Friday, January 23, 2015

Mini Rainbow Stained Glass Church Window

Stained glass panels make wonderful gifts.  I was recently asked to create a window as a retirement gift for the organist of a local church.  After serving for 30 years, her choir and congregants wanted to have something special made for her.  In just three days' time, here is what I made for her .. Click on any photo to enlarge.

Here is the beautiful, full size window in the church.  It's breathtaking!

I worked from a photograph of the window and decided to use one area of it, below, and change the colors to reflect the colors within the large window.  The panel I'm creating is 10" wide and 13" high.

Here are samples of the glass I used for the project, which I donated to the church.   I made the panel using all Cathedral glass which I had in stock.  Cathedral is colored clear glass which lets the most light through, as opposed to opalescent glass which is denser and lets in less light.  There are many variations in between.  I chose colors which are deeply saturated to give a beautiful rainbow effect.
 Here is a computer-generated rendition of the finished window which was approved by my customer.  We made a few changes based on her requests, which is easy to do. 
 An early step in the process is the preparation of the pattern.  Below, I've taped Manila folders, edge to edge, overlaid carbon paper sheets, and then added the numbered pattern on top of that.  All three layers are then anchored to my work surface which is a wood table covered with a sheet of Homasote.  That's a fire-resistant, spongy sound proofing material which accepts push pins readily.
 After the pattern has been completely traced, I cut out the external border using regular scissors.  For the pieces themselves though, I use specialized stained glass pattern shears.  They are double bladed and cut out a small channel between each piece as shown below.  This small channel will be taken up by the thin copper foil which will follow later.
 Then the glass cutting begins.  I cut out portions of the total pattern, one color at a time.  Here I've traced the yellow pieces onto the glass with a Sharpie marker.
 Then I use an oil-filled pistol grip glass cutter at a 90 degree angle and score the glass at the edges.  Then I'll use either the black-handled groziers (on the left) to snap off the glass, or I'll use the blue running pliers if the score is longer and straight.
 After several pieces have been cut, I take them to the grinder for the edges to be smoothed out.  This makes the adhesive copper foil adhere much better, and it also makes the glass safer to handle.  Notice that I'm wearing "rubber fingers" as I handle the glass.
 Here's a piece of the streaky white glass being snapped along the score line with the running pliers.
 Here's the panel with all of the glass cut.  Notice that I've placed a "fence" or "jig" around the panel.  This serves to keep it square and prevents the pieces from shifting around as they're placed on top of the pattern.
 After all the glass is cut, I begin applying adhesive copper foil to the edges of each piece of glass.  For this project, I wanted thinner solder lines so I used 13/64" foil instead of the standard 7/32". 
 As each piece is foiled, I use a "fid" or flexible plastic wand to smooth down the edges and press it into the glass.  This prevents chemicals and liquids from seeping under the foil.
 Here's the panel with the copper foil process completed.
 Next, I apply Canfield Blu-Glass Flux to all the foil on one side, using a metal acid brush.  I work with flux out of the jar cap and dispose of any unused flux, so as not to contaminate the contents of the bottle. 
 Here I'm doing the "tack soldering".  I'm adding small dots of solder to the intersections of the glass pieces.  I'm soldering just enough to keep the pieces attached to one another.
 When the tack soldering is complete, I release the fence and slide the "cartoon" or pattern out from underneath the panel.  This is to protect it from the chemicals and cleaning solutions which will follow. Once the panel is off the cartoon, I go back and fully solder the front.  Then I turn the panel over and fully solder the back.

Here's the panel on my light box. Love the colors!
 My husband, Eric, custom makes all the metal frames and stands.  Here he's taking measurements.  After he attaches the frame around the perimeter, he put the fence back on it.  Then I solder the corners and the lead lines to the frame for stability and strength.
 Once the panel has been framed and fully soldered, I add my signature and date using an etching bit in a Dremel tool.  After the dust has been cleared from the etching, its barely visible.
 My customer requested that the piece be created with a stand, so here's Eric preparing it using poplar wood and metal fittings.
 Here's a photo of the panel, fully soldered, framed and cleaned.
 The next step is the patina process.  Here I'm using a different metal acid brush to apply Novacan Black Patina, which reacts instantly with the solder.  I coat both sides and the frame with the solution.
 After the panel is patina-ed, I clean it using Kwik-Clean Stained Glass Flux and Patina Cleaner.

 And here is the finished panel!  This was photographed with the panel against a white wall ...
 .. And here is a photo of the panel taken on a light box.  As with all stained glass, it will look different under different lighting conditions.

And here's the panel in its custom-made stand, in the sunlight which casts a beautiful reflection.

it is my hope that the organist will look at this and remember her many years of playing, as well as the thoughtful parishioners who arranged to have such a thoughtful gift created for her.  Thank you Gail and Robin for finding me!  It was a pleasure!

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, December 31, 2014

Butterfly Sun Catcher Repair

This little butterfly was a keepsake that needed repair.  Here's how I went about doing it .. (Click on any photo to enlarge for a closer look).

The butterfly wing separated as shown ..

The first step is to clean off all the old adhesive.  Below I'm using Goo Gone and a cotton ball to dissolve and clean it all off.
After the surface is clean and dry, I apply 13/64" adhesive copper foil to the top of the side of the glass and wrap it evenly on the sides of the glass as shown.  I chose this size because it appears to be the same width as was used by the artist who created it.  The goal with all repairs is to make them look like the original construction.

 Below I'm using a pink "fid" or smooth plastic wand to press the copper foil into place.

The wing which broke off still had the original copper foil and solder attached.  Here I'm using a hot soldering iron to carefully melt it off.   After its off, I cleaned and dried that side, using household spray cleaner.
 Next comes fresh copper foil ..

Then I brush on flux which enables the copper to accept the solder.  I wanted to reinforce the top and bottom of this seam, so I was careful to flux and solder only the center area.

 Note below that I've made a "V" shaped piece out of very thin gauge wire.  I've laid it on a piece of tape to hold it in place while I flux and solder it.  The idea is to solder the two pieces together, the body and the wing, and have that piece of wire serve as added reinforcement.

I've done the same to the top part of the body.  Here the "V" wire is in place, soldered from the back.  I went back and fluxed and soldered this side so that it blends in with the original solder and becomes invisible.

Here's the butterfly, almost finished, with the pieces re-joined and reinforced.

Here are the products used in the repair.  After I applied flux and solder, I cleaned the butterfly with "Kwik Clean Flux and Patina Remover" spray.  This piece had never been patina-ed but I wanted to recreate that old, tarnished look.  To do so, I mixed Novacan Black Patina, as shown below, with an equal part of water.  When I brushed it on, the black was pale enough to mimic the age of the solder.  As a final step, I applied Livia Stained Glass Finishing Compound which is a light wax.  The wax gives the butterfly a nice shine and protects the solder. 

 I straightened up the antennae a bit and here it is, ready to be enjoyed again for many years to come!

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!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Oval Stained Glass Window with Bevels

This beautiful custom window was created to match existing windows in the front door of a local home.  Here is the process ..

Here's a night-time view of the oval window which is on the side of an upstairs walk-in closet.  It faces the front of the home. The window is appx. 31" high and 19" wide.

And here's the stained glass design which is in the front door of the home.

I researched and presented several bevel options to the homeowners, and this was their choice.  A good one!  Its a nice complement to the front door.
 Here is my computer-generated design of what the finished window will look like.  Clear glass always reads as grey.

 Before starting every new project, I made a point of thoroughly cleaning off my Homasote work surface.  This is a building material used in sound-proofing.  Even the smallest left-over bead of solder or shard of glass can affect the finished project.

We had already constructed an oval window identical in size and manufacture to this one.  (See link to the other project at end of post).  Therefore, we already had a template in stock from which to follow.  Below, I've laid pieces of Manila folders side by side and taped them.  This will become my working pattern from which I trace all the glass.

Here I've covered the folders with a layer of carbon paper.

With the oval template in place, I've already made extensive measurements to locate the exact center of the oval.  After I've drawn those lines in, I centered the bevel cluster in the middle and outlined it.  This outline becomes part of the pattern.  Whenever bevels are used in any stained glass project, they must always be laid down first.  They are not re-sizeable as all other glass, so they are the "master" glass pieces. For this window, the homeowners and I collaborated and decided to use clear glue chip for the areas surrounding the center bevel, and clear rough rolled glass for the border.  Good choices!

Checking to see that the entire design has transferred onto the Manila folder.

The outer border of the pattern is cut with regular scissors.
 All internal pieces are cut with stained glass pattern shears.  These are double-bladed.  They leave a small space between the pieces which is later taken up by the copper foil.
 After all the pattern pieces are cut and organized, its time to trace them onto the glass.  Since we chose clear, textured glass for this project, the markings go on the back, or smooth side, of the glass.  This means all the pattern pieces must be laid face down.
 After the pieces are traced, I cut them with an oil-filled pistol grip glass cutter as shown, using even pressure at a 90 degree angle.  (If my left hand were not holding the camera here, I'd be pressing the ruler onto the glass for stability).
 The pieces will eventually separate after repeated tapping using the brass end of the pistol grip cutter.
 A challenge in cutting curves is being able to do so without the piece breaking into a straight line.  Here I've scored a couple of curved lines and I'm using "groziers" to pull off the glass.  Sometimes it needs to be coaxed.  It takes practice to know how much pressure each kind of glass will tolerate.
 The glass doesn't always cut perfectly.  In this case, I'm using the groziers again to nip off small pieces of glass.  This saves the grinding bit later.

Using "running pliers" to snap off a piece of straight glass.
 Glass is then brought to an electric grinder.  This serves to smooth the edges of the glass for safety and it also gives the copper foil a good surface on which to adhere.  Notice I'm wearing rubber fingers, found at Staples. 
 After I cut each piece, I run it under cool water, trying to avoid washing off the number.  Even though glass pieces may look similar in size, they generally are not.  The right piece of glass is then laid onto the paper pattern in its proper place.
 First cut piece of glass is in place.  I've also added a few push pins to the border to prevent the glass from shifting as more pieces are added.
 Now the border is cut, the push pins are in place and the center bevel is in position.  I've taped it together so that I can prepare the remaining pattern pieces without being concerned about the bevel shifting.
 Here I'm applying 7/32" wide self-adhesive copper foil to the edges of each piece of glass.  The challenge is to have the foil at mid-center of the sides.
 After each piece has been foiled, I use a "fid" or flat, flexible plastic wand to press the foil onto the glass on all sides.  This prevents chemicals from leaking under the foil and weakening the bond.

Here's the oval with the border pieces cut and foiled, and the center bevel cluster in place.

Now I've cut the right side clear glue chip glass.  I've temporarily taped together the center bevel cluster to assure that it doesn't shift while I'm making adjustments to the glue chip patterns.
 For every project, there are always a few pieces, sometimes more, which do not fit exactly in their place.  Here I'm using a fine Sharpie to draw in a thin area where glass needs to be "chipped off" using groziers.  I'll re-grind that part of the piece when done.
 And here is the oval with all of the glass cut, grinded and foiled.
 At random places within the oval, I've inserted lengths of braided copper wire as shown.  It sits between the pieces of foiled glass to add extra strength to the overall piece.
 To prepare for soldering, I'm applying Canfield Blu-Glass Liquid Flux to the copper foil using a metal acid brush.
 After fluxing, I "tack solder" the pieces together at the joints. 
 When the window has been tack soldered, I remove the border push pins and slide the paper pattern out from underneath as shown.  This protects the pattern from the chemicals which follow.
 At this point, I've fully soldered the front of the piece.  My husband Eric is attaching a bendable lead came frame to the outside for a finished look.
 Using a small soldering iron on low heat, he attached the frame to the lead lines as shown.  This gives the piece a lot of strength and stability.  The frame is attached to the window itself on both the front and the back.
 These are my "go-to" products for stained glass projects.  Kwik-Clean Flux and Patina Remover is used after the application of flux and patina, obviously, but its easy to use, particularly for larger windows such as this one.  There's no need to bring it to the sink or scrub it. And the other project is Livia Stained Glass Finishing Polish.  It protects the solder and gives the glass a nice shine.
 And here is the finished window outside in the light.  The textures of the glass can clearly be seen.  The window affords the right amount of privacy while also letting in a lot of light.
 Another view of the finished window, with the computer-generated preview on the left.
 Here's Eric, installing the window.
 And here's the result!  Thank you so much, Linda and Warren, for the opportunity to create this beautiful window for you.  It was a pleasure working with you .. We'd love to do it again.  Best of luck in college, Kelly!  Happy Holidays!

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!