Maori Spirals

 In Glass Artwork

A multicultural celebration of art, travel & love

Tanja is a painter and her husband is an engineer. They live on the water near the harbor town of Enkhuizen in North Holland, and they recently built a new home in Amsterdam. New construction anywhere in Holland has many challenges, but new construction in the Jordaan neighborhood was almost impossible. It took years to get the permits and plans in place to build something resonant with the architectural features of this historic part of town.

They contacted me early on, asking me make something special for their new home. As the architectural plans developed the perfect space appeared, a small window approximately 24” x 24” for the master bedroom.

The theme was to be plant forms, particularly spirals and the feeling of a fern unfolding. They had recently traveled to New Zealand and been inspired by nature-based Maori art. Tanja sent me drawings she had made of Maori art to use as inspiration for my design. The colors in the master bedroom are warm reds and burgundies, so we chose an iridescent flame red glass with orange and gold undertones. “Maori Spirals” is a double-spiral showing connection and intimacy, being made up of many parts, being whole and complete and part of something bigger. The theme and energy of the design symbolically reflect the vitality of their marriage.

Maori Spirals was a joy to make, and there are many subtle sandblasted details, appearing like tattoos on the glass.

On completion it was custom-crated and I flew to Holland with it on the plane as a checked bag. Tanja met me at the airport and we went directly to her new home to install it. This is always a champagne celebratory moment, any time of the day!

Eileen and I share a special bond as we are cousins, born in the same year. We’re both artists which is very special in our family. Many years ago our grandfather built a house in Winschoten that had a stained glass window. It has been my childhood wish that if I was ever to build my own house I would want a stained glass window as well. And of course this window would be designed by Eileen, for whom the grandparents window was the start of her love for glass, light and color.


A few years ago my wish came true.


My husband and I built a house in Amsterdam and commissioned Eileen to make a special window for us. I was inspired by a trip to New Zealand and was working on paintings about Maori spirals, so that became our theme.


The Maori spiral comes from the fern and symbolizes the start of life, the growing into the world, and the continuous movement of nature. Since the window would be in our bedroom I asked her to use colors of red, to emphasize warmth and security (I think the word security is not exactly what I mean… it is more about feeling taken care of, like a small bird in a nest… in Dutch it is geborgenheid).


She made a lovely window which is not only a sparkling image to look at during the day when outside light filters through, but also at night the reflecting and sandblasted pieces are telling the story about the Maori spirals. It makes the bedroom a very special room to be in. I feel very blessed that my childhood wish had such an outcome!


– Tanja E. Algra, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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