Behind the Scenes
We would like to give you a tour through the creation of our most recent architectural art glass installation. It was done in collaboration with Dean and Dean Architects and is located at the new Columbus Orthopaedic Clinic and Outpatient Surgery Center here in Mississippi.
The first step for Pearl River Glass Studio is always to consider the final environment of our installations. All of our designers take into account the architecture, color, and light conditions of the space as we begin to paint our first concept sketches. Through dialogue with the architect, clients and our design team, as well as shop drawings and prototypes from both sides, both the design of the glass and the installation evolve significantly over the course of a project.
Thoughts from Andrew Young;
“Opportunities like this are a gift. When our studio received a call from Dean and Dean Architects in Jackson we were given a great opportunity. Columbus Orthopaedic Center was just underway in a fast track building program to add a new aquatic treatment lab. The architect designed three large windows to allow natural light into the facility. The plans called for a work of glass art to add beauty to the space and to help screen an objectionable view through the windows into a parking area. Our triptych of art glass panels provides a focal point for the room, and brings an element that is unique to just this facility. The vision motivated us to meet the tight production schedule and their opening date.
I wanted to create an art work that complimented the silver tiles room and the aquatic treadmill. Our innovation in technique for this project was the incorporation of silver mica powder in a special glaze that repeated the shimmering quality of the room and the silver color of the adjacent wall tile. The aqua blue glass color reinforces the idea of water as treatment; and the vibrant slashes of contrasting color add a vibrancy to it all. To calm and anchor the design I incorporated a dramatic use of black glass, which also adds a visual interest as the glass shifts from transparent to opal, breaking up the view through the glass.
It is not until a project is completed that you realize what was accomplished. Many people, from all walks of life, will use this facility in the treatment of their condition. The art glass serves as part of the healing process by engaging the creative imagination of the patient. The aquatic lab will treat the patients’ body, mind, and soul.”
A word from Lacy Johnson;
“When I am first handed a design sketch and I am filled in about the information on a job, I am excited about the endless possibilities of how to create the work. I am so proud to be a part of such a vision of art. Before beginning such a complex project, it is not uncommon to first make a sample. Glass selection, or choosing the array of colors from our System 96 glass, is an intuitive process. Transparent glasses allow more light to come through and opalescent glass appears darker in comparison. I am drawn to the push and pull of these dichotomies. The location has soft natural lighting, so that was factored into my final selections. Glass work can be much like making a painting. You have to control the various colors of glass just as if you were painting. Crushed glass, when fired in the kiln, creates intricate patterns that unify the panel and bring a beauty to the piece that is unique to kiln formed glass. Even air that is trapped in the layers of glass is a part of the effect of the artwork, as they become encapsulated bubbles when the glass is fired; giving the piece a wonderful, watery appearance. We call this “glassy.”
A new material we tried in the design of Columbus Orthopaedic was silver mica powder, applied as a glass paint. When encapsulated in the glass, it has a shimmering and flowing paint quality that was a beautiful contrast to the vibrant slashes of color in the panels. We mixed the powder with a binder and applied to the glass surface as a paint. As a painter, I loved the expressive brushstroke quality. It was a pleasure to be a part of the project, and work with the other members of the team who each brought their individual artistic and creative energy into making this installation.”
The final success of the project relies on the install system and how it interacts with the art glass. At Columbus Orthopaedic, we think they work very well together. The cable design holds each panel upright, and the effect is that they appear to float weightlessly; perfectly suspended in space. The effect of the hardware is a strong, neatly presented framing system with minimal interruption to the space and no distraction from the glass. The stainless steel cable is discretely anchored through the tile floor. Above, the cable disappears through the drywall ceiling and is fastened to the overhead structural steel I-beam.
The Mission of Kiln Formed Glass at Pearl River:
The studio has come a long way with kiln formed glass, and we are still learning so much from every project. We have pursued fused glass jobs, and have expanded our facilities, tools, kilns, and ideas, and we continue to push ourselves past the limits of what we know. Experimentation and the inevitable mistakes that come with it are just part of the nature of how we learn at Pearl River Glass, because every experiment, successful or not, teaches us more about glass and its boundless opportunities. We embrace risk as part of the momentum that keeps us moving forward. The proof is in successes like this and how far we have come from our early timid kiln-formed work, and have experimented all the way to competent, aesthetically sophisticated panels that are each eight feet high and safety laminated. We believe the technical understanding that we glean from each job is a vehicle towards an ever expanding list of possibilities.