7/23/2012 9:03:00 AM The artistry of stained glass
In "The Deep," a bright orange fish plunges, joining dark blue denizens of the oceanís depths.
By Louise MacDonald Special to Kudos
A fountain of energy, effervescence and ideas, Holly Stedman stands in the middle of the studio she designed among work tables piled with tools, books and stacks of colored glass. Light pours in on all four sides, filtered, colored and reflected in a radiant kaleidoscope of bevelled edges, shapes and forms.
Twenty-five years ago while she was living in Michigan, Stedman's eye caught the light filtered through a work of stained glass. Seized with a desire to create in this medium, she took a class in Michigan. Now, after 20 years in Sedona, she claims stained glass has become "an obsession."
"I hoard glass," she says, her pale green eyes luminous. She finds Sedona a fine location for her art as many front doors and interior spaces are furnished with glass panels.
Confined once to her bed during a long illness, Holly Stedman dreamed of creating glass art. In her head she devised methods of carrying out new concepts.
"Now when I start, I know how the work will be constructed. Any problems or issues I may have, have been worked out in my head."
In "The Deep," a bright orange fish plunges, joining dark blue denizens of the ocean's depths. Over there sparkling butterflies cluster around pale flowers. Stedman has initiated a delightful series on owls and another on wronged, mistreated women around the world entitled "Caught in the Crossfire." A number of her works have won both national and regional awards.
She points to a piece she is preparing for a client in Wisconsin. Hung in a wooden stand is a double panel of glass manufactured with copper and textured solder overlay. Colorful "fractures" of glass were added while the highly textured glass was still in its molten stage at the glass foundry. With this Stedman has created the first stage of "Tranquility," a summer scene, by soldering in copper images of birds in flight, trees and a shore line. The indefatigable glass designer will produce three more such works to complete the four seasons for her client.
In her studio Holly Stedman reveals a cache of work by students in her beginners' class which amazes one with its level of proficiency. She also teaches intermediate stained glass and glass fusing.
The artist has written and published a manual of stained-glass procedures, Splendor in the Glass, in which she outlines methods used in putting together specific examples of her work.
She supplies painstakingly exact information regarding equipment, types of glass and possible embellishments. Occasionally, she fortifies the reader with reassuring, but inscrutable advice under headings like "Protecting your bevels from road rash."
About a work entitled "Into the Light," she pinpoints one color. "I wanted to create the illusion of depth and mystery. I visualized a very intense blue -- almost blue-black perimeter merging into a crystalline clearness in the center."
Again and again Stedman cajoles and encourages the reader with reassuring advice: "Let go!" she warns. "Without freedom from self-criticism, constraint, self-doubt, inhibitions or insecurities your ability to let your mental imagery flood gates open will be stifled."
Holly Stedman's works in stained glass can be seen in Sedona at the Muse Gallery (Hillside), Cocopah North Gallery, Sedona Arts Center, the Village Gallery of Local Artists and the Amara Resort. The website for her book, Splendour in the Glass is: www.redrockartspublishing.com,
Louise MacDonald is a free-lance writer living in Sedona. She has been an art reviewer in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD. She is a member of the Northern Arizona Watercolor Society and a volunteer at the Sedona Arts Center and the Sedona Area Guild of Artists.