Saturday, August 6, 2011

Art Deco stained glass window pattern making

Its not the most exciting part of the process, but preparing the pattern is the most important.  Get this step right and everything after it will fit together well.  At this point, I've already re-designed and re-sized the design which was chosen by my customer.  Then I printed the pattern on multiple sheets and carefully taped them together, matching all seams exactly.  Then I traced the pattern onto taped-together, flattened manila folders using a ballpoint pen and carbon paper. (Click to enlarge any photograph).

I then cut the pattern out using special, double bladed shears which allow a small space between each piece of glass.  This is to allow room for the copper foil which will be applied later.

This window has 290 pieces of glass and will use several types and colors of glass.  Making sure that each individual pattern and glass piece has a unique number is essential.  Keeping pattern pieces organized is equally important.  After I cut each piece of the manila folder pattern, I placed them into envelopes labeled with the color and type of glass. As the glass pieces are cut, I put their individual pattern pieces into another envelope marked "cut", so that I can readily keep track.

Here's a look at the pattern pieces laying on top of the glass, during and after cutting.  I do them production-line style, cutting similar pieces at once.  Shown below is the grape rough rolled glass.  (I mark all darker colors with a silver Sharpie pen).  After each piece is cut, I grind the edges with a grinder.  (My most recent commission, an octagon window, shows this process in more detail).
Here are a few of the clear waterglass pieces, already ground and numbered in black, ready to be placed on the pattern.
Below are some of the pieces laying on the pattern.  Creating a stained glass window is very much like making a glass jigsaw puzzle. Notice that I've added a metal fence or "jig" closely around the perimeter of the pattern.  Its thumb-tacked onto the homasote board. This keeps all the glass within the confines of the pattern and assures that the window will remain "square" when it comes time for framing.  The jig will stay in place until the entire window is tack soldered later.
Here is the window as of this afternoon which shows most of the grape rough rolled and clear waterglass which has been cut.  (The clear is hard to see, click on photo to enlarge .. and not all the grape has been cut yet). I've cut approximately 80 of the 290 pieces of glass so far.  I will continue to cut glass for the next several days and will post another update when it is further along.

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