Tuesday, November 17, 2015

OFF THE CHARTRES







One of my mother's chosen artistic mediums was stained glass.  She learned the art from my grandmother, whose intricate Tiffany-inspired lampshades brought color to every room in the house.  I remember them staying up late, cutting, grinding, soldering, making beautiful beveled-glass windows, pyramids, and even a rendition of Monet's Waterlilies in glass.

One Christmas, I decided to make a stained glass ornament for my Dad.  I chose a sailboat design, toiled over choosing the glass, cutting and grinding it, wrapping the edges with foil, and soldering the pieces together.  It was a far more labor-intensive process than I'd anticipated and the finished product was far from window-worthy!

However, watching my mother and grandmother create masterpieces, and then attempting one of my own, gave me a deep appreciation for the art of glass.  Traditionally, stained glass in churches was meant to give the worshipper a feeling of being closer to God.  Not only does the beauty of stained glass in a place of worship provide an elevated sense of holiness and acknowledgement of beauty, it also gives me a renewed appreciation of the extraordinary craftsmanship of a work of art, such as the Rose Window at Chartres Cathedral, outside of Paris.

An early example of French Gothic architecture, Chartres Cathedral is extremely well preserved.  One of the most interesting things about the design is that the architectural style was actually adapted in order to allow more space for stained glass!  Instead of a mixture of different types of glass in the windows, which was the standard in a church during that time period, the windows of Chartres were all full color.

I would have liked to visit Chartres with my grandmother and mother because I know how much it would have meant to them to see and experience such a masterpiece.  Truly, though, I was able to build a deep appreciation of the artistry and beauty of stained glass right at home, surrounded by their very own versions of church windows.  And I continue to experience it every day, when I turn on my bedside lamp.  And I continue to experience it every day, when I turn on my bedside lamp.

Boots: Balenciaga

Photos by Kathy Paciello.

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