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A Journey through Aesthetic Realms

John Hutton and the Art of Glass Engraving

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Engraved glass is a style of decorated glass that has been around since the 1st Century AD. One of the biggest challenges in engraving is to create lifelike representations of a person’s face, because different reflections in the glass obscures the image, as the viewer moves and the lighting changes. That has not stopped many talented artists from engraving depictions of humans and our animal-people friends in objects such as drinking glasses, goblets, plates, and windows.

The New-Zealand-born artist John Hutton is a highly acclaimed Glass Engraving Artist of modern times and created a unique technique that consists of evocative depictions of religious images. Central to his artistic creations were the themes of religion, love, and peace, with a mystical leaning. His first large-scale engravings were created in 1947, consisting of a series of four panels depicting the seasons, for a restaurant area on the Cunard ship named “Caronia.”

By 1953, he had developed a new technique for glass engraving using grinding wheels on a hand-held flexible drive. In the mid-1950’s, John began working on what would be known as his chef d’oeuvre, or masterpiece, entitled “Screen of Saints and Angels” located on the Great West Entrance of the Coventry Cathedral in Coventry, England. This massive artistic endeavor, 70-feet high (21.5 meters) and 45 feet wide (18.85 meters) and includes 66 larger-than-life glass engraved figures of saints and angels, took ten years to complete.

Hutton’s final large-scale project, and only work produced in the USA, “The Spirit of Thanksgiving” for Thanksgiving Square in Dallas, Texas, was debuted in 1975. The large, engraved glass panel can be found above the entryway to the Chapel of Thanksgiving, and features a large deeply cut, three-dimensional dove surrounded with circular surface effects. In choosing a dove, John wanted to use a religious image that transcended any individual religion or denomination. The dove, John says, “is a symbol used throughout history to depict beauty, peace, hope and thanksgiving.”
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