Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Antoni Gaudi inspired feature window panel

A few months ago now, Paul Floyd came into my workshop and asked if I would be interested in making a curved frame for a stained glass panel commission that he'd just got.

Now he's got my attention - curved frame, sounds good to me. Tell me more..

Chris and Anne-Marie had been to Barcelona, where they had visited some of the fabulous work of Antoni Gaudi and wanted to have their own piece built into their new home. The commission was for a framed stained glass panel approximately 1100 mm by 1000 mm. The glass design was being carefully thought out and designed by Paul with Chris and Anne-Marie providing the ideas and inspiration.

The frame was down to myself and Paul working together, to get the best possible framework for this wonderful design of glass that he had put forward.

I had looked on the internet, and been blown away by some of the work that Gaudi had had made..So my next job was to get hold of a book with information and loads of pictures to help me get into this properly. A certain internet auction site came into play.

 A few days later I had in front of me a huge book by Maria Costantino click here to go to Amazon books to view. This is a great source of information, especially the photographs of the wooden framework.

Now, as I looked through the book I did feel that the frames could be thinner, I'm sure Gaudi was happy with what he saw, but we where working on a much smaller scale, where the size of the framework had to be in proportion with the overall dimensions, as well as with the glass and lead work.

Paul had had the design all signed off, and I was then concerned with where this frame was going to be sited.

I had questions..

  1. At what height was the frame going to be fixed
  2. What is the frame going to be connected to? beams, plaster-work
  3. On top of a door frame? How?
  4. Is the building very old style or more modern?
I contacted Chris, and we arranged for a site visit. I wanted to get a feel for the space and room around it. And I'm so glad that I did, I changed my mind about the frame a couple of times while I was there with Chris, and my main concern was the frame overpowering the glass, (Gaudis timber work is very chunky)
the depth of the wall it was going to be fitted into was quiet deep around 150 mm. A frame this deep would have definitely overpowered the glass.

After a couple of calls to Chris, who was really good about my concerns, and more or less said yes "Go with what you feel would be right"..I had the design in my head, easier for me to make, easy to install, and probably the most important, easy to change a piece of glass, should a pane get broken.

A pattern had arrived from the site carpenter, and with my dimensions taken at the time of my visit, I knew we would be no more than a millimeter or two away using this pattern.
Paul and I set to work on the pattern, I worked it so that I would be making two frames with the rebate for the thickness that Paul wanted for his glass and leadwork, this worked well for me. I'll put some pics here and show you.

These are the templates from the pattern,
I used these to mark and cut the timber too..

I built the frame onto some 18 mm board to help keep it all safe and secure,
Each joint at the moment is a butt joint, this gets the joint really tight.
Blocks help add pressure when gluing up.
The design of the frame, meant that at it's thinnest in the verticals, the timber between the two rebates would only be 2 mm wide. I was pushing the timber towards the edge of being too close for comfort.. But this is what I wanted from the frame. This was no ordinary joinery job.. Not many workshops would do a piece like this, and yet this is what makes me tick

While I was making the frame Paul was getting on with the glass panels.

Paul normally works to dimensions or straight off the frames. Where I'm more used to working in parallel, to dimensions or patterns. Here we are both working to the same pattern..that I checked, so I was happy and confident. I think that helped Paul, these glass panels had to fit straight away without the need to fettle..
And tension was growing, because the building program had a slot for us to fit the frame..I had decided that to give the frame a Gaudi colour, I would Button Polish the frame. a finish traditionally used on Oak furniture.

Here the frame has been sanded both sides, I shaped the Oak,
Then routered down to get the frame the same section through to the other side.

I have skipped a couple of stages now, I spent a while working out how this frame was going to be built up. And normally I don't mind sharing, but this is different. What I can tell you is that there were over seventy separate pieces in the building up of the frame and working the rebates.

The frame is rounded off with three different size cutters and then blended by hand.

click on photo for larger view

Detail shot of the masons mitre at the bottom centre of the frame.
I have stylized the mitre, I wanted to do it in a way that would catch the eye better, but not been seen before..I love it, and will do more like this..masons mitres are underated

The two frames, one will be fixed (with rebate to take glass), the other is removable just in case a piece of glass has to be replaced. That's why there are peg holes, for screwing the frame together, but will have dummy pegs to appear like a traditionally made frame.

You never know I might have to do it, so the easier it is the better.

The pegs can be removed with pincers, and in the holes are 11/4" x 6 countersunk screws

The first trial fit of the glass in the frame.
The glass fitted exactly as planned, we were both pleased with the outcome, and visitors to the workshops were seeing the work we do before there eyes, and loving it too.
Now the job is really starting to get there.

Here's the frame with two coats of shellac sealer, and six coats of Button Polish
(I mixed the polish to a traditional recipe)

Paul Floyd and myself, all glass dry fitted, ready to go in the car and be fitted that very day.

So within a couple of hours, of the last shot, here we are fitting the frame and glass into its new home for the next few hundred years. I had put a softwood frame around the Oak. This was going to be plastered around, in a curve to bring the flat wall round into the Oak, then the radius on the Oak goes around into the glass. This would re-create the feel that is seen in Antoni Gaudis work. The plasterer was going to have some fun, and I got the phone call that I expected to get about this.. the guys just love the flat stuff, and don't usually do curves.. but he was fine.

So this is how Paul and I left the frame, glass all installed and looking really quite different, the Oak looking lovely, Pine framework all round, ready for plasterboard above and the plaster curving from the flat wall into the corner of the Oak.

December 6th 2013

The house is finished now, and Paul and I are there to give the glass and the frame one last dust, clean and polish to complete the job. It's great to go and revisit a piece, and see how it has become part of someones home, part of the family's history, and I'm sure it will be there for a long while.

Just pictures now...

I hope you enjoyed that. I loved every minute of making the frame. If you would like a piece commissioned then please get in touch..

I will be posting a more equal, Paul & Jamie version on the Open Studios blog that I write too, where you can see more of Pauls work and a little less of mine.

Happy Christmas

All the best.. Jamie

Friday 20th December 2013

I have been in touch with Chris, and he's happy for me to share his testimonial on this page..

Dear Paul and Jamie,

We just wanted let you to know how thrilled we are with the glass panel we commissioned for our new home. When, following a trip to Barcelona, we first came to your studios with vague (some might say fanciful) notions of a Gaudi inspired window, we could’ve little imagined the end result would realise our somewhat hazy vision so spectacularly.

From the very start of the project, you involved us fully and made us feel part of the design process, though all creative credit must go to yourselves. The sinuous, naturalistic frame Jamie created reflects the research he conducted into Gaudi’s work, and is very evocative of the woodwork at Casa Batllo.  It is a truly breathtaking  piece of carpentry. Similarly, Paul’s stained glass suggests the wonderful sense of fluidity and uninhibited movement in Gaudi’s work.  The circular motif again echoes the stained glass at Casa Batllo, as does the subtle blend of textures and colours. It is stunning work of the highest quality.

When we commissioned the panel, we were looking for something that would pleasingly fill a void in a wall, and add something a little different to our entrance hall. What we got was the ‘Wow Factor’ in spades, with nearly every visitor passing comment on this striking piece of work. Gaudi was all about architecture as art, and that’s what you’ve delivered, and at a remarkable price, given the quality of the workmanship and the visual impact the piece has. So thank you both for your dedication, craftsmanship and, above all, imagination. You have enriched our home with something beautiful and unique, and we could not be more pleased. We hope to be able to commission you again in the future, and wouldn’t hesitate in recommending you to anyone else considering a similar kind of project.  

Very best wishes and thank you again,

Chris and Anne-Marie Fewtrell

and Chris's email..

Hi Jamie,

I've just read it and I'm even more in awe of the craftsmanship that went into the construction of the panel. I think the blog reads really well and I have absolutely no objection to any of the content, so please feel free to add my testimonial as and when.

Thanks so much again, a very Merry Christmas to you and your family from all of us.

Best wishes,



ChrisHasFlair said...


Fantastic work. The width of the frame members looks just right with the size of the glass and the opening in the wall. I like the sculptured look - especially the "masons mitre" (a new term for me).


Jamie said...

Chris, you're a star. Thanks for the comments, you know what it's like when working on pieces, and I've seen you put just as much thought and effort into your work. It was great fun, and really works well, thanks again.


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