Stained-glass windows will be students' legacy

J. Belden molded flexible copper wire around a small white piece of glass and gently smoothed it with a tiny wooden dowel.

He carried it to a massive stained-glass jigsaw puzzle being assembled in the Cumberland Road Elementary art room and carefully set it in place.It was difficult getting the corners flat and all the dust off the glass, the third-grader said."But it's cool that when you come in next year, you'll see the artwork you created."

He and his classmates recently completed a two-week residency with McCordsville stained-glass artist Rita Wrighton.

First- and second-graders made 52 decorative steppingstones that will surround the school grounds, and third- and fourth-graders made two 3-by-5-foot windows containing nearly 1,200 pieces.

The windows will be permanently displayed in the media center.

Students designed the windows on paper last month, said art teacher Denise Stevens.

"We focused on school and seasons, things that kids could come up with easily."

They sent drawings to Wrighton, who incorporated their ideas into season-themed, school-oriented pieces.

The fall-winter window features a boy raking leaves and a girl in a pink jacket. The spring-summer piece includes children, kites, swimsuits and beach towels.

A large tree in the middle of each piece transitions the seasons, from falling leaves to barren branches on one, and early buds to heavy foliage on the other.

School items are hidden in each window -- a microscope, glue bottle, computer keyboard and alphabet letters -- and geometric blue borders surround both.

Students cut the glass under Wrighton's direction, and the artist numbered pieces from one to nearly 1,200.

She assembled the giant jigsaws and distributed pieces to students for copper wrapping during class.

"Remember, I get to check each piece before you put it back in," she said during a class session last week.

Students began wrapping simple border shapes, moving to more challenging pieces as their confidence grew.

"It's not just a straight line," said Devin Chaudion, who completed the visor on the boy's red hat in the fall scene. Stevens chose stained glass as an enrichment activity to offer students a unique experience.

"Stained glass is not a medium we typically use in elementary school," she said. "They'll have something they made that will stay here."

Students completed the windows as last week's class wrapped up and made plans to solder the pieces together the next day.

Hope Jensen smoothed copper around a green bush, Merry Arpaia tackled a bright blue pants leg, and Aleah Mench finished a blue shirt.

"This is my fifth piece," Aleah said. "It's going to be really pretty."

600450 Stained-glass windows will be students' legacy
Date: 2 March 2005

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