Tag Archive: Stained Glass


Glass Timelapse

Shot over 2 months, my assistants and I assemble the stained glass windows for my “Family Interrupted” project. For more info visit familyinterruptedproject.com ,ericokdeh.com,muralarts.org

a temporary mural gets an extended stay….

…while a permanent mural’s life gets cut short.
click to view thumbs

Great news this month, my temporary project “Changing Seasons, Lasting Symbols” located in the courtyard of City Hall, was set to come down after a full year, but it looks like the mural will live on into 2012. Kien Nguyen and I had planned to salvage as much of the 3200 square foot project as possible, while the rest would be scrapped or reused for future construction sites. But the good people of Urban Outfitters (who we have collaborated with in 2009) have stepped in and saved the day. Within the next week or so, our mural will be disassembled and moved down Broad Street to the Navy Yard and serve as a another construction blockade well into Spring/Summer 2012. A huge thank you to Lauren and everyone at Urban Outfitters for taking an interest in the work. I will post pics as this develops.


The bad news comes in the form of vacant lot development in Logan, right in front of my “Restoration” mural. (a.k.a. the one that took a year and a half with the 17ft high relief triangle covered in stained glass) I’m really saddened to hear this news, a lot of people had their hands in making this project possible, both behind the scenes and in workshops and classrooms. We even partnered with the school across the street, doing a mini mural with the 3rd grade while giving presentations of our mural, explaining the images and symbols, and how they relate to Logan. It kills me to think that it only lived for 3 years, but thats how it goes. Restoration is just one in a growing list of murals I’ve seen get whitewashed, torn down, or built in front of this year.

Its a good thing I documented the hell out of it… and made this interactive page.
Restoration: A Closer Look

The Grays Ferry Bottle Tree Project

I have been designing and working for the past year and half, on a project in Grays Ferry, South Philadelphia. The concept of the project was about reclaiming a space, in this case it was two corners on Marston and Etting Streets that intersect with Dickinson.

The project took a while to get off of the ground, it was difficult at first to get any community interest, our meetings were poorly attended. For the better part of 6 months we were spinning our wheels, and trying to make inroads. Enter Homer Jackson, a PEW fellow, multimedia community artist, activist, fellow Tyler Alumni, and Philadelphia resident, who introduced the concept of a bottle tree mural.


Photo by Michael Reali

A bottle tree according to Wikipedia:
is an artificial tree made of glass bottles, usually of colored glass. Associated with Hoodoo and primarily found in the Southern United States. Bottle trees have been featured as accessories in most of the prestigious flower show garden displays all over the world.

The bottles were placed on tree branches and were used to “capture evil spirits”. Our concept incorporated this idea, but we filled those bottles with writing from local students (from St Gabriel’s School), kids in placement (St Gabriel’s Hall), the Men in Graterford Prison, and people from the neighborhood.
The writing came about through workshops facilitated by Homer and Joseph P. Blake a former Inquirer Editor and freelance writer. The topics ranged from the good and bad events that make up day to day life in the area, to the concept of community.

I took these messages and hid select phrases and sentences throughout the mural design, so they become a discoverable interactive element. I also cut leaves out of cement board and embedded actual glass bottles in them to contain the messages. There are over 30 cement leaves scattered throughout the wall with these messages.

The design depicts kids in the act of stuffing the bottles with their messages and getting them tangled in the tree branches. Between the leaves are hidden images which represent some of the writing. An image of the Schuylkill River from the South St bridge recalls a time in the neighborhoods history when the writer had to swim in the River, as opposed to a local pool due to the color of his skin.

The tree itself is 700sq ft of stained glass and mirror; around 900lbs! My friends and fellow muralists Mike Reali and Delia King, and assistants Kyle Thorpe, and Charlie Patterson spent a whopping 4 months cutting and arranging the glass into leaf shapes and tree bark, in a very cold studio over the winter. We’ve taken some time lapse footage of our worktable throughout the 4 months but that is for another post.



We were able to recruit everyone who participated in the writing to paint many of the murals figures. The Students of Sr. Deborah’s art class came through in a big big way contributing two painted figures. We even held special days during the installation for kids on the block to come around and paint right on the wall.

In the end, we managed to collaborate with close to 150 residents and students who volunteered their time contributing to this work.

Final Mural Shots
click the thumbnails to enlarge


Pictures of the dedication
All photos by Michael Reali
click the thumbnails to enlarge






My Work in 2008

Here is a slide show of all my 2008 work. I could have spent hours uploading the thousands of pics I’ve taken during these projects… so I decided to leave out progress shots and workshop photos. They can be viewed on the main page. Instead, here are the final shots and details of my work last year.

To see the slide show you might need a flash plug-in, which can be downloaded here.

FINISHED!!!! (for now)

As of January 3rd I wrapped up the Mural. The final title is From Behind the Mask. It was a tough December but we all got through it, and just in time as the next two weeks saw temperatures plummet. Its insane to think that virtually none of this existed at the beginning of December. The faux brick finish and arches were in place. Thats it! We didnt even install the mosaic until the 5th or 6th.

Everything on the wall is finished except for the mask. We were able to complete the sculpture indoors, but the weather just wasnt on our side for an installation. I photoshopped the final mask photo on to the wall to give an idea of what it will look like after a spring installation. The mask will stand a foot and a half from the wall.



The Stained Glass arches at sundown. The mural looks great in the sunset’s red-orange hue.


This video captures the installation from beginning to end.

“From Behind the Mask” Mural Installation

Many thanks to my team of assistants (Katharine Clark-Gray, Charlie Patterson, Mike Reali, Khalil Brown, Koran Morris, and Terell Mclamb) who worked through the weather and helped finish a very ambitious project within such a small amount of time.

Mask and Painting Workshops

We had our final community workshop for the Bibleway mural on the14th. This time around, my assistants and I spent the week before constructing a mask that will stand a foot and a half from the wall and 7 feet in diameter. In addition to painting panels of the mural, people took part in decorating the mask with stained glass and beads .

Here are a few photos from the various workshops and paint days…


For the first day I had everyone start off by painting the most important image of the wall, the main figures face.


Katherine Clark Gray led a series of maskmaking workshops over the summer with bibleway youth. Inspired, I felt it would be appropriate to incorporate masks into the design and run with it as a theme, culminating in the class returning to work on one last HUGE mask. Here she is setting up guidelines before the workshop


Once everything is laid out glass and beads were cut and adhered to the mask.


While the mask is worked on, some people chose to stick with painting mural panels. Having the group on the mask provided this man some elbow room to add his finishing touches.


The almost finished mask. Due to weather, the mask will have to be installed during the springtime. The overall shape was broken into two pieces to make installation easier, and to get the piece in and out of the building.

My Progress so far…

Its cold out there…

I need one more good day over 50 degrees to install the rest of the mural. Everything else is just painting directly on the wall and touch-ups.

We had our final community workshop on the 14th where we painted and decorated with glass a 7 foot in diameter mask that will stand out a foot and a half in relief from the wall. Pics to follow

Heres a “Time Lapse” video of the mural’s progress

“From Behind the Mask” Mural Installation

Nothing Like the last minute…

I was fortunate to find a window of opportunity to install a 15ft x 18ft mosaic piece on the Bibleway Wall this past week, in spite of the weather getting colder by the day. I had 2 days of mild temperatures to work with, and with the help of my 5 man crew, we wrapped up just in time.

Here is a shot of the Murals design.

The design took its inspiration from a summers worth of neighborhood programs involving writing, painting, and maskmaking, and is very loosely inspired by the Paul Lawrence Dunbar poem “We Wear the Mask”. The theme revolves around healing, and the ways in which ones faith and surrounding friends and neighbors can provide support. The photos are taken from actual events over the summer, and the two main figures were summer participants who posed for me. The imagery of the waterfall in the arches appears as actual stained glass that my assistants and I spent a month cutting. The waterfall continues in paint below the bridge. The water and the idea of reflection were a way of bringing religious elements to the design without being too heavy handed. The design was a collaborative effort between my Graterford Prison Class and myself.

Now that there is a tiny bit of background on the design… here is the mosaic installed, which at the time of this photo is 90% finished. It took a month to cut in my studio, and its my most ambitious mosaic piece to date. Its comprised of about 40-50 different colors, and (in terms of total square footage) my largest stained glass piece.

This week will probably be the last bit of decent weather we have this year, and I was very lucky to get this up in time. I wasn’t particularly fond of leaving the arches blank until the springtime.

the small pic doesnt do the cuts justice, so here are a few details

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