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Stained glass makes a comeback

FROM THE revered heights of ancient cathedrals, stained glass has suddenly entered the rulebooks of high-flying interior decorators. The resplendent colours have tumbled out of the closet so that even the most sobre client is urged to employ a motif-laden glass pane as a divider between the dining room and the kitchen. Architects will have you believe that the coloured glass is back in fashion. Something similar happened with Vinod Thomas, who was enamoured by the flat colours and bold outlines of this style, which was represented in his newly built house. This rubber planter from Ranni in Pathanamthitta District put his work on hold to learn the technique of his new found passion. A year-and-a-half after romancing with the medium he is back with a debut exhibition of his wares.

"I guess I've always had a latent interest in designing," says Thomas whose works will be put up at the Hotel Avenue Centre, from March 13 to 15.

On display will be 100-odd objects that range from grandfather clocks, bench sets, Tiffany lamps, mirrors, partition screens and other items of furniture. Not only do the benches have an inlay of stained glass motifs, they come accompanied with two lamps with glass shades. His process is authentic, claims Thomas. Unlike the painted glass which is passed off as stained glass and is available for the asking, there is no paint used in the original technique where coloured glass is painstakingly cut and placed into a desired pattern and finally soldered using the copper foil technique. Thereafter patina is used to darken the outline. Whereas painted glass can fade or peel off, stained glass is eternal (unless it breaks!). It is imagination and not so much drawing skill that is required, says Thomas. The patterning has to be conceptualised beforehand because once the glass is cut there is no room for innovation.

Textures in the artwork are created by the variety of glass that is available. Opaque, translucent, transparent and patterned; each have their own feel and effect when light passes through. Some of the Tiffany lamps are made up of over 600 pieces of glass set in an abstract design.

But all good things come at a price. "Stained glass which is very popular abroad is only starting to gain popularity here. There's a niche market that is looking for the original stuff and I want to tap that segment," says Thomas.


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