Occasionally an artist is commissioned to create a work that advances their skills to such a degree that no project seems unreachable going forward. Such was the case with De Carter Ray’s History of Transportation, created in 2017 for C. Graham Berwind III’s residence. The original work on which the project was based was designed by Jean Dupas and constructed for the transatlantic ship the S.S. Normandie in 1935. The original took 2 years to make; Carter Ray had only eight months.
Requested as a feature for her client’s dining room wall, Carter Ray’s drawings were followed by photography, then scanning into a computer. Ropes, guns, anchors, chains, rigging and carbuncles were all carved. Longer rigging lines were carved 1/16 of an inch and filled with enamel paint. For the entire project, the artist had to work in reverse and flip the piece sideways on an easel in order to reach it. The piece was done in stages. Each panel design was carefully taken apart, foreground to background, one item at a time. All of the Van Dyke brown had to be painted first; then the hand painted flags on the sails; the birds in front of the sails; the shading on sails and mastheads; the rigging holding the masts; the long hand painted lines with brushes; the gold paint over that; and then Manetti gold leaf. Each layer had to dry eight hours minimum in order to prevent the paint from peeling and lifting later. The finer details were hand painted with a paint brush, and the rest air-brushed with an Iwita dual action micro airbrush.
Frame construction and installation presented additional learning curves. Living in an earthquake state, Carter Ray wanted to ensure the piece wouldn’t be held too tightly and break from strain. The frame needed to look lighter than air yet be supported from the bottom. She designed clips to hold the piece on top and a brass bar that could support 1100 pounds on the bottom. The art was divided into four panels, each piece 36 inches wide by 83 3/8 inches tall. The overall finished width spans 12 feet wide and almost 7 feet tall, totaling 95 square feet.
Creg Oosterhart, project designer, said “De, if you ever work for a new client, and they question your abilities, just show them a photograph of this, and say, ‘I designed and manufactured every aspect of this project- start to finish.’ It will remove all doubt.”
Carter Ray’s history includes working as a draftsperson for Hughes Aircraft in El Segundo, California, where she learned to draw landing gears and correct blueprints using a T square and a triangle. She also worked for printing companies, at one time drawing illustrations of food and woks for a book titled Madame Wu’s Art of Chinese Cooking. In combination with some of these early skills, the artist marries client inspiration with her own spectacular vision for a project resulting in stunning flat glass creations that grace homes and businesses around the globe. Self-taught, her skill set includes carved, etched, stained, leaded, painted, and mosaic glass, as well as frit painted and slumped glass, and beveled windows. She is currently experimenting with fused glass and its incorporation into her work.
States Carter Ray: “The making of art glass is my life’s work. Clients have an idea at the studio, and we bring it to fruition. It is all about process, finding the right inspiration for a particular subject. Usually, the art requested has a purpose. I will be given a space to work with, a subject matter, and the inspiration to fill it. My job is to listen. Take all the elements in to consideration, put a different spin on the ball and hand it back to them in a way that is workable, and attractive, hopefully better than what was originally conceived.”
Carter Ray established Classical Glass Studio in Huntington Beach, California, in 1983, and brings over 32 years of experience to her customer’s art glass needs.