And here they are! Dante and Fabian are sibling purebreds and little Spencer is a rescue of indeterminate origin. I shot this photograph for the family Christmas card, and modified it for the panel.
Here is my original computer rendition. It's 15" square.
Tracing the markings from the original "cartoon" pattern onto the working pattern below.
The pattern "sandwich". A layer of file folders covered with a layer of carbon paper with the "cartoon" on top. They are push-pinned onto my work surface to prevent shifting as I trace. Behind the pattern is the glass I've selected for the project.
Here are the specialized stained glass pattern shears. They cut a thin channel between each piece to allow room for the adhesive copper foil which will follow later.
After I cut out the pieces, I group them by glass color, and set them aside in recycled junk-mail envelopes.
The patterns are then traced onto the glass.
This design has a lot of intricate pieces which I elected to cut on my electric ring saw, as shown. Its a wet saw, meaning that water flows onto the glass to prevent the saw from overheating.
For straight cuts such as these, I score the cut with a pistol grip glass cutter, then I snap it with these blue "running pliers."
Here I'm chunking out a small arc using "groziers".
Each piece of glass has to have the edges grinded. The ring saw will do this in one step. Here I'm doing a touch-up with my grinder. I'm wearing leather fingered gloves to guard against cuts.
The glass jigsaw puzzle is coming along .. I generally cut all of one color glass at a time.
Applying lip balm to the markings. This prevents the ring saw from washing them off as I cut.
I try to make good use of every bit of glass. Here I fit together five patterns onto a small space.
Now the dogs are cut and I'm about to cut the background. Notice that the border is trapped in a "jig" or "fence". This is on to assure that the glass doesn't shift while I work. Also note the photo in the upper right which I use as my guide.
Etching my name and the date onto the glass. For pet portraits, I also engrave the pets' names onto the window.
All the glass is now cut, including the background. Now I'm applying 7/32" adhesive copper foil. There are three types of foil, regular copper, black back and silver back. This refers to the inside color of the foil, which can be visible from the outside of the glass, depending on its opacity.
For this panel, I decided to use black foil on the wispy and clear glass background. I used copper back foil for the amber poodles, and silver back foil for the little white guy.
Here are the pups' eyes which I will paint later to add realism. Each one is wrapped in black back copper foil.
A little tip for fast-burnishing small pieces is to pop them into a small container, such as this 35mm film container. Then just shake them for several seconds. They will bump up against each other and voila! Burnished dogs' eyes.
The more conventional means of burnishing the copper foil is to use a "fid" or flat plastic wand, as shown. The copper foil is pressed evenly onto the sides and edges of each piece of glass.
As the foiling process continues, there are invariably some pieces which must be trimmed slightly for a good fit. Here's a piece of the background which I've marked with a series of small dots where I will grind down for a better fit.
Now all of the glass has been properly fitted and foiled.
Here I'm applying liquid flux to the copper foil, which is a catalyst to help the solder flow evenly.
This process is called "tack soldering". I'm adding small dots of solder at the intersections of the glass pieces and randomly on longer lines. This serves to lock the pieces together.
Now that the pieces are bonded, I removed the "jig" and slid out the paper "cartoon" to protect it from the chemicals which follow.
Here the front of the panel is completely soldered.
At this point, I hand the panel over to my husband Eric who custom-cuts a zinc metal frame. Here he turned the piece over and push-pinned the frame in place. Then I soldered the back (shown here), being sure to solder all the corners and also all the lead lines to the frame, for stability and strength.
At this point, I took a step back and painted the eyes with black permanent paint to represent the irises. Then I added a dot of permanent white to bring out that spark of life which makes the glass portrait realistic.
After the frame is in place and both sides are soldered, I clean the entire panel. Then I apply Novacan Black Patina with a metal acid brush, as shown.
I let the patina set for a few minutes, then I wash the excess off. After it air dries, I apply Liva Stained Glass Finishing Compound to both sides and the frame. This is a light wax which buffs to a nice shine and protects the patina.
And here's the finished window!
Here's the trio of images .. The original photograph, my computer rendition, and the finished panel.
Here are the boys, gracing the dining room window. It was a real pleasure creating this for you, George and Bob. Your reaction at seeing it was priceless!
I have two more pet dog portraits in the works .. One is in the design stage and another will follow after that. But first, I'll be getting my knee replaced. Back soon!
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