Somehow, the vision, so clear on paper, refused to come together in glass. I could not make up my mind which glass to use for the tree - none of the glass sheets I had seemed to be interesting enough. The tree had to really pop, and I could not come up with how to do that because I knew I wanted it to be a blooming cherry, and the colors would be subtle.
I also could not decide how to frame the tree or what to put in the background. I knew that I wanted the tree to bask in sunshine and could not come up with a concept on how to make that happen. So I just kept thinking about it on and off…
The first thing to come together was the overall composition and background. I saw an arch somewhere on the street and it hit me - I have to have an arch. And if I could make it a beveled arch, it would enhance to the "basking in sunshine" feeling, guaranteed.
I did some research on bevels available and purchased a circle, 12 inches on an inside - that gave me the dimensions of my future work. Then I went on to lay out the rest of the beveled frame according to that measurement and - surprise - I had just enough bevels in 1x2 and 1x3 sizes with none to spare. I took it as a good sign.
I decided that since no glass I had was good enough to make the cherry blooms, I would make my own glass for them. And I did just that. First, I fused some pink, white and lavender frit into clear glass to mimic the color variations of the blossoms, and then I tack-fused some clear frit on top to make it sparkle.
I cut out the blooms and then the tree trunk. I used deep purple glass with smoky white streaks for the trunk. The shape of the tree changed slightly in the process - that always happens when I transform a drawing into a pattern.
I decided to make the trunk more interesting by adding texture. I wanted to convey the unevenness and texture of tree bark. I cut out my "bark" shapes from the same purple glass and fused them onto the pieces I have already cut for the tree trunk. That really did the trick - the tree was beginning to come to life.
Once the tree was ready, I went through my stash of glass and picked a background - an ivory mottle with a slight pinkish tint. It was playing off the purple tree trunk very well. I thought I had 4 pieces of that glass when I started cutting, so I was not worried that I might run out - the fourth piece was my safety net.
When I was done cutting, I went to put a sliver that was remaining from the third piece back onto the shelf right next to the fourth piece. At that moment, I saw that that fourth piece was not a match… I only had 3 pieces of the mottle! If I knew that to begin with, I would have never picked that glass!!! However, I already had all the pieces cut, so I took it as the second good sign.
Now it was the time to decide on the outer background. What should it be - which design, what color? Inside the beveled border the tree was basking in the sunlight - serene. So I thought I wanted something turbulent outside of the beveled border. Sky, cosmos, stars…
I had just the glass for this - a textured streaky mix of blue, dark purple and white, that had great color and opacity variations. I decided to make the sky a structured abstract. I laid out 13 stars. Each star would have 3 rays coming out of it so the lines would form a grid of random 5-sided polygons. This turned out to be harder than I thought, but in the end I managed to create a well-balanced grid.
After I have finished cutting, I had to place reinforcement wire between the pieces of glass. The reinforcement wire, when soldered into the seams, would ensure that the panel wouldn't buckle and distort with time. I purchase reinforcement wire in 100-foot pieces and keep it on a spool. I never know exactly how much wire I have. I thought I had enough for this panel when I started, and I was right - just enough, there was not 1/2 inch left… so I took it as the third good sign.