City home.
Their first bit of direction was to take inspiration from the artist Kandinsky. Knowing this, I visited their home to assess the project and saw their amazing collection of art, the plans for the super-cool bar, and some great wallpaper they planned to use.
Clearly they were not afraid of making a statement. So I forged ahead, designing something we termed “pleasantly janky” and modern for the space. The design incorporates textured and colored translucent and opalescent glass to hold the light and obscure the view.
The panel’s bold presence cannot be denied, but it plays well with the other art in the space and feels right at home.
Here I am strip-cutting glass for my Barcode Blocks. Like most of my work, they are the result of the accumulation of many simple steps.
Dozens of colors are cut into hundreds of strips, then into thousands of pieces. Then they’re tumbled and randomly laid out, then, groups of colors are selected for framing.
Assemble, glue, clamp, nail, sand... It’s like beautiful factory work.
Simple tasks, mindfully performed, accumulate and elevate humble materials into Barcode Blocks.
In a perfect world, I’d have all my holiday gift whatnots ready-to-go or at least started, but this last month I’ve been devoting my time to a couple of big commission projects.
Not what I’d planned, but super satisfying nonetheless. The holidays are meant to be hectic, right?
So come visit and see what other commissions are getting completed, how far along I’ve gotten on the latest batch of Barcode Blocks... and check out this season's colorful Stripe Panels!
People often comment on how different my projects are from one another. My latest commission piece bears that out. The client wanted something blue and flow-y for the master bath. Having met with her and gotten a sense of her vibe, I sketched up a plan. It was unlike anything I’d done before, but felt like it’d be fun to work on.
When she trusted me to do what I do, I couldn’t have been happier. The result is a window that sings. The curvy framework is a balance of looseness and structure where color and light intermingle. The shapes evoke a sense of flowing water and bubbles, but aren’t literal. It is my hope that one could wander visually through the dynamic design - over and over, ever amused.
A few days ago I had a visitor in the studio that commented on my craftsmanship - that it takes a lot of work to make things seem simple and right. I think a good example of this is a pair of branch windows I recently made.
The windows are constructed of multiple pieces of clear glass within a lead framework like traditional leaded windows. Here, though, the leads are carved and cut to taper and have irregularities like a branch does. (I’ve seen too many “spaghetti trees” where the line weight doesn’t vary. I knew I could craft something better.)
The result is a quiet, dimensional branch silhouette on a clear ground. Seems like it couldn’t be simpler, but it’s because of the nuance and attention to detail that the windows have a gravity and elegance befitting their new home.
Being a small studio means I pretty much do everything. And my bench ends up looking like this. Some days I’m a woodworker, other days I’m drafting small designs into full-sized layouts. Drawing, glass-cutting, painting, glazing, puttying up the windows, installing them in their wood sashes...
Every day is different, thankfully, and multiple custom projects means lots of customized little tasks. They add up though, and each one moves its project closer to the finish line. The accumulation of all those little tasks, mindfully done with skill and fine craftsmanship, makes for lasting work that I can be proud of and that my clients can enjoy for a lifetime.
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78th Street Studios
1305 West 80th St
Cleveland, OH 44102 USA
Visit us at Studio #108 during OPEN HOUSE every Friday 11 am - 4 pm and THIRD FRIDAYS every third Friday of the month from 5 pm - 9 pm.
**HOURS/EVENTS CURRENTLY SUSPENDED DUE TO COVID-19.**
3 Windows | Residential Restoration Project
Getting Started - ‘Scenic Slides’ Pt. 1 with Bruce Buchanan
Scenic Slide Finished Product