Linda Banks at Orchid Stained Glass designs in Woking

PUBLISHED: 15:35 01 May 2013 | UPDATED: 15:35 01 May 2013

Linda Banks

Linda Banks

Archant

Creating stained glass lamps is a traditional art form that Woking-based designer, Linda Banks, has infused with her own 21st century style. Surrey Life’s interiors expert, Janet Donin, visits to find out more

What first attracted you to working in stained glass?

Each piece of glass is unique and there’s something about the way light transforms it so magically. Depending on the item, whether it’s a lampshade or a coaster, it can be made to look delicate or robust.

Describe your design style…

I think of it as Tiffany with a twist. I love the beautiful lamp shades associated with Louis Tiffany in the late 1800s, so I’ve adapted the style to give it a modern edge. My trademark is to finish my shades with an irregular edge, so they become more like works of art. For instance, the tail feathers on my peacock shade drop below the rim and are edged with wire for a softer effect.

Which piece are you most proud of?

My favourite is a black and white dome shade which I call Marbellous because it’s made using over 700 irregular-shaped pieces of glass, including hundreds of marbles. It was recently selected by the glass curator of the V&A and chair of the Contemporary Glass Society to appear in a glass exhibition at Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts house in Cumbria. That was a really proud moment.

…and your most unusual piece?

That’s easy, it’s a shade comprised of wheel and cog shapes in bright colours based on Steampunk – the sci-fi meets Victorian romantic style. It’s a bit of fun and quite different from most of my traditional designs.

Tell us about the design process…

First I work out the design to size on paper, then make patterns of all the pieces before cutting the glass to fit. Each piece is then edged with copper foil strip. It’s known as the Tiffany technique, as it is based on the method of making lamps in the famous American designer’s studio. Three soldering steps follow to construct the shade, which can be made from flat panels or moulded on a fibreglass dome. Then the solder is coated with a liquid patina to give it a bold black finish. It’s a labour intensive process but I listen to BBC Radio 4 while working, so never notice the time.

What is the most challenging part of the process?

It’s definitely the copper foil edging, especially when I’m working with marbles, which is very fiddly as you can imagine – they seem to roll everywhere.

Besides lamps what else do you design?

I have designed a range of small, decorative items like coasters and candle holders, and more recently some Victorian style terrariums all using the copper foil technique. For larger items like windows or door panels I’ll use traditional leading instead as it’s more robust. At the moment, I’m also trying out some glass fusing and etching techniques to bring texture to the glass, which is quite tricky but very satisfying.

Why call yourself Orchid Stained Glass?

I love orchids. They’re about the only plant I can grow and, while they may take time to bloom, when they do they really are exquisite, which is really the principle behind my work. It can take me around 40 hours to make a lampshade but when it’s finished and lit, I’m always delighted.

What is the best thing about living in Surrey?

Location, location, location! I live in between a small village and Woking town. The countryside is on my doorstep, so there’s plenty of natural inspiration for my work, and I can get up to London for a quick art gallery fix in no time.

Looking to the future, what are your plans?

I believe it’s so important to keep the old skills alive and pass them on to others, so I’m planning a series of workshops where clients can make their own stained glass piece and enjoy the satisfaction of creating something beautiful.

• For more information on Linda Banks work and Orchid Stained Glass, call 07974 189219 or visit her website at orchidstainedglass.co.uk. Linda is a member of Surrey Artists Open Studios, so you can see her work in her studio on Friday June 15 and Saturday June 16 and Friday June 22 and Saturday June 23

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