Thursday, October 30, 2014

Leaded Stained Glass Custom Sailboat Window Collaboration

This project has been in the works for about 10 months.  I'm pleased to report that it was installed two weeks ago.  We had repaired a large Shamrock-themed stained glass window for a customer back in May of 2012.  See that project here. She was so impressed with our work, that she called me back at the end of last year and asked me to work with her to create a custom stained glass Christmas gift for her husband.  The subject was to be his beautiful racing sailboat. I realized that my studio would not be able to handle it due to the size .. 67" wide by 34" high.

Here at Boehm Stained Glass Studio, we always do what's best for our customers.  Since I knew this project was too large for us, I brought in a trusted colleague, an artist who works mainly with "leaded glass" as opposed to "copper foiled" or "Tiffany style" stained glass, which is my area of expertise.

"Leaded glass" can be found in older homes and is characterized by thick lead lines which are soldered only at the intersections.  It is the preferred technique to use for large pieces and for windows which are exposed to the weather.  My technique, "copper foiled" or "Tiffany style", is well suited to indoor residential windows of approximately 30" or less on all sides.  Both use similar clear or colored glass, but the techniques, expertise, and tools required differ greatly.

My role in this venture was to design the window and to coordinate the installation.  My collaborating artist did the entire fabrication at her studio.  It took several months between the initial design concept and the fabrication and installation, because we were waiting for renovation of the home to be completed.

Below is our working photo of my customer's 46' sailboat called "Testing Life".  It is a 1996 Tartan 4600 docked in South Jersey.  My Dad owned a 32' Albin Sport Fisher, so I'm very familiar with the boating lifestyle.  Even though our boat was a cabin cruiser, I had an immediate affinity for the family's love of boating. Our boat was the centerpiece of our Summers, as is theirs. Here are photos of the boat and the process to create a tribute to it in stained glass:  (Click on any photo to enlarge).

Below is the pentagon shaped window where the stained glass sailboat is to be installed.  Notice the peaceful view of the lagoon.

Here is the sailboat.  The family of five with their two dogs were on board.

Below is my design which includes each family member.  My customer and I had a few discussions specifying her wishes for the finished window.  The design below incorporated her vision of what the window would be.

This past August, my husband Eric and I came down the shore to visit our customers at their new home, take photos, and prepare the paper template, below.  Eric routinely prepares a paper template for any unusually-shaped window, to be sure of a perfect fit at installation time.  We then prepared three full-size copies of the pattern, the original template, all the measurements, other photos of the room, and a full-color rendition of the pattern above, to my collaborating artist.

Below, a photo of the window still on the work table.  Her studio did a beautiful job, using flashed glass to etch in the name of the boat and the numbers on the sails.  

In this closer-up view, (click to enlarge) the family members and their two dogs can be seen.  Colors for the dogs, hair color and baseball cap, was specially chosen to represent each member of the family.  The white deck and windows were painted on.  Some smaller areas were rendered in copper foil. The studio did a fantastic job of interpreting my design.

About two weeks ago, her crew headed down the shore and installed the window.  Here it is!  

Another view of the completed, installed window.  As a first-time collaboration, I'm very pleased with the results.  It was a joy to have my design interpreted so beautifully by a fellow artist.  My customers are equally pleased.  We hope they enjoy this tribute to their sailboat for many years to come!

To see more of my stained glass work, please visit my website (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.  Thanks!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Boehm Stained Glass Studio Tour

My current project is a collaboration with a fellow stained glass artist.  For several months, we've been working with my customer down the shore to design and build an approximately 6' x 3' window which depicts her husband's beautiful racing sailboat.

So while things are are relatively quiet here, I thought it might be interesting to give a tour of Boehm Stained Glass Studio, where I create custom residential stained glass windows and do repairs of windows and lamps. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at where the magic happens!  Captions are below each photo. (Click any photo to enlarge).

My husband Eric has a similar sign on his workshop door.  We spend hours down here working together.  He makes scratch-built balsa wood airplanes!  We have a habit of knocking on each other's door, to ask permission to enter.  (We look around for a moment, and then say "yes").

(Above) I keep small items on the wall in front of my glass cutting table. On the left is a re-purposed metal CD holder mounted sideways.  It holds film canisters with small bits of solder for tinning, a small container with Q-Tips for cleaning the corners of glass pieces after waxing, a small bin with scissors and pens, a large supply of various sizes of copper foil, lots of acid brushes, black and silver Sharpies, and many hooks to solder onto the backs of frames.
On the right side I keep supplies of tape, stained glass paint, Staples rubber fingers in various sizes, plastic tubing for my electric glass cutter (photo to follow), and various liquids and chemicals including cutter oil, Clarity Stained Glass Compound, copper and black Novacan patina, liquid flux, grinder water conditioner, and Goo-Gone.

(Above) This is where I generally do all the glass cutting.  On the left are gardening gloves which I use for handling sheets of glass.  In the left corner I've got my groziers, running pliers, needle-nose pliers, pattern cutters, pistol grip glass cutters, and scissors.  In the center are packages of Strongline reinforcement, braided reinforcement, 60/40 solder, a container for the Staples rubber finger protectors, and a small brush and pan to keep my work surfaces clear of glass fragments and beads of solder.  And on the right, of course, is my trusty glass grinder.  My husband installed an outlet specifically for it which turns on and off with the light switch. Also of note is my work surface which is Homasote, a sound-proofing board which is available at any Loew's or Home Depot.  It takes push pins well, is somewhat fire resistant, and has a soft, spongy surface which is ideal for cutting glass.

(Above) Here's another view of the left side of my cutting table.  It shows a plastic shoe box filled with junk mail envelopes where I store pattern pieces after projects are completed. Also visible is a breathing mask I use when I solder, and two navy blue aprons, one of which I wear whenever I'm working.  Stacked in the corner are large plastic pretzel jars which are perfect for storing solder, glass rondelles and colored pencils.  On the walls are hand-written thank you notes, notes of encouragement from my hubby, stickers removed from purchased glass, and a few old patterns for inspiration.

(Abocve) This wooden file cabinet holds a stack of clean old dish towels on top, which I use for drying and also applying finishing compound.  The towels are resting atop an informal collection of books full of supplies to purchase and patterns for inspiration.  I keep all the pattern pieces from every project, identified and in order, in Pendaflex folders.  The top drawer holds a supply of old manila folders for patterns, a package of carbon paper, and a supply of cardboard in various thicknesses.

(Above) In the mid-eighties, I was a rubberstamp artist.  For over 3 years, I wrote bi-monthly articles and had work published frequently in Rubberstampmadness Magazine under my "nom de stamp", "Miss Rubbaloid".  These custom made cabinets held my collection of nearly 5,000 rubberstamps, most of which I still have.  Now they work perfectly for glass.  Each drawer is labeled with the color of the glass for easy retrieval.

(Above) Another view of my glass storage cabinets. I keep a supply of cardboard packing material and more glass underneath the cutting table. I found the tractor chair in Target about 2 years ago.  It rolls around easily on the tile floor which I sweep frequently.

(Above and Below).  Here are two more storage areas for my glass, arranged by color.  These were home-made units which I purchased from a stained glass store which was going out of business.   They are attached back to back, with wheels on the bottom for moving when necessary.

(Above) Here's my secondary work surface where I generally build stained glass windows and repair lamps.  On the right corner is a box of jewelry findings and beads.  (I sometimes make jewelry as well, but just for myself).  Both soldering irons can be seen resting on a small brick, as well as a small flower pot which I stuff with wet paper towels to clean the tip of the soldering iron, and yet another breathing mask.  

This may just look like a stack of funky old Parisian shoe boxes .. and it is .. but the boxes contain pieces of 45-year old glass gifted to me a few months ago by a kindly older gent who was giving up his hobby.  This is the first place I check when an older lamp or window comes in for repair. The glass he's given me has been a perfect match for repairing several older pieces. 

(Above) Here's another work surface.  I use this for building windows, doing repairs, or glass cutting.  I just move my tools from place to place.  We bought this table from the inventory sale at a local Borders bookstore! My Dremel tool is here, which I use to sign my name and date to custom windows.  Also on the table are my part-time photography assistants, Phil and Philomena Foamhead .. I sometimes employ them for lighting experiments when I'm preparing for a shoot.  (Click here to see my event photography website).
On the left is a rolling colored-bin glass holder, purchased recently at Michael's.  I keep smaller pieces of antique glass here.  On top of it is a white plastic bin which holds all the hardware when we do a window installation.  The pink carpenter's bag on top was a gift from Eric, but he's the only one who uses it.  It holds everything he needs to do the installations .. Caulking gun, caulk, hammer, brush and pan, tape, cardboard, the works.
On the floor is a holder which Eric made with vertical plate holders found in the Container Store.  He nailed them to a piece of plywood, then added wheels.  Here I store larger sheets of glass that won't fit in my custom cabinet drawers.  Some antique glass is here as well.
In the laundry room is the good old utility sink where I rinse off all glass after its been grinded, and where I sometimes clean off finished windows and lamps.  I sometimes use the kitchen sink upstairs.  It depends on the size of the finished piece.

This is my electric Gryphon Omni Wire Saw Glass Cutter, used only when I have cuts that are too intricate to be done by hand.  Its very loud (I have to use earplugs) and its intimidating for that reason, but it does a great job.  99% of my work is hand-cut, though.

I always keep a good supply of 6' lengths of wood for framing, as well as zinc and brass channel.     

And that concludes our tour!  Hope you enjoyed it!  Give me a call if you have an idea for a custom residential stained glass window .. or if you have a lamp or a window that you no longer display because its cracked.  Let me fix it for you and give a new life!  Call 201-600-1616 or email me at and we'll get started right away.

To see more of my stained glass work, please visit my website (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.  Thanks!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tracking hits on my blog page .. Amazing

Celebrating my 200th post to my blog!

I'm always amazed, and very pleased, to see how many people visit my blog, worldwide. Many weeks, I have over 350 hits. Here's a map from just the time period of August 19th through September 2, 2014.  Do you see your area of the world represented?  Do you visit to learn about stained glass, or to gather ideas for your projects?  Once on my site, do you look at other entries? I'd love to hear from you!

Keep those visits coming .. Thank 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! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Stained Glass custom-design cabin cruiser

This 16" x 10" panel was commissioned by a woman in Kentucky to give to a dear uncle.  Its a rendition of his cabin cruiser which I designed from an emailed photo.  See how I created this one-of-a-kind gift!  (Click on any photo to enlarge for a closer look).

Here's my customer's photograph of her uncle's gorgeous cabin cruiser.  My dad had a cabin cruiser in the Hudson River for many years, so these boats have a special place in my heart.

Here's my computer rendition of the photograph.  I sent multiple combinations of glass choices for the sky and for the water.  My customer wanted a sunset sky.  She chose this Spectrum Mimosa Pearl glass which is comprised of yellows, oranges and some white .. It was the perfect choice to complement the Spectrum Mystic Blue water.
 Here's the pattern .. The "cartoon" or original design is on top with carbon paper in the middle and Manila folder on the bottom.  All of the markings are traced directly onto the manila folder.

Below, I've cut out the patterns for the sky and then traced them onto the Mimosa Pearl sky glass.  From there, I used my Gryphon Omni Saw to cut the top right and top left piece, as they were too complicated to cut by hand.  Notice that there's a fence or "jig" pinned around the border.  This will remain in place to keep the glass pieces from shifting as they are placed on the "cartoon."  At this point, I haven't yet cut out all the pattern pieces.  When I cut them, it will be with specialized, double-bladed stained glass pattern shears.  They leave a small space between the pieces which is taken up later by copper foil.
 Now the sky, water and hull have been cut.  There are 57 pieces of glass in this panel.

Here are the stained glass pattern shears showing that small space which they cut out.
 For the area of the cabin cruiser where the railing meets the hull, there are several pieces in a row.  Since I want the panel to look as realistic as possible, I'm cutting that area from a single piece of glass as shown.  I then traced the pieces onto the glass and cut each piece in order.  In this way, the horizontal "sunset" lines are preserved.
 A handful of cut glass ready to go down.  After each piece is cut, I grind the edge with an electric, water-fed grinder.

Here I'm tracing the pattern for the length of white glass which covers the deck.  I'm using the same process as above, cutting one larger piece and then dividing it up as the pattern indicates.

Below, all of the glass is cut.  Everything is still contained inside the "jig".

Below, I'm applying self-adhesive copper foil to the edge of the glass.  Copper foil comes with three different colors inside .. Copper, silver and black.  I used black back foil for most of the piece.  In order to get the brightest white, I used silver back foil for all of the white glass.

After each piece has been foiled, I press it onto the glass using a flexible plastic wand or "fid".

Now, all of the pieces have been foiled.

As I do with all of my custom designed stained glass panels, I signed my name, month and year.  Below is the Dremel tool and the bottom piece of glass.  The signature becomes practically invisible as soon as the glass dust is rinsed off.

 Below, I'm applying Canfield Blu-Glass Flux to the copper foil using a metal acid brush.  Flux is a very caustic substance and needs careful treatment.

 Below, I've "tack-soldered" the panel with small dots of solder at the intersections of the glass pieces and at random places.  This assures that the pieces stay together in place when I remove the "jig".

I then remove the "jig" and fully solder the front of the panel.  Then I use Kwik-Clean Stained Glass Flux and Patina Remover spray on the panel and towel dry it.

And here's the front, fully soldered.

My husband Eric has measured and custom cut a sturdy zinc frame for the panel.  Here he's attaching them for me.

Seen from the back, the panel is back in the jig and the frame is in place on the border of the panel.  I then flux the corners and spots where the lead lines meet the frame.  I solder them all to provide stability and strength to the panel. Once that's done on both sides, I wash each side again and take off the jig.

Here I'm preparing the brass hanging hooks.  The one on the left has been "tinned" meaning that I applied liquid flux to it and then dotted on a bit of solder.  The one on the right has not yet been tinned.

The back right side hook is in place.

After the panel has been spray cleaned of all the flux from soldering, I allow it to dry completely.  Then, using another metal acid brush, I apply Novacan Black Patina to all the solder lines and to the zinc frame.  I work from the bottle cap so as not to contaminate the contents of the bottle.

Here the panel has been fully patina-ed and cleaned.  Next, I'll apply Liva Stained Glass Finishing Compound.  This is a light wax which serves to protect the patina and give the panel a nice shine.  Then I'll take it outdoors to get a "real life" photo of the panel in the light. 

And here's another look at the sequence .. From photograph .. To computer rendition .. To completed panel!

Thank you for having me make this special gift for your uncle, Laura! May he remember your thoughtfulness every time he looks at it. 

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!