STAINED GLASS PROCESS: Volsung Panel
Frequently Asked Questions
This is a stained glass adaptation of the wood carving once on the doorway of the Norway Hylstad Church. It depicts the famous moments from Sigurd Volsung's adventure of slaying Fafnir the dragon. The medallions, read bottom to top, show the forging of Sigurd's sword, Sigurd trying and breaking the sword (reforging not depicted) and finally the slaying of the dragon Fafnir. I have begun work on the second panel, which depicts the blacksmith, Regin's, betrayal of Sigurd.
Is there a way to read this story in English?
J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun was where I came into contact with both the story and the image. It is the Norse version of the Nibelungenlied, or the Nibelungenlied is the German version of the Volsung Saga. Tolkien writes the story in poetic form and like all good Norse poetry, it expects you to know the basics of the story. I had to read a summary, which I found on Wikipedia, but I really fell in love with Tolkien's verse. William Morris also wrote a version, which I have not read. You can certainly just search for Sigurd Volsung and read what you find. I probably read the post titled Sigurd. https://www.amazon.com/Legend-Sigurd-Gudr.../dp/0547394578
Do you use lead to hold the glass together?
I used a 40/60 blend. I wore a mask and had fans running whenever I soldered, with windows open.
What do you use to cut the glass?
I used a glass cutter to hand cut about 75% of this piece. Cutting is a misnomer because you are actually crushing the surface of the glass with a tiny wheel and then, with the surface tension broken, you snap the pieces, essentially breaking the glass in a desired line. I bought a glass saw toward the end, which sped up the most difficult part, the interlaced border.
Did you work from a pattern?
I worked from photographs of the wood carving, which I blew up using a photocopier. Only after finishing this piece did I discover that someone had already created a two-dimensional line drawing of the entire carving. I was always working from a grainy image and using judgement to make decisions of how to make something rounded into something flat. I also failed to keep track of the relative size of each medallion, the percentage I enlarged each one from the printouts I used. That made things difficult.
How did you decide the colors?
Choosing colors was the most satisfying part of the project, but also sometimes the trickiest. I immediately knew I wanted Sigurd in a rich blue tunic with a red helmet and shield. His yellow hair and the green dragon also just made sense to me. The style of the carving, particularly of his face, made me think of comic strip art. Like the Lewis Chessmen, he has Matt Groenig, Simpsons, eyes, which I love. I wanted that part of it bold and simple and jump out from all of the decorative bordering. The border took the longest to choose colors. I actually made many color studies of it to understand the way the pattern of the stems and flowers worked. By the end of my work, I felt I could determine a certain number of stems and wanted to use a single color to be able to identify each one. However, the composition and balance didn’t look right and I ended up using my eye to find the best balance.