Saint Brigid’s Cross is as much a symbol of Ireland as the Shamrock and the Harp. Celebrated every year on the 1st February St Brigid’s Day is a major event in the Irish calendar. Over the years the cross has become a prominent feature of Irish art, design and culture. Born in Dundalk in 450AD St Brigid was the founder of the first monastery in County Kildare, Ireland. She died in 525AD aged 75 and was buried within the church she created. Her remains were exhumed years later and brought to Downpatrick to rest alongside Saints Patrick and Columcille. In the year 2023 Saint Brigid’s Day is set to become a national holiday in Ireland.
This is my own design of the cross, surrounded by Snowdrops to welcome the arrival of Spring. The panel is 17 inches in diameter, made using the copper foil method and edged in lead came.
A brief history
The presence of Brigid’s cross in Ireland is likely far older than Christianity. The Celtic Goddess Brigid was one of the Tuatha Dé Danann and her day was the feast of Imbolc. Imbolc is an ancient Celtic festival now also known as St Brigid’s Day, marking the beginning of spring. This was celebrated at the start of February, halfway between the winter solstice and spring equinox.
There are many stories and legends surrounding the creation of the cross. The cross made of rushes today is very likely the descendant of the pagan sunwheel. This symbol invoked the great cosmic powers to bless the Earth with fertility, life, prosperity, and peace. The cross divides the circle into four parts, which represent the solar calendar. These symbolize the four annual seasons which have a very significant influence on the agricultural cycles.
Saint Brigid’s Crosses are made and displayed across Ireland today to ward off evil, fire and hunger.
This is my Tranquility Garden Sculpture which I created from a single piece of live edge Ash timber. Each of these timber pieces is a unique shape which from a creative point of view is perfect for stained glass.
Preparation and Inspiration
I had this standing upright in the corner of my studio for a few weeks before I started work on it. My initial idea was for four round panels with some sort of runic pattern in each one. After I had cleaned up and shaped my piece of timber I started to think more about which colours to use. The Reiki or chakra colours work very well in these sculptures so I chose to base my design on these. Starting at the base I drew four circles reducing each one until they fitted my piece of timber. This worked out quite well so I now had my timber shaped and finished and my cut-outs marked up. All I had to do now was come up with a design.
I wanted to use two colours for each circle so had to keep my designs simple. The only problem I had was seven colours and four circles so I needed to use another colour. I solved this by placing the lotus flower at the base in white glass using dark purple for the background. Next, I came up with a basic three petal Celtic spiral using indigo and blue. The yin and yang symbol followed, some intricate glass cutting here and finally the triangle in a circle. The three points that make up this symbol represent the” Arcane” the “Devine” and the “magical”.
These sculptures can be customised and made to order, prices range from €400 to €1200 plus any shipping costs. This particular piece sold within hours of completion.
This May Bush garden sculpture is a commission piece. Made for presentation to a retiring teacher in a local school who kept the tradition alive during his tenure.
A little about the piece
The upper section consists of a large piece of live edge ash timber, sourced from a local sawmill in New Ross. This acts as a frame for the five leaded stained glass panels and sits on a polished concrete base. It stands 1.6 metres high (5′ 3″) and 500 mm (20″) wide, with the base measuring 300 mm x 495 mm (12″ x 19″). The base has a 15 mm hole in each corner enabling the structure to be fixed into the ground. These garden sculptures are unique one-off pieces and are available to order, prices range between €400 to €1200.
The May Bush Custom
The custom of decorating a bush for May Day in Ireland goes right back to Pagan times. One of the many rituals celebrating fertility, rebirth and the start of summer taking place on ” Beltane“. This was the Celtic festival of fire held on 1st May between the Spring equinox and Summer solstice.
It is still widespread in County Wexford where it even has its own Facebook page. On May Day morning the children would get a small Hawthorn bush in blossom. Upon this, they would tie ribbons, tinsel and coloured paper. Old Christmas decorations and even painted eggshells from Easter.
They would then parade the festooned bush around the village, collecting pennies on the way. In the end, they would burn the bush and spend their pennies.
Cherry Blossom Transom pattern 33.5 x 18 inches. This size would fit above a doorway and could also hang at the top of a window frame. Instructions for adjusting the pattern size before printing are supplied in the PDF download. Custom sizes available on request.
It’s April and everywhere across the northern hemisphere, Cherry Blossom trees are blooming. Here in Ireland Herbert Park in Dublin has the largest number of trees in the capital. They are also visible in St Stephens Green, Trinity College and the Botanic Gardens.
The country most famous for these beautiful trees would have to be Japan. Here every spring “Hanami” is celebrated with outdoor festivals, picnics and parties. These take place during both day and night time under the blooming trees. This tradition dates back as far as the 8th century and is very much the highlight of the Japanese calendar.
Stained Glass PDF Pattern Information
Downloadable PDF pattern prints actual size 33.5 inches x 18 inches, ( 853 mm x 458 mm ) across nine pages. Instructions are included for enlarging the pattern to your required size when printing. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to print this pattern.
Saint Patrick’s Day will soon be upon us once again. Last year, marked the beginning of the pandemic and the cancellation of all the parades. While there will be some virtual celebrations this year we can still only hold out hope for the future. So to try and mark the day this year I have designed this Triquetra Claddagh Pattern. The hands of friendship are holding the heart, which shows love to form the central part of the design. The crown for loyalty sits above the heart and a circle intertwined with shamrock and Triquetra knots frames the picture. Click the link to view more Stained Glass Patterns
Claddagh A Brief History
The Claddagh is one of Ireland’s most recognized international symbols. Originating from the small County Galway fishing village of the same name in Ireland. Countless myths and legends surrounding the origins of the first ring dating as far back as 1700. Credit for the design generally goes to Richard Joyce, a local silversmith. Sometimes used for friendship, “Claddagh” rings are more popular as engagement and wedding rings. Generally, these are the modern meanings of how to wear the ring.
Right-handed with the point of the heart toward the fingertips shows the wearer is “single”. If the heart is pointing to the wrist of the right-hand the meaning is “in a relationship”.
Left-handed with the point of the heart toward the fingertips shows the wearer to be “engaged”. If the heart is pointing to the wrist of the left hand the meaning is “marriage”.
Stained glass Pattern Information
A 540 mm ( approx 21.25 inches) square pattern with a circular option and border pieces if required.
Downloadable PDF pattern prints actual size 21.25 inches x 21.25 inches, ( 540 mm x 540 mm ) across six pages. Instructions supplied for enlarging the pattern to your required size when printing. You will need “Adobe Acrobat Reader” to print this pattern.
Finishing up this Slade Poppies panel now after adding more blooms on both sides the picture is starting to emerge, really feels like it is coming together now. I still have the seed pods and some flower centres to do but for now, I am concentrating on the remaining flowers.
Nearly there now, just have the last three flowers to do.Once every piece is cut I will then commence foiling, making any further adjustments as I proceed. The next process would be the first solder on the front of the panel. Panel is then very carefully turned over and the first solder repeated on the rear. I would then add the 12 mm zinc framing before doing the final bead soldering of all the seams. The panel would then have to be thoroughly cleaned before the patina can be applied. Acetone can be very useful in preparing the Zinc prior to application.
Here is the completed panel, lit from behind by daylight. I am really pleased with the way this has turned out, it is so nice to be able to bring a project to fruition so long after the initial idea.
Slade Poppies pattern prints full size 34.5″ x 23″ ( 880 mm x 590 mm ) on twelve sheets of A4 paper. Alternatively, you can take the PDF file to a print shop and have it printed on one sheet of paper. I can provide custom sizes and adjustments if required. Thank you for your time and interest in my work.
For those of you that are interested in the symbolism and meanings of poppies click here
I have called this post ” Slade Poppies Part 2 ” as it is about bringing the top and bottom section together. The second row of flowers have now been added and at this point, I am quite happy with the way things are progressing. Even so one can never be sure exactly how it’s going to look once the backlighting is introduced. The method I use is to hold the glass up to the light and make my selection before cutting and proceed that way. It’s the same system I use for all my work, something I have developed over many years. A lot of glass artists like to mount their pieces on a sheet of clear glass using Blu Tack which is then held up to the light. This provides a comprehensive preview of the panel, although it would be fairly time-consuming.
With the top and bottom sections progressing so well I have now decided to build the two sides. This will help connect the two sections together. Starting out with the right-hand side which worked out well I then moved onto the left. I have also added a couple of blooms just above the leaves. Feeling pretty good about the way it’s going now and looking forward to filling in the middle section.
There is never a particular place for starting to cut out the glass for a project. With this panel, I began by first cutting the leaves and soil pieces at the bottom of the panel. I was fairly confident with my glass choices here, using a Youghiogheny stipple glass 4117 SP green, ice white, bluish-grey was for the leaves and a granite backed Uroboros 65 – 17 light & dark browns for the soil pieces. The spaces for the seed pods have been left empty at this stage as I will add them later when I have a better idea of the finished panel.
The top and bottom background pieces were then cut from the whole sheet of Uroboros 10 – 16 light & dark browns, turquoise with mini fractures. This is can be tricky even with the use of a band saw so worth taking your time over. The two sides have worked out fine but the middle piece has broken off in slightly the wrong place. These things happen which means I will have to adjust the pattern slightly by moving a couple of flowers.
Slade Poppies ( Initial Stage ) Adding The Flowers
With the first of the flowers cut I am able to position them on top of the background glass. I then mark around them using a fine permanent marker. The background can now be cut away using the band saw, leaving a perfect fit for the flower. This can be a slow process but the advantage is I am able to build up the image as I go. The glass used for the poppies is Uroboros 60 – 25 red & orange with white.
Here I have managed to re-position the two flowers in the middle of the panel. This completes the top and bottom sections leaving the central part to do. However, now everything is back on track I am feeling confident of a successful outcome.
The story of this Poppies at Slade panel began around five years ago. While in the UK on a family holiday I was fortunate enough to visit Kansa Stained Glass in Yorkshire where I purchased these two fantastic sheets of Uroboros art glass. This glass has become very hard to obtain in Europe so to find two whole sheets definitely made my day. I have created many poppy panels over the years as the grow wild down here in Slade and are a constant inspiration so my first thoughts were of a large poppy panel. it has however taken this long to bring it to fruition.
This sheet was where I created the basic structure of the panel. Using fairly transparent tracing paper I sketched out the flowers and then adjusted them to suit the background. This way I was able to select the background glass I wanted to show. I also wanted to add a soil layer at the bottom of the panel which gave me a bit to play within my glass selection. The code for this sheet is Uroboros – 10 – 16 Light and dark browns, turquoise with mini fractures.
The code for this sheet is Uroboros 60 – 25 Red and orange with white. This sheet I would use for my poppies. Once again I would need another glass for some foliage. I wanted to try and weave these two sheets together just using the color within the glass to create the panel. The background glass in particular made me think of a Liberty/Art Nouveau feel. I started a design but for one reason or another, I had to put it aside. Eventually, in October of 2018, I managed to get back to it and produce three patterns, one full size ( 23 x 34.5 inches ) one reduced size ( 15.75 x 36 inches ) and a pair of door panels ( 10.25 x 36.75 inches ) each panel with an optional border.