Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Stained Glass Kitchen Cabinet Update

This 1970's kitchen cabinet panel was in need of an update, so this is where Boehm Stained Glass Studio stepped in.  Watch me work as I go through the process of preparing a modern yet ageless, all-clear glass replacement.  Click on any photo to enlarge.

Here's the single original cabinet door, with a floral motif.


And here a view from the inside the door.

My customer wanted an updated look without color but with enough opacity so that the spices behind the glass could not easily be seen.  I presented three different designs in different color combinations including clear.  We decided upon using a Spectrum Crystal Ice glass, which is a clear yet highly textured glass, along with dual center diamonds and border accents of clear frosted glass. 

Here is the computer rendition of the winning panel design:

Here are the specialized shears which cut a small channel between the pattern pieces.  This allows for the copper foil which will follow.

Here I'm pressing an oil-filled pistol grip cutter along the edge of a flat ruler to score the glass.  Once its scored, I tap firmly on the glass on both sides.  After a minute or so, the glass will crack in a straight line.

To conserve glass and to save time, I've traced several pieces of the frosted border, side by side.

As each piece is cut, I bring it to the grinder.  The edges of the each piece of glass must be ground to make it safe to handle and for the proper adhesion of the copper foil.

This is an older cabinet and it was not completely symmetrical, as my husband discovered when he did the measurements.  Rather than work off of the computer pattern, then, I decided to work directly from the tracing he did of the cabinet.
Here is the glass, all cut and laying on the pattern.  Notice the metal fence around the glass.  This is to keep it in place while I work.

Applying copper foil to the center of the edge of each piece of glass.  Here I'm using black backed 7/32" foil.

I use a flexible plastic wand or "fid" to press the foil onto the glass as shown.

Now the panel has been completely foiled.  It is still locked into the fence.

Then I apply liquid flux onto the copper foil directly from the bottle cap.  I discard the remains of the cap rather than risk contaminating the entire container.

The next step is "tack soldering" whereby I add a small dot of solder to the intersections of the glass.  This locks the pieces in place so I can remove the fence.

I've removed the fence and I'm sliding the pattern out from under the panel.  This will protect it from the chemicals and cleaning process which will follow.

I've fully foiled the front of the panel and now I'm spray cleaning off the flux and excess solder with "Kwik-Clean".

After a thorough cleaning, I custom cut and snapped on a thin metal frame around the entire piece. This will give the panel strength and stability.  It will also enable the homeowner to remove it if she moves, and make a window hanging from it.  When the frame has been placed onto the panel, I put the fence back around it.  Then I can solder the frame onto the lead lines and add foil and solder around the corners as shown,

The panel is now out of the fence and I'm applying black liquid patina to the solder, again from the bottle cap.  After letting the solder set for a while, I use the Kwik-Clean Spray to wash off the excess.  At this point, I've also soldered and patina-ed the reverse side of the panel.  After the patina is cleaned off, I dry it thoroughly and add a coat of thin wax.  The wax brightens the glass and protects the patina.

And here is the finished panel!  I'm looking forward to installing it, hopefully this week!  Thank you Darlene, for entrusting your panel replacement with us.  It was a pleasure creating this for you~!
Please visit my website to see my custom windows and repairs (click here).  And if you are on FaceBook, become a fan and I'll keep you up to date on all my stained glass projects.  Call me any time at 201-600-1616 or email with your questions. Thanks!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Amber and Glue Chip Glass Lamp Repair

This pretty 30 year old lamp came to me with a few cracks which I repaired.  See the process below and click on any image to enlarge.

The clear double Glue Chip is cracked in a "V" as shown, and the amber glass also sustained damage.


Another view of the cracks, from the inside of the dome.

Here I've used a pistol grip glass cutter to score and crack out the entire amber piece.  Here I'm using a metal file to grind the edges of the adjacent glass.  This helps the copper foil to adhere more firmly.  Many lamps of this era contain glass which has not been ground.  

Now I've traced the opening onto a piece of a recycled file folder. Notice the splint over the heart-shaped brown piece.  This piece also sustained a crack, but we opted to leave it in place since an exact match for this piece was not available.  It will receive a coating of strong, clear epoxy on the back when the repairs are completed.

 Tracing the pattern onto the glass with a Sharpie.  For a perfect fit, the glass is cut on the inside of the line.
As for the adhesive copper foil, 7/32" is the most commonly used width.  Instead, I've chosen to use 13/64" which is narrower and better suited as a match for the existing foil.  The "fid", or flexible plastic wand, is used to press the foil onto the glass.

 Now the border and the replacement amber glass have been foiled.  I taped the back to make sure that the replacement in soldered flush to the rest of the lamp.  I'm applying liquid flux with a metal acid brush.  I take the flux from the bottle cap to prevent contaminating the contents of the bottle.  The excess from the cap is discarded.

Now the amber piece has been replaced and I'm moving onto the double glue chip. With textured glass, it is the artist's choice whether to have the texture facing in or out.  In this case, the double glue chip glass is facing in, so I followed suit.
Here I'm scoring the piece with the pistol grip cutter.  Then I'll tap firmly on the piece with the metal end of the cutter.  This will cause the glass to shatter so that I can remove it.  I'm wearing safety glasses throughout this process.

Most of the glass will crack out on its own.  Here I'm removing more shards using needle nose pliers.

With any repair, the borders must be cleaned of all old solder, foil and adhesive.  Here I'm tugging off the old foil and solder with the needle nose pliers.  The upper foil and solder was not so easily removed, so I melted it off using the hot soldering iron.  After the old elements are removed, I clean the borders using either Goo Gone and/or a household spray cleaner.

Now the borders are cleaned and I've applied copper foil.  I've also cut a file folder template and laid it in place to assure a good fit. I've also marked which side of the glass faces which way.
 The blue tape is showing through the clear double glue chip.  Its been soldered in place on both the inside and the outside of the dome.

Applying liquid black patina to the solder with a metal acid brush. After applying the patina, I spray-wash the lamp and apply and buff a coat of stained glass finishing compound which is a light wax.  The wax protects the patina and gives the glass a nice shine.
 And here's the finished lamp, as seen from above.

 Another view.  Thank you, Gary, for the opportunity to put your lamp back in service.  Its a beauty!

Please visit my website to see my custom windows and repairs (click here).  And if you are on FaceBook, become a fan and I'll keep you up to date on all my stained glass projects.  Call me any time at 201-600-1616 or email with your questions. Thanks!



Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Stained Glass Koi Fish and Cherry Blossom Window

I designed this koi fish and cherry blossom window based on a fabric hanging owned by my customer.  I will be doing four more of these windows for her, with each one in a different orientation. 
We worked together to come up with the colors and the glass.  For the water, we chose Spectrum aqua and blue Water Glass and also wispy blue and white, which was a nice complement to it.  To provide a realistic effect, the glass colors that we chose for the fish and flower are a mix of opal, streaky, Cathedral, and granite.  The window is approximately 33" wide and 24" tall.  We sized it to exactly fit in the window.

Here's the process:  (Click on any photo to enlarge for a closer look)

Here's my "work" image .. The fabric wall hanging from which I designed the fish and the flower.



 I prepared and submitted four different designs to my customer, all in two different color schemes.  Here's the winner!

 To make the glass cutting pattern, I use a 3-layer process.  On the bottom are side-by-side file folders taped at the edges, then a layer of carbon paper, then the "cartoon" or paper pattern.



 Here I'm tracing the pattern onto the file folders below, using the color computer rendition as my guide for marking the colors.

 These stained glass pattern shears cut a small channel of paper between each pattern piece.  This allows space for the adhesive copper foil which will follow.  Shown here are several of the cut pattern pieces.

 I organize the pattern pieces by color.  They are sorted into recycled junk mail envelopes.  Here I'm tracing the patterns onto the glass using a silver Sharpie pen.  I generally cut all of one color at a time,


Using a pistol-grip oil filled glass cutter to score the glass along the line.


Tapping the metal end of the cutter onto the score line to "loosen" the glass and have it crack,


 Sometimes I'll use these "running pliers" to snap a score.
 Here's a large sheet of glass .. I wanted to fit as many pieces as I could onto it, so I jigsawed the pattern pieces together as shown.  Then I ran a score across the center.  This enabled me to get access to all the pieces which facilitates the subsequent cuts.

After each piece of glass is cut, I run it through my electric grinder.  The grinding bit is wet to reduce glass dust and keep it from overheating.  Notice that I'm wearing rubber fingers, available at any office supply store.

Some cuts can't be done by hand.  Here I'm using my Omni Gryphon electric saw to make a few difficult cuts.  This is also a wet saw.  Tip:  Cover the outlines with inexpensive lip balm so that the water does not wash the lines off.
 Now the glass for the water has been cut.
 Onto the fish!  This piece also needed to be cut by machine.  Here I'm wearing gloves to protect my fingers.
 I painted on the fishes' eyes using Pebeo 160 Vitrea glass paint.  It is dried overnight and then baked in the oven, then cooled.  Once this paint is baked on, its permanent.
 Now I'm cutting all the orange pieces.  I've traced a line of pieces along the edge of this glass.  Then I ran a score along the bottom edge.  Here I'm using the metal end of the cutter to tap on both sides of the score to loosen and then snap the glass.

Now all the glass has been cut.  After cutting, it is always necessary to spend time trimming glass so that the pieces fit well.  They should not be too tight or too loose.   Notice that the window is surrounded by a "fence" or metal frame.  This prevents the glass from shifting and keeps it "square" for the metal frame which follows later.  The fence is "nailed" to the porous work surface below it with push pins.
 Just by coincidence, I noticed that one of the glass pieces resembles a fish tail!
 And another piece resembles a fish!  Totally by chance, not planned.
 Since all of the glass has been cut, I'm now etching my name, the month and the year into the bottom right corner of the piece.  To do this neatly, I first draw guidelines with a silver Sharpie and a ruler.  I etch my name using a Dremel tool.  And yes, I hold the Dremel upside down .. Its more comfortable for my small hand.  After I wash off the guidelines, the signature is barely visible.
 Stained glass windows which are larger than 2' square should be reinforced for longevity.  For this window, I chose to insert tinned braided flat wire in between the pieces of glass as shown.  A piece of the braided wire is laying on top of the glass, and I've threaded a long length of it in between the glass.  Click on the photo to enlarge, if its not obvious. When I solder those copper foil lines, the molten metal will work its way into the braiding to create a very strong bond.  I used almost 10' of braided reinforcement in this window.

After the braiding is in place, I "tack solder" the pieces.  This means I apply liquid flux to all the copper foil.  Flux is a liquid which promotes the even flow of the solder.  Once the entire front of the window is fluxed, I go back and add a dot of solder at random intersections all over the piece.  This locks the glass in place.
 Since the glass is now tack soldered, I can safely remove the "fence" which has held all the pieces in.  Then I carefully slide out the "cartoon" or paper pattern.  This will protect it from the chemicals and cleaning processes which will follow.
 When the cartoon has been removed, then I solder the entire front of the window using 60/40 lead/tin solder.  Then I clean off the flux and excess solder with Kwik-Clean Spray as shown.
 Here's the front of the window completely soldered and cleaned.
 Now my husband Eric takes over.  He makes a custom-fit sturdy zinc metal frame for the window.
 After he installs the frame around the window, he replaces the fence so that I can do more soldering.

With the fence in place, I soldered the corners of the window.  I also added a drop of solder to the end of the lead line, attaching it to the frame on both sides.  This stabilizes and strengthens the window.  After I've soldered all four corners of the front and attached all the lead lines, I carefully release the fence and turn the window over.  Then I do the same on the opposite side.  After each soldering session, I clean it all again with Kwik-Clean Spray.  The chemicals used in this process are highly toxic. I wear a mask and use a ventilating fan and I wash my hands with a special soap which removes any traces of lead.

After the window is clean and dry, I apply Novacan Black Patina to the solder using a metal acid brush.  I take the patina from the bottle cap as shown, so as not to contaminate the bottle.  When the front is patina-ed, I turn it over the patina the back.  I use the same patina for the zinc frame.
 When the patina has set for a bit, I wash the entire window, both sides, with Kwik-Clean.
 Then I sprinkle on Livia Stained Glass Finishing Polish.  Its a light wax which protects the patina and gives the glass a nice shine.
 And here's the finished window!
 Another view with different lighting.
 And here it is, outdoors against a white fence.  I'm looking forward to having Marie see this in person!  Thank you Marie, for the opportunity of turning your new back room into a koi fish retreat .. Its going to be even more gorgeous when the other windows are completed!
Please visit my website to see my custom windows and repairs (click here).  And if you are on FaceBook, become a fan and I'll keep you up to date on all my stained glass projects.  Call me any time at 201-600-1616 or email with your questions. Thanks!