Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.

Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.
CLICK ON THE RABBIT ( yes, those are cabinets) TO SEE MY PORTFOLIO, AND LEARN MORE ABOUT MY SERVICES...theartofthehome.com

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Clear as glass

Wood grained doors with painted windows and transom welcome you to St. John/Assumption Catholic Church, Belle Plaine, MN.
The vestibule at this little country church had been "remuddled" so many times over the years, I really wish I could show you how awful it was, but nobody took a picture before they started dismantling the layers of paneling and ickiness.  Once the old linoleum was replaced with stone flooring, and the plaster revealed from under cedar paneling and repaired, they called me in.  The doors and transom had been added during the "Undecorating-of-Catholic-Churches" period, and were very plain and modern looking.  They didn't have the budget for leaded stained glass, but wondered if I could do a more realistic wood graining job, to match the nearly new oak front doors, and then somehow give some color to the windows and transom.

This is a "quickie" version of painted oak wood grain.  It fools most non-woodworkers, and fits in a modest budget.

I'd have liked to match the painted glass to the original painted glass panels in the church windows, but though I work in oils on statue painting, and occasionally portraits, painting on glass so that it's beautiful from both sides is a skill that would take a lot of practice to master.  I love the parishioners of this church, and deeply appreciate their commitment to being my patrons, but I just can't devote several months right now to learning to paint like the artists who painted the scenes in their original late 1800's windows.  As it was, the job took long enough that Father Keith seemed to be getting tired of seeing me still there every Sunday morning, but not in a pew!  I had to simplify it.

I used sign enamel for the line work, then switched to translucent glass paint for the colors. Sorry about the blurry picture, but I thought for those who want to try this themselves, a blurry photo of the supplies was better than none at all!  I think I was having a bad camera day :). 

First, I had to research the proper symbols both for the location in the building, and to represent the name of the church.  The church is St. John's, but it took in the parish of Assumption several years ago, so both needed to be shown.  Although I sometimes think I spend more time in Catholic churches than many Catholics, I'm not one, and I've found that when it comes to symbols, colors, etc, there are rules that few people, even Catholics, know.  I'm grateful to friends who heeded my emails and phone calls, putting out requests for ideas for Assumption (and my apologies to a certain artist who was roused from sleep by one friend, then later pestered with emails from others...apparently everyone thought of the same person for answers).

The new window picks up details from the old windows beyond the doorway.
In the end, Lisa, who writes the newsletter for St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Jordan MN, a church for which I also do a lot of statue restoration, had access to just the information I needed.  She found a couple of options, and the concept was approved by my favorite renegade nun, who wishes to remain nameless, possibly due to my mentioning that we weren't exactly asking for diocese design opinion on this one (I still haven't forgiven them for vetoing clouds on the sanctuary ceiling, saying Catholic churches don't put them there...somebody forgot to tell Michelangelo this?).  I also got design and color inspiration from stained glass in the absolutely gorgeous Cathedral of St. Paul, in St. Paul, MN. 

Painted glass design taken from windows in the Cathedral of St. Paul, St. Paul, MN.

T.C. Fogarty, my carpenter, was instrumental in securing the grant for this project, rounding up the trades people, and doing all the carpentry bits.  Without his hard work, which is apparently as natural to him as breathing, the project wouldn't have happened, much less turned out as beautiful as it did.  The entrance to a holy place is truly sacred, and I am honored to have been given a place on the team whose job it was to polish up this one.

You can see more of my work on this church and others on my website, theartofthehome.com.

If you have questions about the products or techniques used, and a few tested and not used, feel welcome to email me.  dawnmariedelara@gmail.com

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