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!


Monday, November 24, 2014

Floral Stained Glass Lamp Repair

This large, beautiful lamp was accidentally broken by a young boy.  His mother offered to have it repaired for her friend who owns the lamp.  Kathleen, Anne and I had a fun time in my studio, going through my glass inventory.  We came up with glass that was an almost-perfect match to each of the pieces that were cracked.  Here's the process.  (Click on any photo to enlarge for a closer look).

Here is a view of the side showing some of the cracked and dislocated pieces.  There were about 19 that had to be replaced.


Another view .. Each of the blue pieces of tape marks a cracked piece that needs replacement.

Here is the beautiful palette of colors that the three of us decided upon.  All were in my extensive glass inventory. This glass is "opalescent" which means it is a denser glass and gives a softer glow.  "Cathedral" glass is clear or colored and can be textured, but it is more see-through.  We did not use any Cathedral on this project.

Here are two of my tools .. The blue "running pliers" snap straight scores as shown.  Beneath that are is my oil-filled pistol grip cutter.  To make a straight score line, I press a flat ruler against the glass and run the blade portion of the cutter at a 90 degree angle along the edge of the ruler.  Then I tap repeatedly on the front and back of the glass.  It will eventually crack.  There is another tool called a "grozer" (not shown) which bites off smaller pieces of glass.

Safety first .. Lead is dangerous to work with so I always have a filtered fan running and I wear a lead-protectant 3M breathing mask.

Below, I've used needle-nose pliers to pull out the cracked glass.  I'm also pulling off the old solder and copper foil.  In order to replace glass, the borders of the old piece have to be cleaned off.


On another area of the lamp, I'm using the soldering iron to melt off old solder and foil.  Depending on the age of the lamp, this can be a time-consuming process.

After the border is cleared of old solder and foil, I use a spray cleaner on it to rub off any remaining old adhesive.  When its dry, I center 7/32" self-adhesive copper foil around the edge as shown.  Then I press the copper foil into the glass using a "fid" or flexible plastic wand.  This prevents chemicals from seeping under the foil and improves the longevity of the bond.

After the opening has been cleaned and foiled, I lay a piece of manila folder on the other side and I trace a pattern for the new glass as shown.  To assist me in deciding where on the sheet of glass I should cut for the best match, I mark the pattern "inside" or "outside", referring to its position on the lamp dome.

Here I'm grinding a piece of replacement glass.  

Using a fid to press the foil onto a replacement piece of glass.

Here the replacement glass has been foiled, as has the perimeter around it.  

Here the new piece is in place and soldered on the outside of the dome.  (See it above my name),

Here is another view of the soldered replaced piece which shows more damage needing attention at the edge of the dome.

Another piece soldered and a few more removed.  I am always careful about the sequence when doing a lamp repair.  Its important to remove the pieces in such a way as to not affect the structural integrity.  I generally work on only a couple of pieces at a time, start to finish.  Then I move on to the next area.
 Below. I'm using blue painter's tape to hold a new piece of glass in place.  Notice the new foil on the adjacent two pieces.  I've replaced the old foil there to add strength to the repairs.

Now the damaged area has several replacement pieces, done in such a way that the colors are a good match and the glass is firmly bonded.

In a few cases, I removed only half of the cracked glass and let the other half remain in place.  With a floral design such as this, this is an acceptable practice as it adds more dimension to the lamp.  Below, since I left glass behind, I'm grinding it with a metal file.  This process roughs up the glass and enables the new copper foil to adhere properly.

And the process is repeated, over and over, until the lamp is fully repaired.  Here I'm pulling off old foil and solder from another cracked piece.

And here's the opening with the border cleared.

The replacement piece ready for soldering.

When holding the light up, I noticed a couple of light leaks.  To block them, I added trimmed copper foil strips to the inside of the lamp and anchored them with solder to the existing solder lines.  The foil was then fluxed, soldered and patina-ed.

At this point in the process, all of the cracked pieces, and light leaks, have been replaced, liquid flux has been applied and each piece has been soldered and thoroughly cleaned and dried.  Here I'm applying Novacan Black Patina with a metal acid brush.  It instantly turns the solder black.  After it sets for a moment, it also gets cleaned off.

And here is an "aerial" view of the lamp, fully repaired.
 Another view of the repaired lamp, below.  Thank you Kathleen for your generosity in offering to repair Anne's lamp.  I hope she will enjoy it 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!