Thursday, March 19, 2009

Art Glass, by the Yard

This Thursday, the MHRC took delivery of a truly extraordinary piece of art glass: the nearly sixteen foot long transom for the east alcove of the Martin House living room. To be precise, the panel is 190 by 10 inches, by far the longest piece in the Martin House complex, and most likely in all of Wright's work in art glass.

The original transom panel has been lost to history, documented only in a few of the Fuermann photos of the living room. It does not readily announce itself in these images, given its location, but portions of it are visible in a few of the photos.

The transom was instrumental in creating the illusion that the living room space continued to the east through a permeable screen of art glass to the semi-enclosed, outdoor space of the veranda. The panel is composed largely of clear plate glass, with colored squares and rectangles found only at the tops of the inter-door jambs. The colored glass rectangles that align with the jambs are akin to the "pots" found along the bottom of the "Tree of Life" windows. The simplicity of the transom design as a whole is illustrated by the total pieces of glass: only 69 (versus more than 750 in a typical "Tree of Life" window).

This reproduction transom was made by Oakbrook Esser Studios of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin - the workshop that has already produced a number of exacting reproductions for the Martin House, including the large doors at the pergola / conservatory juncture and the "wisteria" doors immediately below the transom. Oakbrook Esser is the official art glass licensee of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, creating impeccable reproductions of Wright's challenging designs.

The transom will soon be installed by MHRC Lead Cabinetmaker Steve Oubre, bringing the east alcove of the living room one giant step closer to completion.

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