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Stained Glass Cityscapes

Nancy Nicholson's innovative style of glass painting and portraying cityscapes are not commonly seen in contemporary stained glass.

Nancy Nicholson's one-of-a-kind cityscapes and limited edition panels capture the true beauty she finds the city has to offer — the crowded urban landscapes, where shapes come together in a perfect collage of light and shadow, brick, glass, and steel. Her innovative style of glass painting and portraying cityscapes are not commonly seen in contemporary stained glass.

Nancy starts by creating a small sketch and then a full-size drawing. She uses a transfer paper to make carbon copies, without the details of the original, to show the shapes of the cut pieces. Those shapes are cut out into individual patterns as a guide to cut the glass. Another copy is used to do the lead work and soldering on. Using "flash" glass (a glass blown with two colors "flashed" together, like red on blue), Nancy cuts the glass using a steel wheel that scores (scratches) the surface of the glass to cut it. Once scored, she breaks the glass along the score line using breaking pliers and grozing pliers, which she uses to nibble at the edges if the pieces are too big. She uses a glass grinder (a wheel with diamond dust on it) to smooth edges or grind out deep curves.

At this point, the glass is sandblasted to obtain details without having to break it up into small pieces. By masking a certain area, she can sandblast through the surface to the secondary color, and achieve a two-tone pattern on a single piece of glass. Now the glass is painted using paints made with silica, so they melt to the glass surface in the fire. She mixes dry pigment form paints with different mediums, such as water or oil, and applies them with different brushes for different effects. The pieces are then laid individually on a flat kiln shelf and fired at 1270 F degrees.

Once the glass is fired and cooled, the lead framing process begins. The lead comes in an "H" channel and the glass fits into the channel on either side. The panel is leaded flat on the table and the lead is manipulated around the pieces to conform to the shapes. The lead joints are soldered to hold everything together. With the copper foil method, the pieces are wrapped around the edges with a thin copper foil, and then the copper surface is soldered on both sides. These frames are used to create lines — bold architectural lines with the lead and finer more intricate lines with the foils. She will often mix the two to get a variety of lines. She waterproofs the lead panels with linseed putty that is pushed under the channel of the lead to seal the glass and provide strength.

With a combination of bold colors and lines, and a high level of craftsmanship, Nancy Nicholson captures certain moments in time with her beautiful cityscapes. She has managed to pull people in and make them see the beauty where they may have not noticed it before.

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