Monday, September 19, 2011

Repair to Mission Style Lamp

This beautiful, classic Mission style lamp came to me for repairs after my customer's grandchildren accidentally damaged it.  The lamp had been in his family for 20 years.  Here's the damage. (Click on any photo to enlarge).
The goal of any good stained glass repair is to restore the piece to looking as close to the original as possible.  With older glass that's not always an option, but I've generally been fortunate in finding good matches.

The first step is to score and break out the broken piece of glass.  Then, using a soldering iron, melt off the surrounding solder and pull off the copper foil around the entire perimeter of the piece which was removed.  The photo below shows the broken piece removed as well as some of the foil, with a small piece of glass still attached.

Notice that I left the surrounding metal channel at the bottom, for structural stability.  If I had removed that piece, it would have compromised the strength of the entire lamp.  Also, if I had replaced that channel it would not have matched the original.  Since it was still in good condition, the better option was to leave it "as is" and work around it. 
I made a template of the 15" x 3" opening which became the pattern I used to cut a replacement piece of glass.  Though the new glass is not an exact match, it is very close in texture, opacity and color, and I was confident it would work well.

I applied new copper foil to the perimeter of the opening as well as to the new piece of glass.  In order to match the foil width that was used on the lamp originally, I chose a 3/16 size which is more narrow than the commonly used 7/32 foil.  Note again that the original metal channel at the edge of the lamp is still in place. I carefully tucked the replacement glass into that channel and fit it into the open space while the lamp was laying flat on my work surface.  I then taped the glass in place.

The photo below is the view inside the lamp laying flat, with the replacement glass taped in place and ready for soldering.
Solder is of course, molten metal, and it requires a flat surface on which to work.  I soldered the inside of the lamp when it was flat on the work bench.  But to solder the outside, I also had to make it "flat".  I carefully placed the lamp into a large box full of packing peanuts, with the outside facing up.  I soldered the outside while it was still in the box so that the solder would flow properly and I'd get good lines.
Another challenge with this repair was matching the existing patina, a beautiful bronze color.  Since there is no "bronze" color patina available for purchase, I experimented with a mix of black and copper patinas until I found the right color.

Note the small piece of clear glass above the bowl in the photo below.  I laid out a few pieces of copper foil, tinned them, and brushed on small amounts to test the color.  The best ratio was approximately 40% copper and 60% black patina. This proportion gave me just the right amount of warmth and darkness to match the existing patina on the lamp.
The repair was a success ..
My customer is happy with the results, and his grandchildren are probably relieved as well.  Call me if you have a broken copper foiled stained glass piece which needs repair. I'm happy to assist you with getting those broken pieces back out to be seen and enjoyed.  201-600-1616 or email me.

Boehm Stained Glass Studio website and FaceBook site.

1 comment: