Glass lends itself to poetic dimensions in the hands of Padma Ashok.
She is inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and Piet Mondrian as well as nature’s beauty in her crafting of an art form which goes back more than 800 years to the windows and panels of Europe’s gothic churches. Padma Ashok’s stained glass screens with their geometric imagery interrupted by the flight of birds of paradise or parakeets, her jewel-toned three-dimensional sparrows and hummingbirds and her unusual furniture forms create life style high points and moods. Art and craft merge here with a touch of poetry. Like a red and yellow Tiffany lamp shade which turns into a blaze of psychedelic colours by a beam of sunlight, a rose festooned tea light morphing into a pool of shaded pink in the sun or a Zen space created by a room divider made up different textured glasses in natural colour. With just one red stripe giving it the Mondrian touch.
“What began as a hobby learnt at a Birmingham studio has turned into passion today,” says the artist, as she deftly solders the edges of a brilliantly multicoloured cube. “I followed the Louis Comfort Tiffany technique developed in the 19th century which is versatile and lends itself to delicacy in design and the crafting of tiny pieces. The process of stained glass making is fascinating and intricate. I start with conceptualising the design for a product and drawing it to scale, after which I enlarge it on the graph paper to make changes. Then begins the intensive task of choosing glass for each part of the design, which means choosing colours, textures, etc. Once that is decided, I cut the glass pieces by hand down to each leaf, stripe or dot. The edges are ground smooth then follows the process of wrapping each glass piece with copper foil and crimping it down . The last stage is soldering on both sides. A grey-black polish completes the process.”
Streaks of colour, abstractions and geometrics, curling vines and the romance of roses define five feet high stained glass room dividers, cuboids, side tables, standing lamps and shades, light catchers, boxes, mobiles of birds and butterflies and much more.
Padma’s distinctive stained glass panels adorn many public spaces such as the Madras Medical Mission chapel, IIT’s new conference hall, the Simpson building as well as many residences.
Padma Ashok’s ‘Stained Glass Studio’ exhibition opens today at Teak Heirlooms, 20, Haddows Road, First Street, Nungambakkam. On till Sunday.