Artist In Focus - Linda Banks

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The use of stained glass is an old and labour intensive art form. Throughout its thousand year history the technique has been traditionally used to adorn the windows of churches and other significant structures, and for this reason was normally constructed on flat two dimensional panels. But it would only be a matter of time before artists and sculptors alike would begin to pull the world of stained glass into three dimensions, reinventing it in the form of sculpture and other ornamental creations.

Surrey based artist Linda Banks is among those to adapt these traditional methods of stained glass construction, using coloured glass shards and other adornments to create a bold and striking array of lamp shades and mirrors. To make her unique works, Linda uses the copper foil technique, a method first popularised by famed designers Louis Comfort Tiffany and John La Farge, artists whose works remain as popular and revered today as they were almost a century ago. This foil technique is why Linda’s designs can be realised in three dimensions, allowing for cut pieces of glass to be joined around a shaped mould.

“I try to push the boundaries of the technique a bit further, using wire and fused glass in my designs,” says Linda. “Every piece is unique because each sheet of glass has its own characteristics and the designs are different to the classic Tiffany styles. Inspiration comes from the natural world, such as a peacock feather or the pattern of water running down a window."

Below we will take you through the step by step construction of Linda’s highly praised “Marbellous” shade (pictured above) a piece which was chosen for exhibit at The Arts and Crafts House in Cumbria and the 2013 New Glass – Ancient Skill, Contemporary Artform exhibition in Blackwell; not to mention numerous appearances in leading arts, crafts, and lifestyle magazines.

- Once the design has been decided upon each piece of glass is cut to its desired shape, the edges are then ground as to achieve a neat and tidy fit.

- Next, each edge is hand coated with a  strip of adhesive-backed copper foil, the edges and sides are rubbed down to ensure the tape adheres securely.

- After this stage the foil is coated with flux to make sure its coat of solder affixes smoothly. Smaller pieces have to be handled and held in place with pliers because of how hot they get from the melting solder.

- Once every piece has been soldered, a process known as “tinning”, they can then be fused with spot soldering.

- At this point the shade must be bead soldered, filling in the seams and helping to achieve a flush, flat finish. In order to achieve a strong overall structure, this process is carried out on both the inside and outside of the shade.

- Once complete the solder is given a black finish with liquid patina, making for a stark and delightful contrast against the coloured glass.

-  Lastly, the lamp is  meticulously cleaned both inside and out.

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With over 700 individual marbles and pieces of glass going into the making of this lamp, each going through the above stages, you can see how making such an intricate artefact takes Linda over 70 hours to complete.

Author: Luke Matheson