Sunday, September 6, 2009

Dudley Ball - real 'stain' power!

by Robert Lalah, Assistant Editor - Features | Sunday Gleaner

As he reaches into a wooden cupboard inside his small workshop/kitchen, it's hard not to marvel at the man's dexterity. He's 83 after all, yet moves with the agility of an 18-year-old. He seems to just keep going (all day long), and exhibits signs that he's unaware of his own age.

But that's not what makes Dudley Ball stand out. The retiree is one of only a handful of locals who are experts in the art of staining glass. For those not hip to the staining scene, it's a delicate art that involves cutting different kinds of glass in various colours and fusing them all together into beautiful patterns. The best known examples of these creations are the stained glass windows at many churches across the country.

It was 18 years ago that Ball retired from years of travelling the world as a regional representative of a pharmaceutical company. He suddenly found himself with a whole lot of time on his hands and an urge to finally take seriously a hobby he has had since he was a teenager.

"I've always been somewhat artistic, but it wasn't something I was able to spend much time on. It was always in the back of my mind though," he said, wiping dust from a lamp shade he created some years ago.

Ball was standing inside his kitchen, which doubles as his workshop at his home in New Kingston. His eyes focused on his latest project, a window for a local church, as jazz musician Duke Ellington's Take it Easy blared through speakers all over the house. "The music helps me work," he said, going on to explain how he chooses the glass he works with.

"You have all different kinds. The cost will range according to the quality. For friends, I try to use the best," he said, smiling.

Ball has made close to 100 shades since he retired, each one taking a few weeks to complete. Really detailed, complex designs will take much longer.

"But, hey, I have time," he laughed.

(click on title for full story)

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