Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Dog Portrait in Stained Glass .. Two Small Poodles

Stained glass pet portraits make a special tribute to our furry friends.  I recently completed a portrait of three adorable Poodles for dear friends. When her parents saw it, they loved it and HAD to have a portrait made of their own dogs!  (Click here to see Cappi and Demi's doggie buddies Dante, Fabian and Spencer ..)
The portrait was a special gift to commemorate her Mom's birthday .. She was thrilled!

Here are the steps in creating this lovely stained glass portrait ..

Here is the computer rendition of Cappi and Demi, two little poodles.

This is the photograph from which I designed the pattern.  Since the pup on the right (Demi) is smaller, I opted to place her a bit below her larger "sister", Cappi. Notice the color of their bows which carries over into the finished window.

Here is the finished window .. Now I'll start at the beginning to show the steps ..

Here is the "pattern sandwich" .. Manila folders taped side to side on the bottom, sheets of carbon paper in the middle, then the "cartoon" or computer-generated paper pattern on top.  I drew the original pattern by carefully assessing the tones in the dogs' fur and deciding what lines were most important to retain, in order to express their little personalities.  I use push pins to secure the three layers and prevent shifting.  Then I trace all the markings, including the numbers, as shown.

I cut out the Manila pattern using stained glass pattern shears.  These are double-bladed scissors which leave a thin line of paper between each piece.  This gives room for the copper foil which will be added later.  Here I've traced two of the patterns onto the glass.  The remaining pieces are in recycled envelopes which are marked by color.  I generally cut all of one color at a time.

After I hand cut the gray background pieces, I bring them to the grinder.  This grinds down the edges of the glass pieces, making them safe to handle.  Grinding also helps the copper foil to adhere better.

Here are the aforementioned stained glass pattern shears with a quick example of the space they leave with each cut.

At this point, all pieces have been cut.  I'm continuing to trace the pattern pieces onto the glass as shown.  Some of these, I will hand cut .. Others, I will cut with a ring saw.

Here's the surface of the ring saw which streams water onto the glass to keep the blade cool.  To prevent the Sharpie markings from wearing off, I coat them with lip balm as shown.  I use the ring saw for those pieces which cannot be cut by hand.

Here are a couple of examples of complicated pieces that I cut with a ring saw.  Having the saw opens up more flexibility when I design from a photograph, as with this project.  I can freely draw any shape without concern about cutting the glass by hand.  The ring saw is capable of doing cuts that are simply not possible by hand cutting,

Back to hand cutting .. Here I'm using an "oil filled pistol grip glass cutter" to score a line along the Sharpie marks.  Also shown are the blue "running pliers" which I use for straight and almost-strait cuts .. and the metal "groziers" which I use to nip off small pieces of glass, or inside curves.

I've cut the glass for both dogs.  Now I'm back to the ring saw to cut the pieces for the background.  Our friends selected this background glass from my inventory.  It's Wissmach "Mystic Green" .. A fairly new glass and a brilliant one at that.  Great choice!  (It also comes in a brilliant blue).

Here I'm using the groziers to nip off the border.

Now all of the glass has been cut.  Notice the "jig" or "fence" that's affixed at the bottom of the window.  That will serve to hold the glass in place while I foil and solder it.  I've also embedded a row of push pins into the work surface to hold the half-circle in place while I work.

Next, I apply copper foil to each of the 60+ pieces in the window.  I'm using 7/32" copper foil.  Some of it is "black backed", some "silver backed" and some plain copper.  The inside of the copper foil will cast a soft light into the glass.  Therefore I choose an interior color which complements the glass itself.

Here I'm using a "fid" to burnish the copper onto the glass.  (This is Demi's snout!)

At this point, I use my electric Dremel tool to engrave the dogs' names .. Cappi and Demi .. Its very subtle, but it will be a permanent tribute to these beloved pets.  I also sign my name, the month, and the year, in the lower right corner.  

Now all of the pieces have been copper foiled.

Next I apply "flux" with a metal acid brush, to all of the copper foil lines.  Then I apply small dots of solder randomly, and at intersections of the glass as shown.  This is called "tack soldering".

Once the entire window has been "tack soldered", I slide out the "cartoon" to protect it from damage from the chemicals to follow.

Each stained glass window needs several cleanings throughout the process.  Here I'm cleaning off the flux using a product called "Kwik-Clean Flux and Patina Remover".

Fully soldered on the front.

Now for the border.  Since this is a half circle, I used a decorative flexible border made of brass.  It clips directly onto the curves and gives a beautiful, and functional strength to the window.

The bottom of the window receives a frame of zinc as shown, which I solder to the decorative border for stability.  After the frames are secure, I carefully turn the pattern over and solder the back.

After the piece is fully soldered, I made hooks for hanging.  Since this piece will be going out of state and we would not be doing the installation, I decided to make oval hooks.  This will give more flexibility and more attachment areas than a simple round hook would provide.  I wrapped wire around three metal acid brushes, then twisted the wire using needle nose pliers.  Then I flattened out the "legs" to fit along the decorative border.

Here's one of the two oval hooks with the "leg's soldered directly onto the decorative border.

Next, I apply black patina to the solder as shown.  I work from a bottle cap of the liquid. The patina reacts instantly with the solder.  After the solder sets for a while, I wash the entire window again.

Here's the window, still on the work surface, but fully soldered, framed and patina-ed.  Almost done ..

Whenever I do animal portraits, I pay particular attention to the eyes.  I always use a clear colored glass for the eyes.  Here I'm painting the irises on Cappi, using permanent glass paint.  

 After I've added the black irises, I add a dot of bright white paint to give the eyes that all-important spark of life.

And here is the finished window atop my light box.

And here's how it looks without being back lit.  Stained glass changes dramatically in different lighting.

And here are Cappi and Demi installed in their home!  Its such a nice tribute to these beloved pets.  I was thrilled to make this as a gift for my friends to give to her parents.  Thank you again, Georgeann and Bob for commissioning me for this gift .. and Len and Terri, may you enjoy it for many years to come!


For more information on my other projects, please click here to visit my website.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Stained Glass Spider Plant Repair

The internet is up in our new digs, so we are back! I have several projects which I'll be posting .. Stay tuned for more lamp repairs, a custom window and a presentation to a local grammar school.

For today, a little stained glass spider plant needed some attention after falling apart.

Here I'm cleaning off all the parts, to enable good bonds with the solder.

I added fresh copper foil to the parts which needed it. Here I'm using a "fid" to burnish the foil onto the glass.

I've added a drop of solder to the end of the small leaf, and a drop of solder to the center of the other four. Once I apply the hot soldering iron, they will instantly bond.

This little tool on the left is often referred to as an "extra hand". I'm using the clip to hold the newly refurbished leaf in place so that I can accurately solder it.

After repeating these steps a few times, now the little spider plant is looking new again.

For more projects, please visit my blog: Thank you! (Stay tuned ..)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Fruit Lamp Repair #8

Through the years, I feel like I've repaired more than eight fruit lamps .. I know them inside and out by now!  They've graced the kitchens and dining rooms of many homes and they bring back fond memories.  Here's a posting to document the replacement of a cracked pear and the minimization of a missing purple grape.

I gave the lamp an overall cleaning before starting my work.  Here is where the cracked green pear was once situated.  It had fallen out prior to my receiving the lamp.

The first step in replacing the glass is to remove any old solder and copper foil from the borders.  Here I'm using needle nose pliers to tug it off gently.

Next, I apply 7/32" copper foil to the borders of the pear.  Here I'm burnishing the foil onto the pear.  I also clean the area which had the old solder and foil, and I line that with fresh copper foil as well.

I apply liquid flux to the copper foil and begin melting the solder onto it, as shown below.

Now the border of the pear is fully soldered.  I also added some new wire to the border and soldered that in place, to assure the stability of the lamp.

Here's the view of the newly soldered pear from inside the lamp dome.  Its now black because I brushed black patina onto the solder.  After waiting a short time, I cleaned off the work area and then waxed and buffed it.

A single grape was missing from the opposite side of the lamp.  In every repair, I often need to make judgement calls about how much to repair and how much to modify.  My decisions are always made for the structure and longevity of the lamp itself.  As you can see below, there is a great deal of solder around each of these glass grapes.  If I tried to replace one of the grapes, I would need to melt out so much solder that the other grapes would loosen.  Therefore I opted to just melt out enough solder for a smooth line between that upper right hand grape and the white glass on the left.
To assure the stability of the lamp, I again replaced the wire that runs along the edge, on top of the copper foil which is then coated with solder.

Here I've cleaned the border and added new solder.  Then I patina-ed it and waxed it, as I did with the pear.

And here is the finished lamp!  It's now ready to create more memories.  Thank you Adela, for bringing this sentimental piece to me for repair.  It was a pleasure meeting you!
For more information on my other projects, please click here to visit my website.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Adding Hooks to Stained Glass

I've been away from my blog while I recover from my double knee replacement only 8 weeks apart.  I've returned to my studio this week .. Great to be back!  There are several projects in the works .. Stay tuned.

To add hooks to a stained glass window or panel, be sure the hooks are strong enough to support the weight of the piece. You may use purchased hooks which are specifically designed for stained glass panels. Or you may make your own, as I've done here.
First cut off a short length of wire in an appropriate gauge. Then, holding the ends together, carefully and tightly wrap it around a pencil or acid brush (shown here) or other round object which will accommodate the chain to be attached later. (February 25, 2016)

 Next, "tin" the hooks by coating them with "flux" (available in liquid or paste .. Here I'm using liquid flux). Then coat the hooks lightly with solder. This solder acts as the glue which bonds it to the frame.

 Using fine steel wool, sand off the patina in the area where the hook(s) will be affixed.
 Flux that area and lay down a thick bead of solder as shown.
 Lay the hook onto the bead of solder using needle nose pliers. Then press on the "legs" of the hook with the hot soldering iron. After a short time, the hook will melt into the solder and become encased in it. Liquid solder is very slippery. You may need to keep a firm hold with the pliers and you may need to reposition it as the solder cools.


And here is the attached hook, covered with solder. Next, using Kwik-Clean Flux & Patina Cleaner, wash off the area. Then apply patina to match the frame. Then clean again, apply wax, and buff.
For more information on my other projects, please click here to visit my website.