So, I can’t stop talking about the Bryn Athyn Cathedral…I was recently just there again, and, for the first time – inside. It would take me forever to describe all of it – the stained glass, woodworking, sand stone, monel items, etc. there is so much to see! I recommend highly you go and visit, I always get great inspirations for my creative work.
I want to show you some copper pieces I’m working on while inspired by the cathedral. Yes, they are Not monel, but somehow I find a connection. (in my next post) Also, for the first time I’m inspired to create flowers from copper – starting with a poppy of course, since I’m a Marimekko fan and I saw the most beautiful stained glass picture at the cathedral with these golden poppies that were just popping out of the window. The light was hitting that window somehow from the outside just at the moment I was there and it was mesmerizing, it looked like they were truly “golden”. I have never been a big fan of flowers in my designs, but hey, you need to experiment and see what is outside of the box. But first, more of my inspirations from my visit.
So, the most friendly guide (Gillian) explained that the detailed ornamental woodworking you see in the pulpits is truly two sided – the inside is what people don’t see, but both must be beautiful. The craftsmen made the intricate patterned carved woodworking on both sides of the piece, even if you don’t see it from the outside. We were encouraged to touch it from the inside and yes, it truly is two sided.
The most breathtaking in this cathedral (in my opinion) is the stained glass work. There are so many of them and the techniques are incredible, the colors are so vivid and they took forever to finish. AT the front of the cathedral the mesmerizing purple light is created by both red and blue colors coming from the windows and you can truly see as if there is a purple haze inside (yes, I just mean the color). You could read a lot about how time was spent learning to make this then forgotten technique to create these colors, some of them are still secrets. Even just the blue alone is incredible to look at.
The walls are sand stone, the warmness it creates is quite wonderful. The color is like you are on the beach – warm, a bit beige and peach and varied with swirly patterns. Very beautiful, you just want to touch it. It gives the inside of the cathedral this all around warmness that you can’t really explain.
And yes, they just had put in the new organ! And there was a person practicing!…this was so wonderful for me. I’m a big fan of organs, long time ago I used to play one at my home church back in Finland. I used to be the church guide during the summers while in high school and I just loved to play the organ. (Thanks to the years of piano lessons I could read the music. I’m no Chopin, just your regular home town piano player.) The sound of this organ was so beautiful, I personally could just sit there for hours and just listen and stare at the purple haze.
Before leaving the tour we were able to look inside the “key box”. These keys to the cathedral doors are all handmade monel keys, carefully crafted and designed. And, I got to hold one!
You can probably tell how much it means to me to visit here. My husband took me to the cathedral grounds when we first met, and we used to visit and walk there often while we lived in Philadelphia. It has always been a very special place for me. I warmly recommend the experience, you will not be disappointed (and they are not even paying me)!
More about stained glass creation at the Cathedral
(from book “Bryn Athyn Historic District” by Ed Gyllenhaal, Kirsten Hansen Gyllenhaal)