Resplendent Stained Glass by Joe Campbell: St. Mary’s Killybegs, Ireland

composite resurection window

This is a stained glass window I designed sometime around 1997/98. The studio was Art Glass in Derry. I would have designed and painted the window whilst the studio, obtained the contract, supplied: the materials; craftsmen to build it; manufacture and installation. The window is on the theme of The Resurrection. This is a big window (one of two) easily over 30ft high. and about 4ft wide.

The weight of such a window with its hundreds of bits of individual glass would also be significant. To get round this the window is divided into 15 individual panels. these are independently supported by being tied to bars which run horizontally across the window.

Of course this also has a bearing on the design of the window. You have to factor these bars into your drawing (or cartoon) as you go along. You also have to keep in mind that although the window is over 30ft long it is only 4ft wide. All the characters and the story have to fit inside these dimensions. Although the initial designs and ideas are done on standard A4 or A3 to scale, to build the window I would have had to produced an actual size finished drawing with all the detailed artwork, support bars and leads included. From that another drawing called the “cutline” drawing is produced. The cutline drawing is used by the glass cutter to cut out the individual bits of coloured glass. I then lay the bits of glass back down over my original drawing and trace the artwork on to each individual piece of glass.

Each piece of glass is “painted” with a special mix of lead oxides (not paint). These stained glass “paints” will survive the firing process. Each piece of glass to be painted must be fired in a kiln (sometimes twice) The kiln heats the glass up to about 600/700 degrees. The glass becomes molten and the “paint” fuses into the glass itself. The kiln is turned off and when the glass cools the two image is contained within the glass. This is the reason that stained glass lasts so long. Some of the great cathedrals of Europe such as Chartres date back to the 12th and 13th centuries. Although, recently, it has been noted during restorations that perhaps the recent phenomena of car exhausts is beginning to decimate stained glass.

Detail: Bottom view of bottom section
Detail: Bottom view of bottom section

The artwork (starting from the bottom) features the two sleeping Roman guards outside the tomb of Christ. A good friend (now sadly passed away) Dee McFadden posed for these figures. I can still remember the craic we had looking at the resulting photos since Dee dressed up in towels and anything to hand to get the Roman soldier pose. Still can’t look at this window without thinking about him. Above the two soldiers are two angels. They keep the soldiers asleep as Christ rises resplendently above them out of the tomb.

Detail: Top Section
Detail: Top Section
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Resplendent Stained Glass by Joe Campbell: St. Mary’s Killybegs, Ireland

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