by Mary Karr

Spring is finally on our doorsteps, and we artists are especially happy as we can move outdoors to paint and photograph nature unfolding around us.  Art is a staple in our lives as Irving Stone has written so well. “Like bread or wine or a warm coat in winter, man’s spirit grows hungry for art in the same way the stomach growls for food.”  This is also the time of the year for the Lake Lure Artists to gather at my house for an annual meeting in my English garden to sketch, photograph and enjoy a perfect spring day.

This past holiday I was given a truly beautiful piece of art work in the form of stained glass depicting the “Tree of Life”, and with branches stretching heavenward, the tree symbolizes eternal life.  Louis Comfort Tiffany is thought of as the master of stained glass and these words of his capture the spirit of his creations.  “The soft meadows from which the tree has its birth represents the earliest stages of life.”  The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation recognizes the Tree of Life as one of Tiffany’s most celebrated designs.

Stained glass goes back in time as it was first produced back in the 10th century when small pieces of glass were attached to one another with lead strips.  In the 15th century clear glass and glass enamels were introduced creating beautiful effects.  Most early enamels were opaque and done on a single piece of glass, but by 1650 transparent enamels were invented which allowed for stained glass to become an art of light.  Today artists use these same medieval techniques in crafting their work.  Streaking, bubbling, and striations are inherent in the process of creating fine stained glass and are common.  After the enamels are painted on the glass they are kiln-fired to become one with the glass and become permanently unchanged against fading and discoloration.  It is fascinating to watch the play of light on a piece as the sun rises and sets changing the colors at different times of the day.

The Lake Lure Artists continue to share their works at the Mountains Library and restaurants throughout the Hickory Nut Gorge and welcome anyone in the arts to attend our meetings held twice a month at 9:30 in the morning at one of our homes.