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 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 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.
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. The panel is then very carefully turned over and the first solder is 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. David Kennedy
For those of you that are interested in the symbolism and meanings of poppies click here
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.
Round Clematis Tutorial 3, in which I cover steps 11 – 14 including foiling, flat soldering, outer lead attachment, final soldering and applying the patina.
I am now starting to foil the pieces, I do this by removing them one at a time and then replacing them as I proceed. I find this method works very well as you are able to make minor adjustments as you work across the panel. It is important during this process to make sure you burnish the foil onto the edge of the glass. I always use a putty knife for this process.
Here is the panel with all the foiling complete. I will now proceed to flat solder the panel on the front side. I use 50/50 solder to do this if I have any, if not 60/40 will do. Once the front face has been flat soldered, remove the template and repeat the process on the reverse. I use a “U” shaped lead came to provide a nice neat finish to the outside edge of the panel.
First soldering was completed on both sides and the perimeter lead is in place. You can see the two pieces of black tape securing the ends to the panel. It’s always good practice to place the join on a seam for neatness. The final bead solder can now take place to finish the panel.
Once the bead soldering is complete all flux and solder residue should be removed. I would use hot water and a little detergent for this, then clean with” 0000 ” steel wool. This will make the patina take a lot better. Finally, I use a little black stove polish on a brush to buff up the finished panel.
In this Round Clematis Tutorial 1, I will cover the next four steps. They mainly cover the background on the left-hand side of the panel.
Round Clematis Tutorial Step 3
You can never be quite sure how a color scheme is going to turn out. So I have started this panel by cutting two flowers, some background and leaves. This is the color scheme in my mind at this point so laying it out will help future glass choices. I have settled on a Youghiogheny ” Laburnham ” glass for the flower centres. This may yet change as the panel develops. I find it’s best to keep ideas fluid in the early stages.
Continuing to build up the picture I have now added more of the background glass. This is a Youghiogheny stipple glass, code NO 57 ” Neodymium Pink with Peach Gold and Bubblegum. The background glass has a rather nice natural effect which I am trying to work into the panel. This means cutting the pieces very carefully using a band-saw.
Now with more background, flowers and leaves are added. Flower glass is Youghiogheny code N367 ” Neodymium Pink, Dark Purple and Blue”. Leaves are also Youghiogheny code 1431 ” Lime and Emerald Green “. You can now see the natural effect starting to appear in the background. I have used this to create some interest and balance the flowers on the opposite side.
I have taken the background glass down the left-hand side of the panel. I am now thinking of introducing some pink fracture and streamer glass on the right-hand side. This is to create more interest and texture behind the lower flowers. I would also like to introduce some water effect along the bottom of the panel. For this, I will use a ripple effect glass.
With all the sixteen panels and the two frames complete it was now time to install the window. The first job was to fix the two secondary frames into the window recesses top and bottom. These frames will fit flush up to the window, exactly matching the existing frame. Once they are in place we will fit the sixteen separate panels that make up the whole installation.
Frames installed and the first big sigh of relief. You can see from the pictures above that both secondary frames have a cross-member fitted. This provides added strength and support for the leaded panels which we will begin to fit now.
Fitting The Panels
We have decided to start in the top left-hand corner and work across and down. The upper frame is actually six inches taller than the lower frame. Here are the first two panels in situ, so far so good
This is panel no three showing the very top of the lighthouse installed. This is the largest panel in the whole installation so we were glad to see it in place. Second big sigh of relief, this concluded our first days’ work.
Poulfur Window Installation Day Two
Day 2 and we now only have one more panel to fit in the top section, everything lining up and progressing well.
The top section completed and two left-hand side panels of the lower section fitted.
We were glad to see this central panel in place as it is the focal point of the whole installation.
Poulfur School Window Installation completed! Here is the finished window photographed from the upper floor through a glass screen. There is a floor to ceiling glass screen on the upper floor that allows a full view of the window.