As I stand on the deck of the airship, I welcome Steampunk Stained Glass Artist, Dawn Donati. With an animated wave, she hikes up her stunning gold skirt then fluidly leaps over the gap between the dock and airship.
“You’re just in time for tea.” I show her into the parlor where she eases onto the cushioned settee with the claw feet as I sink into the armchair across from her. “I can’t wait to see your unique and gorgeous Stained Glass art. So much work and thought goes into creating glass art. Please take us thorough the process. Give us an idea of the different elements, tools, skill and creativity involved.”
The engine purrs and the china teacups on the coffee table rattle as the airship begins lift off. Speaking over the noise, Dawn answers,”Choosing the texture to provoke thought and the right color to suggest emotion is where I start. I look upon all the found objects I have collected: copper tubing, brass buttons, metal findings, industrial pieces of machines, old clocks I have taken apart, anything I can solder and apply to my stained glass as a sculpture.”
I grab the armrests of my chair as the airship gains altitude. “Your art is so beautiful but I know glass is a difficult and challenging medium to work in. What drew you to the art of stained glass?”
Now that the tea cups cease rattling, Dawn leans toward the coffee table and lifting the blue willow tea pot, she pours a cup of steaming tea. “The translucency of glass, the fact that it is a liquid and solid all at the same time and the history of stained glass, the story it tells.” Dawn holds her teacup up and smiles. “A stained glass window in the morning light with your cup of tea looks different at dinner time. That is what draws me to stained glass.”
“How intriguing.” I brim my teacup full and take a dainty sip. “What are the biggest challenges in working with stained glass?”
Dawn reaches her slender fingers between the plate of sliced lemons and the spouted creamer of milk to the sugar bowl. Picking up a white cube, she plunks it into her tea “The biggest challenge working in the medium of glass is heat fractures creating three dimensional sculptures, as in boxes, can pose difficult. The end result is worth it. Quite a few of my boxes have moving parts: airship propellers that spin, gears that engage and have a function. Maintaining the integrity of the found object while making it function and remain secure is a standard I strive for when creating my art.”
I take a sip of my earl grey. “And you do that so well. Your three dimensional sculptures, your stained glass boxes, are incredible. What do you like about the box form?”
Dawn sets her cup on its saucer with a soft clink. “I like to think of my boxes as functional pieces of conversational art. Yes, some can be used as a jewelry box, however I also see them as a centerpiece on a table to spark an engaging discussion. Take the beauty and fascination of stained glass off the window and bring it into your hand.”
“How marvelous. Truly, they are not only boxes but art sculptures. They could certainly spark the premise for a story. Imagine in a fiction tale, what incredibly special object or message might they contain.” I set my cup in its saucer on the mahogany coffee table. “You must have been working with art for a long time. At what age did you realize you wanted to be an artist?”
“I have traveled all over working art fairs, helping vendors. At 14 I was gifted to see metal smithing and pottery done out in the open in the forest at week long events. I fell in love with the traveling artists and their craft.”
“It’s so wonderful to hear how childhood experinces at art and craft fairs helped shape you into this amazing artist.” I glance at the coffee table at the sound of rattling and clinking. “I see the teacups are shaking. I know what that means, the airship is landing. I have time for one last question. How did your first become interested in Steampunk?”
Dawn grasps hold of the arm of the settee, bracing for the shaky landing. “Along my travels, some of the vending I did was in Victorian reenactment. I am well versed in the clothing aspect. Steampunk was a natural progression for me. What intrigues me is the inventions, the people who create them and the stories they tell. The community, the ingenuity and historical knowledge of the artists is just delightful.
I have noticed the steampunk movement is growing I see it all over in art, clothing, movies. It’s fun to see peoples interpretation of what steampunk is. Or maybe I’m just so immersed myself such a hopeless romantic for the opulence of this movement there is no saving me.
For my next endeavor, I want to bring stained glass into steampunk as a noticed art form. How Victorian is stained glass. Take steamed powered concepts, add a splash of industrial machinery, a dash of filigree embellishment and there you have steampunk stained glass…. well that is what my minds eye would like to see. I am working on my kaleidoscope and a signature piece.”
Maeve Alpin is the author of four Steampunk/Romances: To Love A London Ghost, Conquistadors In Outer Space, As Timeless As Stone, and As Timeless As Magic.