Saint Brigid’s Cross is as much a symbol of Ireland as the Shamrock and the Harp. Celebrated every year on the 1st of 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 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 are 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.
This is the first post for some time because of some issues I have had with my website over the last six months. I won’t bore you with the details as I am confident that they are now ironed out. As with many other businesses during this pandemic commissions and other work have dried up. Trying to take the positive out of this situation has given me the opportunity to produce some new pattern designs. This has involved learning how to use digital software, which has been interesting to say the very least.
Snowdrops are one of the first flowers to show in late January, early February time and are a favourite among Irish gardeners. If you would like to view the largest collection of snowdrops in Ireland then Bellefield House, Co Offaly is the place to visit. This Snowdrops PDF pattern, which seems apt for this time of year contains 216 pieces. It measures 400 mm square and has a circular option if required. Click the link to view more Stained Glass Patterns
Stained Glass PDF Pattern Information
Downloadable PDF pattern prints actual size 15 3/4 inches x 15 3/4 inches, ( 400 mm x 400 mm ) across six pages. Instructions are included for enlarging the pattern to your required size when printing. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to print this pattern.
This Apple Blossom Panel has been sitting on my workbench for the past two months. As you can see from this picture I have all the pieces cut out ready for foiling and soldering. The next step I take at this stage is to place the cut pieces on a light-box. I am pretty confident in myself that it will look good when complete. But its always worth a preview if possible.
Here it is on the light-box and now you can see the fractures in the background glass. I have positioned this on the right-hand side in the two largest pieces. This is to create some interest and add to the composition, balancing the flowers on the left.
Happy enough with the way things are looking on the lightbox I have now completed foiling and soldering. The panel is flat soldered first on the front side, the panel is then turned over and process repeated on the rear. The outer lead “U” came is then fitted, final bead soldering takes place next before attaching hooks.
This is the rear of the panel with the fractures in the background glass clearly visible. These are small fragments of glass embedded in the surface of the sheet. When viewed from the front they create shadows and a fragmented light, adding atmosphere to the subject. This glass is made by Uroboros, code 10-55 Cobalt Blue, White and Green,
Completed Apple Blossom Panel with chain attached and hanging in front of a window. Its only now that the effect of the background fractures are visible. The ring mottles in the flower petals also add shadows and light variations to the piece.
Effort number three in my ” Tiny Tiffany” series Scene with Irises. This time I am using irises which work so well in stained glass. The panel is 12 inch in diameter but could be re-sized larger if required. I am curious about these small panels to see how a landscape works in such a small space.
I look at this panel as having five layers. The sky is farthest back, then the mountains followed by the water. The light green glass makes up the foreground placing the flowers right at the front. I find this is a good method to use in stained glass as it helps get perspective into the picture.
By putting the flowers in the front of the scene I was able to make them larger. This helped as I needed to get some small pieces of yellow in to light them up a bit. It was a bit of a challenge but like to think I managed it ok. I find using the water glass adds another dimension even though the piece is so small. It underlines the mountains and brings your eye into the foreground.
Here is the finished panel placed in a window on crescent stand. These are available here
As you can see from the above picture I have also soldered two round eyelets onto the edging came for attaching a chain.
Stained Glass Pattern Information
The pattern for this piece is available in the pattern store as a PDF file. The original panel size is 12 inches which can be scaled up using the printing instructions included in the PDF download.
Downloadable PDF pattern prints actual size 12-inch diameter, ( 305 mm x 305 mm ) across four pages. Instructions are provided for enlarging the pattern to your required size when printing. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to print this pattern.
The starting point for this Two Irises panel was the upper background piece of glass. I had this leftover from a previous commission and wanted to make full use of its beautiful colors. The original panel is 15-inch diameter and I had enough for the area above the flowers. The purple glass looked so good against it making the Two Irises an obvious choice. For the lower background, behind the leaves, I found another leftover piece that fitted the space. I sketched out my design idea and spent a little time making sure of the position of the flowers. It was important to me to get as much of the upper background in as possible. After all, this was the whole point of making this panel. Having settled on my finished pattern I set about cutting out the glass pieces, 59 in total.
The Story Behind The Border
The finished panel looked superb even if I say so myself, I couldn’t believe how well it turned out. But there was one thing I wasn’t happy about. At the centre of the panel between the Two Irises, I have a central leave that runs from the top to the bottom of the panel. This was an integral part of my design but it creates a slight weakness in the structure of the panel. This is what is known as a “hinge Joint” and is something you want to avoid if at all possible. Now I wasn’t going to take my panel apart so my only option was to strengthen the perimeter. One of the best ways to add strength to any panel is by adding a border.
So here it is my completed panel hanging in a window.
It seems appropriate, given the time of year to share ” The Green Man ” with you.
This is my Green Man stained glass panel, he is 17 inches in diameter. The total number of pieces in this panel is approx 56. If you search for The Green Man online you will find a huge variety of images in all sorts of mediums. From pub signs to wall plaques, it has also become very popular with stained glass artists. This is my take on the subject here using Youghiogheny Stipple Glass. The variation pictured below is 12-inch diameter and uses cathedral glass. Even though I have adapted the pattern you can see the difference in how the choice of glass affects the look of the panel.
The history of the Green Man image dates right back to pagan times. Found in many forms the most common feature being foliage sprouting from his face. He symbolises the cycle of life, death and rebirth, heralding in Spring after the long dark Winter. Although the image has adorned many ancient buildings the Term “Green Man” is more modern. In doing my research for this post I have come across a great many different stories of our foliated friend. One thing is for sure though he is around to stay, there is even an annual festival held in Wales.
There are strong Irish connections among many others in pagan folklore. Most of these centre around Beltane the Celtic festival of fire. Held on the 1st of May between the Spring equinox and the Summer solstice and also known as a cross-quarter day. There would be feasting and rituals celebrating fertility and rebirth. Fires were lit and the cattle were driven through the smoke to protect them from disease.
This Gothic Daffodils panel started with the frame. I had managed to salvage some old pitch pine gothic window frames. At the time I was building my own home so my initial thoughts were to incorporate them into the build. That didn’t happen and after renovation, I still wanted to use them. So framed stained glass panels seemed like a perfect way to make use of them. I made a base, using some heavy oak timber and mounted the frame upright. There were eight in total, four with a single pane and four with double panes.
I created this in late February, early March when the daffodils were in bloom. To create the composition I photographed as many clumps of flowers as I could find. Then after looking through these I chose various elements to include in my design. I then made a full-size template and drew out a sketch. This was then refined and worked into a pattern for stained glass to fit my frame.
A lot of work went into this piece, the colours are vibrant together and the whole piece reminds me of spring. I was very pleased with the end result and I hope everyone else likes it as well.
Dimensions including the frame : width 375cm x height 1060cm
Stained Glass Pattern Information
The pattern for this Gothic Daffodils panel is available in the pattern store as a PDF file. The original panel size is 12 inches which can be scaled up using the printing instructions included in the PDF download.
Downloadable PDF pattern prints actual size 36 x 12 inches ( 915 mm x 305 mm ) across eight pages. Instructions are provided for enlarging the pattern to your required size when printing. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to print this pattern.