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Monday, April 2, 2012

Cockatoo and Parrots

One sunny afternoon about 12 years ago, the trade show department came to me with a "freebie". One of the booth designers had ordered a compressed foam "window" that was in 5 sections, and when assembled, it was over 8' high. They asked me if I wanted it for a Gallery Glass project. (oh, yeah!) That started a creative urge that was hard to control. My biggest delimma was choosing a design that was worthy of a project that large. One thing I knew--it had to be Tiffany. I rushed home and got out my coffee table book of his designs and it didn't take but about 5 minutes to eliminate all the possibilities other than Cockatoo and Parrots.
I immediately started painting the project in my head and didn't sleep much until I had the design blown up and leaded. One little problem was that the foam shapes didn't have a lip in the back like a picture frame, so I could only cut small pane sized pieces of styrene that would be painted separately and later silacone glued in place on the front of the openings. Tiffany's bird panels are some of the most stunning examples of his brilliance and they have been known to cause me to come down with a bad case of artistic compulsion that drives me until the project is completed. If you want to build one of these yourself, don't think you can lead it in an hour--or even two. There are lots of little feathers, leaves and berries to outline. But once you start painting, make sure you have the take out menu handy because your family won't eat for a while. There are at least 30 colors of paint and several hundred areas to be interpreted. It is ONE of the most intricate designs that I've ever painted. If you ask nice, I might show you some of the ones that are even worse--or better, depending on your level of skill. But this motif is unquestionably my favorite. The finished panel is 8' high and is close to the size that Tiffany created the original. It probably couldn't be done any smaller because the feathers would run together. Bigger is easier, in this particular case.
When I was finished, I needed to mount the panels onto a big piece of foam core board because the window framing would not stand alone. Of course, once I mounted it, light was not going to come through it, so I taped clear Christmas lights to the foam core behind the pane shapes. Then I taped the two displays together around the outside. You can see that it effectively lights the project in the picture below, but the points of light are too strong. I would probably work out some different way to display it, but I didn't make the display for any particular occasion and it ended up in my basement for 12 years. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to bring it to our office and set it outside the entry door to our department. Several people have commented that it definitely improved our "curb appeal".
Let me just say that as intricate and complicatged as the shading is--it doesn't come close to the grace and beauty of Tiffany's original--and he did it all with colored glass, not paint. Amazing!

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