You’ve all known reader Doug Wakeman for years. How many know that he’s a very talented artist ? (He’ll deny being one, but he is.)((He’s also a very talented home renovator. He’s shown me before and after picks of his place. The man is multi-talented.))
Doug creates stained glass. I recently interviewed him about his craft.
Are you an artist by trade or a talented amateur?
I’m an artist? No, I’m more of a craftsman. Maybe I have been paid for art one time. So, it is not my trade. Although I have tried all my life, I cannot draw or paint. Most pieces over the years have been copied from something. There may be some artistic chops in converting an image to this medium, especially photographs of people or animals, but I don’t consider myself an artist.
What was the first piece you ever attempted? Do you still have it? How does it compare to the pieces you do now?
I made something in class but I don’t remember what it was or know what became of it. That was in the mid 70’s. After learning the rudiments I made my first piece which represented my family on my parents 50th anniversary.
It has traveled around with family members but we now have it back in a window at our house. I am happier with the newer work because of the detail I am now able to exhibit. The earlier pieces were made using the lead came method (channeled lead strips to join the pieces). I found you can get much finer work using the Tiffany method (wrapping copper foil around the edges of the pieces for soldering). I still love that first piece though.
Are you self taught or did you take lessons?
I took a one-month class, meeting once weekly. I have learned much on my own in the 45 years since then. I have not been a dedicated glasser all this time. I would make something when the impulse took me but nothing regular. Maybe 15 pieces between 1975 and 2017. It is just in the last two years since I decided to do all the critters that I have been putting out a lot of work.
How long does it take to complete a piece?
The stuff I’m doing now takes about a month, working some weekday evenings after work and 10 to 16 hours over the weekend. I haven’t tried to log actual hours of work. Creating the pattern is the most time-consuming and critical part. The actual cutting, foiling and soldering takes about a week because I become maniacal about seeing what it will look like. Then framing the work takes a few days.
What’s the most difficult part?
Finding and choosing the right glass is the trickiest part. The glass looks completely different when lit from in front and from behind, so you have to consider how the colors will blend in both conditions.
It can be disappointing to do all the work to finish a piece and realize that the colors could be better.
What comes easiest to you?
I don’t know how to judge degrees of ease in this craft. All stages have their challenges but my enjoyment of the entire process makes it all easy. I guess the easiest part is consuming beers while creating.
Have you had any failures, and how do you handle that?
It looks like I will fail to get all this year’s Christmas birds done in time to mail out by Christmas. Otherwise, I can’t think of any failures as I have completed all projects that I have started. I may see mistakes and imperfections but do not consider those failures since, (1) They end up framed and hung and beautiful, and (2) no one but me sees any problems.
(Editor’s note. This interview took place before Christmas!!)
Here is Doug’s latest –>
We have some very talented people amongst us.