Chasing the Light

I see enormous possibilities when playing with light, which can be transmitted,
reflected, refracted, colored, iridized and more, especially architecturally or
sculpturally using it as a simple detail or within an entire wall, room or
house.  It’s extremely effective when using as much contrast as
possible, the whole light/dark, huge/tiny thing, etc., and especially potent on
an architectural scale.  Because of this, I combine vertical strips of
glass blocks, often dimensional and sometimes mixed texturally, colored or size
wise, always trying to use “as much variety as possible that is unified and
organized (path ways)”; my golden rule.  Also, try to intrigue and capture
your viewer’s attention so they want to look more; the longer you can make them
look at your work, the better they will think of it.  Grab their mind and
make them become involved.  After dark, glass block vertical strips become
strips of light from the outside, and when you’re inside viewing them, the
entire walls can explode with light, mixed with whatever level of privacy is
desired via texture or pattern.  They can be dazzling when the sun shines
through them, their brightness dependent upon the sun shining (or not) behind
them, or moving shadow patterns dependent upon the wind in the trees. 
Usually the light is constantly changing through the day, a reflection of what
is happening outside, and who can blame the light?  It’s even more
effective when supplemented with stained glass, mirrors, crisp metallic strips,
beveled glass, or colored light; make rainbows! 

I’ve realized that the most powerful aspect of my work is
the fusion of my design philosophies: I utilize a great variety of real
world materials, to envelop one in a unique, beautiful, sensible and
inspirational way.  I also like to incorporate a powerful dynamic thrust,
full of energy, fueled by light (visually or reflectively), perhaps
employing textural glass where the light moves according to the wind or
sun on the opposite side.  Textures, like all design elements, add a great
variety to lighting effects, always playing with light in as many ways
possible, while maintaining unity (the Golden Rule).  This mixture of
light, movement, reflective metal, and stained glass contrasted with wood,
masonry and other building materials inspires dynamic possibilities.  I
also like the combination of sparkling glass-work embedded in the landscape,
again “architectural jewelry”.

As jeweler/metalsmith with over 30 years of experience working with precious metals and stones, I see why I was so involved and attracted to  metal.   It’s strong, tough, precise, and it can reflect light.  However, now I’ve primarily switched to stained glass and mixed glass installations, because you can utilize large panels of vibrant, glowing light (or colored light) on a dynamic scale, as compared to jewelry.  Our house has become an evolutionary, experimental testing ground as to how to utilize light in a variety of ways.  In retrospect, I wish I could start from scratch with the same goals and visions as I have now.  With what I’ve learned, I am now longing for new projects.  I would love the challenge of designing an entirely new environment for someone with the same appreciation.

I believe my understanding as to what makes dynamic design
is superb, and when combined with my knowledge of technical benefits and
limitations of various material combinations gained from years of working with
these materials, and their cost effectiveness, along with my low maintenance
philosophy, is invaluable.  Some of my work was recently featured in
American Craft magazine and can be seen here.  If you like my work, and have a project to discuss, please contact me at: stargazer.msb@gmail.com.

- Mark Baldridge


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