What Else Don’t I Know?

Being English, one is – well, how shall I put it? – slightly reserved. A particular consequence of which is, it wouldn’t normally occur to me to use a place like this to mention personal matters, so to speak. After all, you’re here for hard-nosed information, right? That’s what you like about us, right? – We tell you about stained glass painting as it’s really done. All the same, someone rang this morning who wants to spend time with us in the studio, learning the fundamentals of stained glass painting. I said:

“Right, you get our newsletters, you’ve seen the blog. You know what we’re like – technique, technique, technique … none of this fancy ‘self-expression’ business.”

And then I thought:

“Is that enough? Are we maybe just a bit too Brittish? A bit too reticent?”

So to make amends let me tell you I cycled to the studio a full 30 minutes late this morning. Shocking, eh? And being late, I hit the Stanton Lacy rush hour. And I want to show you how awful and congested the Stanton Lacy rush hour is:

Rush hour at Stanton Lacy

Rush hour at Stanton Lacy – what’s it like where you are?

OK so that’s the first personal detail I want to share with you: the hectic, furious pace of life outside our studio. Onward to the second point: why was I late? And now it gets really personal. Are you ready? The reason is, my wife Charlotte took me out for a meal because I “hit” 52 yesterday – ouch! Anyway, we cycled to a marvellous pub which is perched on top of Mocktree Hill – the hill which looks down on the tiny village (originally a Roman settlement) where we live. Had a gorgeous (but simple) meal. Then cycled down. Which is where the title to this post comes in.

What else don’t I know?

See, merry though she was – or should that be: because she was merry? – my wife astonished me by displaying her possession of a skill I didn’t know she had …

My wife's a hands-free, free-wheeler ... and I never knew it!

My wife loves hands-free, free-wheeling … and I never knew it!

… going full-speed and hands-free on her bike down Mocktree Hill. Anyway, I’m not sure – was it last night’s dinner made me late this morning. Or maybe a restless night spent wondering, “What else is there I do not know?” And now to do some painting. All the best, Stephen Byrne P.S. On Friday normal services will resume with a really useful post on stained glass design. Specifically – showing your clients (whoever they are) what you must show them for them see you understand. Which is kind of important when you think about it … Do make sure you read it. It’s already written and scheduled to go live on Friday morning.

40 thoughts on “What Else Don’t I Know?

  1. Since you’re williing to be personal, may I ask a rather personal question?

    Namely, do you ever have health checks for lead poisoning?

    A friend has recently suggested to me that I may have some symptoms. I’m having a blood test to check – but then what? Wondering what you tell people about this hazard of ‘the trade’ …

    • Happy Birthday, belatedly, Stephen. Alas, I am still older than you — by only a few years, at least.
      As to Dorothy’s question regarding lead checks: yes, you should have yourself tested twice a year. It’s a simple blood test. If you are practicing good studio hygiene, your levels may be no worse than the average non-glass-studio person’s. Be sure to ventilate your work areas appropriately. Never eat or drink in the work area — and never, never smoke while working with lead. The only person I ever personally knew who had greatly elevated lead levels sneaked cigarettes at work. As soon as that was discovered, he was almost given the boot! Wash/scrub thoroughly before touching your face or anything outside the work area. And lastly, do not wear shop aprons or contaminated footwear into otherwise lead-free zones of your space. It seems like a lot of bother, but it becomes habit fairly quickly and will keep you and yours safe.

  2. Ahem … pain? Yes, I know how you feel. I just hit 59 on the 5th. Anyway, happy birthday, and keep up the great work (and an occasional personal note is a nice addition). Thanks.

  3. Hello Young Man!

    As I am over 30 years your senior may I advise you to enjoy life, complete with cows and cycling trips, as long as you can. It’s worth it!

    As to the worried person who asks what to do when lead poisoning is suspected: drink a lot of milk, take plenty of outside exercise, work in a well-ventilated room (or studio) and try to find lead-free materials to work with.

    I trust you had a pleasant birthday, Stephen.
    Kind regards,

  4. 52 and pain? Come on now. I’m turning 72 next month and still going at it. Whatever “it” happens to mean at any given time. Sometimes even attempting to paint on glass. Sort of like whatever “is” is.

    Thing is, life goes on. Do we quit and give up at some point or are there still things to do, learn, experience, and see amongst others. I think and believe that most of us will choose the latter. Hope so for all our sakes. Just think about it. If I live to be 92 and am still working, it is conceivable that Stephen and David could still be writing these wonderful insights to a marvelous and wondrous profession. Long live the art!!!

    BTW If testing for lead, the best test is from a hair sample. I have been working with leaded glass for over 35 years and never a problem. I am fastidious about cleaning up upon retiring from the work to use the restroom, eat, drink or whatever. I don’t smoke (which can be another cause of concern). The main thing here is to be thoroughly aware of the hazards and avoid them to the greatest extent possible or at least compensate for them with caution.

  5. P.S. Maybe it was my ego that got in the way so please forgive the belated birthday wish. By implication in the previous post, looking forward to another twenty years of your insights anticipates and looks forward to many more filled with the same joy you seem to have found in this last one.

    So, finally, Happy Birthday!!!

  6. Hi Stephen!

    Well, I’m impressed with you (not your wife)! I presume that to catch her going hands-free down a steep hill, you have either ovetaken her at speed, stopped and waited for her to pass you to take that photo, or you have gone hands free yourself with camera to take the photo – either way that’s impressive …


  7. Good as always to hear your news and I suspect that you will be just as busy for many years to come. After over 20 years of endless quarries, I’m really enjoying doing more paintwork, gilding and the things I really want to do. Greatly enjoyed your silver stain PDF, I never used vinegar but have now converted from water to oil.

    We don’t see many cows on the road but my wife hit a roe deer last week. Fortunately no serious damage but one of the hazards of living in the Scottish Highlands.

  8. NUMBERS…..What a concern !!!! Happy Birthday and many more numbers in your futur :-)))

    Around Manitoba (here in Canada) the concern is not the cows but the water nowadays … LOTS OF IT ALL OVER THE PLACE !!!

    Enjoy your new number Stephen 52 and all the best to you.

    P.S. Bravo to your wife for being active.

  9. It would be a sad thing to know every little detail about the one we love…adds to the mystery of life to discover new things about the person we walk this earth with, Keeps you on your toes … don’t you think ? What a beautiful part of the world you live in, no wonder your art is so inspired !

  10. After reading all the happy birthday and other comments, I will add another – be happy and creative, also laugh, love and PAINT!!

    Thank you for all the wonderful letters we all receive from your studio to mine – long may it continue! VR

  11. Have yourself a wonderful year! from Montreal with much appreciation of your updates, tips and advice.

    • Happy to see there is another person from Montréal that is enjoying your site! Happy birthday and I wish you all the best! Thank you for sharing this important spring moment with us. Thanks for all the information you transmit to all of us!

  12. Hope the days to come are filled with just as much mystery and enjoyment! Hope your day was very happy! Thank you for your dedication – and all the great tips, for all of us who love painting on glass! It is a blessing to receive your newsletters!

  13. Hey so you’re 52 now, no worry it’s not old; it more wise thinking. Happy birthday. And thanks for the tip any one joining your course should move early so to avoid rush houre in Ludlow 🙂
    All the best

  14. 52…a mere strippling of a lad. I reach the big 60 later in the year. However the plus side is that I will be retiring in Jan, but the word ‘retire’ is all relative of course. I am hoping to spend more time in my studio and catch up on the excellent advice you send out….but not sure if that is going to happen in the way I want it to.
    We live in a small village where one of the farmers has to move his cattle from one end to the other at certain times of the year along the main road…..causes great consternation among those newcomers who have bought into the rural idyl because their car wheels get mucky!!!
    A belated Happy Birthday……

  15. Hope you had a wonderful birthday, I love your Gridlock traffic jam and the smell must have been even better,,, joking aside I wish you many more great years and thank you for all your great info, tips and tricks. BTW I absolutely love cows! Have a great day.

    Erica from Ontario, Canada at the moment in Frankfurt Germany

  16. Hi Stephen

    Another belated Happy birthday wish! I really enjoyed this post, so refreshing to read and lovely to see photos of your pretty village! I live near several dairy farms, so can totally relate with the cow story, although the other night it was two porcupines that slowed me up, trotting in front of the car for the better part of the driveway, very cute!

  17. Very best wishes and happy birthday to you Stephen. Your still younger than I. Yes life can be hectic here in Devon too. We’ve had a flock of sheep amble by. Very blessed with our neighbours and the birds are singing their hearts out. Life is good. Many thanks too for the wonderful additional DVD and all your very hard work – very much appreciated – BRILLIANT!!! Life gets better and better. Kind regards as always. Pam

  18. two things: first, it is always amazing how people are afraid of getting older (myself included). I am in my 75th year and can testify that the years from 50 on are much happier and more self-fulfilling than the years before that. it is simply that one is mature enough to appreciate and enjoy whatever there is.
    second is about lead. you do not get lead poisoning from working with the metal. you may get it from the compounds, like the lead contained in paint, or, if you work like me in the tiffany technique, using solder and flux for joining the pieces of glass. these create fumes which may be poisonous. anyhow, keep your hands clean, ventilate your studio, and do not worry.
    and last, I want to add my congratulations to you, Stephen, for your 52nd birthday.

  19. Oh Stephen! THX so much for the post on the blog as I enjoyed it very much. Knowing your talents is one thing but knowing you and opening a window to you personally makes the lessons all that more enjoyable! You have become a true friend and I love the time we share on the painting, but the personal side is just the icing, so to speak!
    All the best to you and yours!

  20. Happy Birthday! Take it from someone who has ten years on you – cycling keeps you young! Cycling without hands on the bars may be a bit “young” for me, though. I loved the grid lock photo. Rush hour to the milking parlor?

  21. Happy Birthday, Stephen,

    Oh to be 52 again. It seems like a long time since I was 50’s. I can honestly say that life after 50 has been enjoyable. Kids are grown and gone to start their own family, etc.

    Anyway, back to business – I am having trouble with my first oil lump. I am trying to make a lump using turquoise oil and a few drops of clove oil. Regardless of how I mix the batch, it remains grainy (looks like fine corn meal). It is not too dry – in fact it is probably too wet. It seems like the paint is not dissolving in the oil. It will not adhere to the brush. (And I did grind the paint before mixing it with the oil.)

    I have used the same paint with water and it works fine. I am using Reusche paint “Umber Brown”. I have read Part 1 and Part 2 as well as watched the videos.

    Can you point me in a new direction?

    Thanks for all you do!

    Warmest regards,

    P.S. I received the second DVD. I have not had time to watch it yet, but I will. I am sure it will be as helpful as the first DVD.

    • Hello Mike,

      Thanks for your good wishes. And also for your question. So … the paint won’t dissolve in oil. Strange!

      First up, I’d suggest figuring out a way of testing that there’s no accidental contamination. Forgive me if you’ve already done this but I have to start with the basics. So, since paint should dissolve in oil, let’s make sure there’s nothing extra on the palette or in the brush or on the palette knive. Or even in the paint itself. Here the way is to clean everything thoroughly, then mix up a small amount and see how that goes. If it mixes fine, chances are your eaelier batch somehow got contaminated with something. If you get the same result as before, chances are it’s not contamination but something else.

      What else? Hmmmm. You mention turquoise oil and a few drops of clove oil. I confess I don’t know anything about turquoise oil. Here for our work we either use oil of Tar (which is dangerous and carcinogenic, I warn you) or oil of Lavender. For brush work, that is. (For work with nib, we’d use Lavender and Clove.) So maybe mix a little bit of paint with oil of Lavender and see how that goes. If it mixes fine, chances are it’s something in the turquoise oil. If it doesn’t mix fine … well, let’s see where this takes you!

      All the best,

  22. Steven, It is good to see your personal side . It shows us the wonderful countryside in which you live. Maybe my wife and I could come and I could attend one of your classes. Happy birthday and give my best to your wife.
    Take care,
    Kelley Mooers (Seattle Wash)

  23. I do have to confess, I have had the urge all day long to tell someone about the wonderfull autumn days we are having in Nottingham Road, South Africa. And alas, we have the same kind of traffic jams over here….

  24. Stephen, I greatly enjoy your emails and your website (although since subscribing I have not had any TIME to put your advice into practice).

    That being said – one should consider not,”What else don’t I know”, but (and forgive my American use of language here), “What else can my wife do that is TOTALLY AWESOME that I don’t know about? And what can I do to find out?” This could provide your with many more years of happy surprises…

    My best to you on your birthday!

  25. It would not be unusual for such a scene here in rural Vermont! That is why we came here from central New Jersey!
    Peep those posts coming!
    Ooops, I mean “keep”. I have 10 baby chicks here in my sunroom!

  26. Stephen,

    The oil for my first lump was given to me by a friend. I tried a test batch with lavender oil and the same powder. The result was a perfect lump (my standards). Then I talked with my friend about his oil and the truth came out. He really was not sure what the oil was. It came out of a old can that was marked “Turquoise Oil”. He further said he used in his painting. Then it turned out out his painting was not on glass but on canvas and he used the oil to clean his brushes and thin his paint. (He’d brought the oil home from work.)

    The moral to this story is never trust the label on a friend’s can and … all painting is not equal!

    I also want you to know that I really appreciate your commitment to the art of glass painting. I enjoy the time I devote to painting and especially the e-mails and DVDs. I feel like I have my best friend guiding me along each step.

    I have been through the DVDs several times, and now I use them as lessons that I watch – and then I do

    I do and do and do until I get it right (or at least until I see improvement).

    I have bound your e-mails into a 3-ring binder and I can’t wait for the next edition!

    Thanks for all you do.

    Warmest regards,

    • Hi Michael,

      Many thanks for your message and also for the anecdote about you friend’s oil: yes, it’s so important to be certain about the provenance of the materials we all use.

      For instance, we’re sometimes offered glass paint at “knock down” prices, but we never take up the offer unless we know who made it.

      That’s great you enjoy the DVDs and watch them again and again. It’s impossible to learn everything at once. Sometimes we can all of us see something 10 or 15 times and then only the next time after that will everything fall into place. I always feel the main thing with the DVDs is to see what we actually do on the palette and how we load and shape the brush: it’s those things which then allow us to get the results you see.

      You know where to find us when we can answer questions!

      As for practice: little and often is the way to do it.

      Every best wish,

  27. I am so late with my belated Happy Birthday! But better late than never. I was so busy with our graduation show that am catching up with many of your mailings only now! I just want to say what a pleasure it is to read them, thank you so much for sharing your vast knowledge and experience and for inspiring all of us!

    • Svitlana, thank you! And I hope the graduation show went well.

      All the best,

      P.S. I don’t know about “vast”. What I do know is, this on-going conversation with you and others keeps the air in the studio lovely and fresh.

Comments are closed.