I have been lucky enough to have been asked to be the designer/co-teacher at a community stained glass project that began at the very beginning of 2017.
It’s a wonderful, energising and exciting project funded by Brecon Beacons National Park Sustainable Development Fund. Fitting into the Year of Welsh Legends, the project is to create a large stained glass window for Myddfai Hall to reflect the legends of Wales and the surrounding area to Myddfai, Carmarthenshire. See that big semi-circular window on the second floor? Its going there
Four groups of six weeks. Two and a half hours a week. Subsidised classes teaching members of the community stained glass skills and then engaging them in the design and creation of, what is sure to be, a spectacular piece of Welsh art.
The ‘pupils’ learn the skills they need and are able to make their own glass designs as well as being part of the making of the big window.
The first six weeks we had fourteen people and they put forward their ideas they felt should be incorporated. We reviewed the Mabinogion for imagery and ideas. Some people drew others wrote down ideas, some printed off images they felt should be conveyed. With all ideas of these first fourteen I was tasked with creating an image that would translate into glass and convey all the aspects of Welsh Legend and Myddfai history the group felt pertinent. An amazing challenge and honour for me.
By week seven, the beginning of the second course, ten of the original fourteen remained, joined by another six. The cutting of the panel began alongside the teaching of the beginners and development of the ‘experienced’.. By week thirteen, which is where we are now, the beginning of the third course, everyone stayed on and we have been joined by four more.
Progress on the panel is amazing. But more than that. We have developed a community. These talented individuals generally arrive early because they are now all friends and want to meet for coffee first or start on our or their projects asap. They reluctantly pack up to leave at the end, we often run on. They stay on after to have lunch together. They’re all friends on social media… and in ‘real’ life. They communicate and meet outside the classes. They share their joys and pains; encourage each other and bring each other joy.
Plus they are all so proud (quite rightly) of their individual achievements and their involvement in this fantastic piece of art that they want to take pieces home to progress the project more quickly. They positively glow.
As one of their ‘teachers’ I find so much joy and pride in watching their joy and seeing their confidence develop. I too have new friends as a result.
The classes are a delight indeed. They’re filled with energy chatter and laughter. The pride in the projects, both individual ones and our group activity, are palpable. And, when the panels are finally installed, sometime in June 2017, they will be there as a permanent reminder of individual development, teamwork, talent, achievement and friendship. That moment , when we reveal our ‘masterpiece’ will be…… indescribable… when we get their though, i will try my best ….