I recently moved to Saugatuck, Michigan and while setting up a temporary studio space, I began to unpack some of my stained glass panels. Sadly, I discovered that one of the panels was broken, snapped into two pieces.
This was a piece that I did several years ago, just as I was getting back on my feet, after a lengthy hospital stay. In a way, sad, it was part of my rehabilitation program. However, accidents do happen; the glass was broken.
Although the glass was broken, I was aware of a traditional Japanese aesthetic concept, wabi- sabi, where beauty can be found in imperfection. An object can be old, scratched, dented or in this case broken, but has its’ own inherent beauty. As I took a longer look at the piece, the broken glass retained its’ integrity. The jagged edges gave the piece a different and distinct look.
I took the glass back to the studio, filed down the jagged, broken edges, so no one, including myself, would cut their fingers on the glass. Where there was one piece, now, there are two.
Due to the pandemic shutting down many thrift and antique shops, my search for vintage objects to house and frame my stained glass mosaics was diverted to Ebay. This time, I was looking for vintage brass trays that had the markings of a past life, a history: dents, scratches, tarnish and there marks.
On Ebay, I found an oval brass tray, made in Hong Kong, that had true signs of use. It was deeply tarnished and scratched.
Cleaning the tray was a combination of elbow grease, baking powder and vinegar, a messy but effective cleaning solution. It worked. I wanted the flat base to be clean and function as a mirror; but, also, wanted to leave some of the patina on the rim, acknowledging its’ past history.
In the center of the tray, there is set of Chinese characters which I did not have a clue as to their meaning. I was saved by several people who follow me on Instagram, who graciously informed me that the characters mean Good Fortune.
After, the cleaning of the Good Fortune tray, I began to play with designs and stained glass.
The Good Fortune tray is an integral part of this stained glass mosaic. It is a contemporary piece of art yet retains its’ past history.
I discovered this tray, deeply tarnished and scratched in a local Chicago thrift store. The tray was made by the International Silver Company, a popular manufacturer of silver and silver plated objects from the 1930’s to the 1960’s. The company worked with well known designers and used movie stars such as Judy Garland, Joan Crawford and Carol Lombard to promote its’ products. The company ceased operations in 1983.
The size of the tray and the rim with the flowing scroll intrigued me. Once cleaned, I thought there was a possibility that the tray could frame and be part of a unique stained glass mosaic.
After the tray was cleaned, the change in appearance was dramatic, a nice surprise. An ugly duckling transforming into a graceful and beautiful swan. The wide floral engraving that emerged after cleaning adds another dimension to the mosaic.
The next steps, after the cleaning of the tray, was the design and selection of the glass for the mosaic.
The Rochelle name for the mosaic comes from the marking on the back of the tray.