Michael Foster
Inklings Semester Project
Dr. Mark Hall
2 May 2002

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
An Application in Light

Background of the Work
     Growing up around my Dad's churches, I spent a lot of time looking at windows. Not through windows, as is expected with most daydreaming lads, but rather at them. The stained glass windows that spanned the wall of the sanctuaries filled the church with colored light. The carefully designed mosaic of color created various Biblical scenes, but when the light passed through, a new world was created in my mind. The images became more real, but at the same time, less real. It was like looking through a colored marble, or a piece of colored glass. I saw the same things, but slightly different.
     While studying the properties and mysteries of myth this semester, I experienced similar feelings. Myth took me to another place. George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and J.R.R. Tolkien all brokered in literary myth. Their stories became the vehicle through which life was clearer, and ultimately, more abundant. This journey changed my reality as I began to see life differently.
     My fascination with stained glass has always been with me. I always wanted to make stained glass. I felt that I had the vision necessary to make glass masterpieces. I chose this art form as my semester project because it was the only way to convey the image in my head. I have attempted to create pictures with meaning with the help of light.

The Art of Light
     The stained glass works are 8 x 10 plexi-glass panels. There are five pictures that represent four main story beats: (1) the condition of Narnia - "Narnia Discovered," (2) the evil within Narnia - "Dark Stronghold," (3) the price that was paid - "Cold Stone Alter," and (4) the redemption - "Dewy Grass." There is also a title panel introducing the series. As you view the stained glass panels, please find daylight. Their colors are best presented when seen in a full-spectrum light. A desk lamp or ceiling light is too harsh, and it can unevenly distribute light. Place the panels in a window during the day for best results.
     I will briefly explain each panel. The first panel is the most familiar to Lewis fans. It depicts the wardrobe leading into a snowy Narnia. I used a white dual tone for a three dimensional snowy hill effect. I put the lamp post just beyond the wardrobe inside Narnia. I especially liked the green trees in the distance. This panel was my first attempt so my colors were a little thick, and my lead lines were blobby.
     The next panel is of the witch's castle. I created it dark, but the hint of light coming through the doorway made it a bit inviting. I originally wanted to incorporate the witch, perhaps with Edmund and the turkish delight, but I opted for a general icon to represent the condition of evil in Narnia. I had to do this one twice. I originally forgot to remove the protective plastic film from the plastic panel. The setback was okay because it turned out better the second time.
     The third picture in the story is the crucifixion of Aslan. This is my favorite picture. Aslan is willingly lying on a stone alter with the witch celebrating over him with a knife. If you look closely, I can see some hidden symbolism. Within the chaos and horror of the scene, are three crosses behind the witch. This represents the forethought God had with His plan. The witch is a black figure with no face. She is obviously unaware of role she is playing in her own demise. I found that this panel really jumps out at me. The vibrant colors in the sky, in contrast with the warmer colors of Aslan, make a poweful statement.
     Lastly is the scene of redemption. Edmund and Aslan are walking and talking in the dewy grass. No one knows what they talked about, but like us, he is accepted back. The silhouettes of Aslan and Edmund are placed against the rising sun and amidst the green grass. The green of the grass represents new life while the rising sun represents a new day. In my opinion, this part of the book is the most profound passage found among Lewis' writings.

The Method
     To make the stained glass look, I used a liquid color base that solidifies over time. It is available at most hobby and craft stores. The leading is also a liquid base, although it contains no lead. I personally designed each panel to symbolize each important aspect of the story. The layout and color selection were important in recreating what image was in my mind.
     I first drew the pictures on a computer program and printed them onto paper. This allowed me to test color schemes before printing in black and white. With the black and white print out, I traced the picture on plastic overlays. With this line drawing, I was able to trace it onto the final plastic panel with liquid lead. When it dried, I began the coloring process. It took several days to finish just one, but I am very pleased with how they turned out.
     I hope to someday work with real stained glass. I would love to continue this story in a series in glass. I think these pictures would be great for a school or nursery. I am now inspired to continue in the medium of stained glass. The process, from what I hear, is long and involved, but well worth the effort. I can think of no greater means to capture the feel of myth except through the experience of stained glass

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