The United Benefice of Sulhamstead Abbots
& Bannister with Ufton Nervet
Sulhamstead Abbots, Berkshire
RG7 4ED -
United kingdom
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The drawing is complete, and we have worked on a test panel, just to clarify one or two technical things. We are currently working through the first acid processes of some elements of the design. So we really are making some progress. It has been insufferably hot at the factory this week- but on the up side it does mean that the acid is working very efficiently!
These two images were taken just as I was getting to the last complicated corner, and once the drawing was ready to go.


The above image introducing the Great Dave Blackwell!! Dave has been working at Neros for 50 years next month. He has been incredibly generous with his knowledge and expertise and has taught me so much over the last 17 years and continues to be extremely patient with his whacky student! He is a star, couldn’t do it without him!! In this image he is rolling a thin coat of embossing black onto the glass. This is the first step in a technique called Black and Foil. Blacking coat dries completely, is then covered in a thin layer of beeswax which in turn is covered with a sheet of lead foil. This can then be cut through and sections of the glass exposed so that the acid can etch the surface. More of that anon.
Below shows the drawing- now copied onto a heavy weight tracing paper- laid out on two of the panes on top of the lead foil ready for me to draw through and begin to transfer the design.


My un-manicured hand wielding a scalpel, carefully cutting through the lead foil and lifting out a small section of tree. Once this stage is complete the exposed beeswax and blacking are carefully ‘cleared out’ (cleaned off) to reveal the glass underneath so that the acid can do it’s work.
Below Meet Ray! Ray is the Acid Shop wizard. He is the expert who deals with this fearful substance and makes it do amazing things! He has to build a wall with a mix of beeswax and tallow around the glass to retain the acid. It is absolutely imperative that there are no pin holes in this wall as any leak will attack the glass in an area where it is not needed! You can see this in the foreground. The magic Ray is in the process of rinsing one of the panels in the back-ground. Between each stage it is vital that no traces of acid remain. He is likely to repeat these steps at least 5 times at the beginning of this project as I build up textures and work different sections.


Here the tree and the words are covered with embossing black. This is drying and awaiting a coat of bees wax and a layer of lead foil. These coatings protect the surfaces and enable me to begin work on the landscape.
Below the hare and larger foreground grasses and the tree roots remain under lead and the area of the glass where the landscape will be revealed. The next step will be to clear away the blacking from the glass where the trees and fields will be gradually worked up with painted resist and acid processes


Both of these images illustrate the use of embossing black painted onto a glass surface which has already had a white acid applied. The blacking preserves the white acid whilst all other exposed areas will now have a further acid treatment which will tone them back further. When the blacking is cleaned off eventually the glass underneath it will be white. Confused? .....!
We have now used a total of 6 acid processes on the panels and are ready to begin the next stage – introducing sand blast.


The panels are all cleaned after the acid processes are complete and then re-masked ( new tape applied ). The surface is then rubbed over with a hard felt block which has a black wax applied to it. The result is a little like a brass rubbing and reveals the position of all the acid etched surfaces. The next step is to draw in anything which will be sand blasted. This image shows the hare drawn onto the mask. I have to cut everything which is going to be blasted very gently with a scalpel. These sections are lifted out a little at a time beginning with the areas which are to be most deeply blasted.
Below the hare and foreground grasses after blasting. If you look carefully at the image it is possible to see whiter areas particularly on the hip joint and the foreleg. This is where the blasting is sculpted and deeper to create a three dimensional illusion.


Above the dog roses cut and some areas lifted for the first blast. The pieces which are not yet lifted will get the second lighter blast.
Below - Completed blasting in this section. If you look closely you can see where one or two areas are sitting in front of others...the second bud in from the left at the bottom of the image is in front of the rose petal for instance. This all becomes much more apparent when the light shines through the glass. You may also be able to make out the shadow of the trees and the landscape created by the acid processes revealed by the wax rubbing.


In some areas the acid work is also cut, lifted and revealed so that I can paint on a glue resist. When this is dry it protects some areas of the acid whilst other parts are left open and can be very lightly sandblasted to add yet more texture. This is particularly useful for the tree bark, and some sections of the landscape. In this image you can see areas of the white glue not yet dried out. We wait for it to become transparent before blasting.
Below in the sandblast cabinet. The end of the gun is visible at the bottom left of the image. What you cannot see is the grit coming from the end of it under light pressure and very gently abrading the surface of the tree.


Above the wren having previously been sand blasted has now had some more features broadly added with the drill using abrasive stones and large diamond burrs.
Below - Adding the finer details with much smaller diamond burrs- this one is called a rats tail. I am gradually building up the feather texture which adds to the three-dimensional form.


The hare: working up the modelling of the bone and muscle before adding details of fur and whiskers. The modelling is achieved using large abrasive stones and sintered diamonds.
Below the artist working at a slightly awkward angle modelling the facial features of the bird.

The Barn Owl: a little further on...modelled and now with feathers added using very small diamonds called rats-tails which look like needles covered with fine diamond grit. The colour variations and shadows are made using polishers which smooth the surface of the glass to varying degrees returning the transparency to the area polished and thus creating tonal changes in the engraved surface.
Below the wild roses beginning to emerge from the hedgerow.

Sulhamstead & Ufton Nervet Parochial Church Council supports the Centenary Poppy Campaign 2014—2018