Thursday, November 29, 2012

Geometric beveled stained glass window - Done!

I had some issues with a photo media card so this posting is delayed, but I actually finished the window several days ago.  Here are the steps to finish this beauty!  (Click on any photo to enlarge for a closer look). 
In the last post, the entire window had been copper foiled.  Below I'm brushing liquid flux onto the copper foil to prepare it for soldering.  Don't brush on too much flux or the solder will sputter and bubble.  Also, use care that this caustic chemical does not get on your hands.
Here I'm doing what's called "tack soldering".  I'm applying a bead of solder just to the joints and in random spots along longer lines. Notice that the metal fence or "jig" is in place to make sure the glass does not shift, an essential precaution.
Below, the front has been tack soldered and I've removed the jig.  Here I'm sliding out the "cartoon" or pattern from under the window.
Here I'm soldering the front of the window while wearing a lead-protecting breathing mask.
This is the brand I use, a Sperian P100 Respirator for Lead Removal, a specialized mask which can be found in many hardware stores.  They're about $15 each.  For safety, always wear one when working with solder which contains lead in any amount.  I use 60/40 solder, lead/tin.
After the window has been completely soldered on the front, carefully turn it over, brush on the flux, and solder the back.  Here it is at this point ..

The window is not sturdy enough to bring to the sink for a full wash, so, using a damp towel, I clean off as much flux as possible.  Below, my husband Eric has custom-cut a heavy metal channel frame for the window, which has mitered corners.  He put the fence back on to hold the frame in place for soldering.
I've soldered each of the corners on the front of the piece.  For more strength, I solder the lead lines to the frame but only on the back of the piece, where it can't be seen.  It makes for a nicer look to the front of the window.
Here I'm washing the window in the sink, using powdered cleanser and an old dish brush.  I'm wearing rubber gloves to protect my hands from any leftover flux and to keep a firm grip on the window.
After the window is completely dry, its time for patina.  This window will have bronze patina which is not available .. It has to be custom-mixed.  Below are the products I use, Novacan brand "Black" and "Copper Black" liquid patina.  I mix both together by the capful into a glass bowl.  To get a bronze color, you'll have to experiment.  I use approximately a 1:3 ratio of black to copper.  Use test strips to get the desired color.  Cut small pieces of copper foil, stick them onto a small piece of glass, tin them and try the mix.  Keep going until you find a good "recipe".
When using a mixed patina such as this, I start brushing it on on the back of the piece first to get another look at it, then I patina the front of the window.  The metal frame, which is zinc, won't accept the patina as "bronze" but will appear black instead.  This is an acceptable variation which will not interfere with the beauty of the finished window.
After the patina has been brushed on, I bring the window back to the sink for a quick rinse with cold water and a light brushing.  When the window is completely dry, I waxed it using Clarity Stained Glass Finishing Compound. Below is the computer rendition ...
And here it is!  The big reveal!  My customer hasn't seen it "live and in person" so I look forward to her reaction to seeing her vision come to life.  It was a pleasure collaborating with her to decide the design and the color scheme and choice of glass.  Another fun project!  Thank you Jessica!  Merry Christmas to you and Steven!

So happy to receive this lovely note ..
What can I say but thank you!  The stained glass was a tremendous surprise for my husband this Christmas.  He had often commented how he wanted a stained class window but had never made the effort to find one.  He was was completely confused when he tore off the wrapping paper to reveal the wooden box that Eric so creatively designed.  Once Steven opened the box and it registered what treasure was inside, I could see his whole face change.  He had no idea what was waiting for him.  He immediately began to admire the stained glass and ask all kinds of questions about where it came from.  It was so fun to explain our secret meetings and emails designing the piece that was being created especially for him.  He was really touched and immediately said, "I want to meet her."  It was thrilling for me to have successfully surprised him with a unique one of a kind gift.  This was only possible due to your talent and willingness to create exactly what our space needed.  Now that the window is up, you couldn't imagine the space without it.  You really looked at the style of our home and our existing stained glass windows when you came for the consultation.  Your suggestions guided my choices and I couldn't be happier with the result.  The stained glass looks as if it were originally supposed to be there.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!! 

There's still a little time left for me to make a Christmas gift for someone on your list .. Call soon and we'll make it happen!  201-600-1616. 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, November 20, 2012

Geometric beveled stained glass window - Copper foiled

The window is moving along nicely!  The entire window has now been copper foiled. Click on any photo to enlarge ..

For this window, I chose the most popular width of copper foil, 7/32".  There are six widths from which to choose, but this size works for almost all projects.  The foil comes in a roll as pictured below and is self-adhesive.  Just peel back the paper backing in small lengths .. it tangles easily.

 Why am I using "black back" foil instead of the regular foil which is copper on the other side?  In the photo below, you can see the black foil showing through the clear glass.  Once the window is soldered, the black will practically disappear.  Regular copper foil (not black back) is perfectly fine for an opalescent (non-Cathedral "see through") glass.  As soon as clear glass, wispy glass, or bevels are introduced into a design, black back becomes the foil of choice.  (Silver back foil is also available if the solder will be left silver, without patina).
Applying the foil takes a lot of dexterity.  Here I'm holding the glass and peeling off the foil with my left hand and holding my camera in my right!  Notice that the foil is applied dead center to the edge of the glass.
 Sharp scissors are a must to cut the foil as well as a razor knife to trim any overlaps.  After the foil is applied, a "fid", or flat, flexible plastic wand, as shown below, is used to press the foil onto the glass.  Be sure to use new foil.  Its important that it adheres firmly to the glass.

Foiling is completed one piece of glass at a time.  As each piece is removed from the pattern and foiled, it gets replaced back in.  The fit of the pieces is important .. Not too tight and not too loose.  At several points during this process, I brought individual pieces back to the grinder to give them a little more "breathing room."
 In order to strengthen the piece and keep the straight lines straight through the colors, I've inserted braided wire invisible reinforcement as shown below.  (Click on photo to enlarge).  I've also added braided wire at the intersecting corners, to interrupt those straight lines or "hinges" that travel from one side of the window to the other.  These lines could buckle over time but the reinforcement wire will prevent that.  You'll also notice that I changed the pattern slightly from the original which had many lines that go from one side to the other.  I did this intentionally to further strengthen the piece.

 And here is the window with copper foil applied.
The next step is the soldering and application of patina.  My customer has chosen bronze patina, which will be a wonderful compliment to the these colors.  Next posting, I'll show how to custom mix bronze patina using black and copper patina as a base.

Thanksgiving is almost upon us!  I will be back soon to show the window soldered.

In the meantime, 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!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Geometric beveled stained glass window - Glass cut

As of today, all the glass for the window has been cut.  We're getting closer to how the window will look when its all done.  Here are some photos of the process .. Click on any photo to enlarge.

Here's how to cut the inner curves on the yellow wispy glass.  These cuts must be done in small bits at a time to avoid snapping the ends of the glass. Notice how I've scored concentric curves.  The tool in the background is my rusty, old, faithful grozier pliers.  I use them to carefully snap off these chunks, getting closer to the center of the curve each time.

For straight line cuts, its always best to lean the cutter against an old, flat ruler as shown.
 Another good idea is to sweep up any stray bits of glass after each cut.  Even small pieces trapped under a larger piece can cause it to crack.  Remember, "the glass is the boss".
 And here is the window with all the glass cut.  My customer chose a wonderful palette of colors!  Notice that the window is still fenced in with the metal jig.
 Here's a side view showing one of the dimensional side bevels.  Beautiful!
 And here's another view showing the textures of the rough rolled clear glass, the wispy yellow and the dimensional bevels.
The next step to follow will be the application of copper foil to each piece of glass.  Stay tuned ..

In the meantime, 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!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Geometric beveled stained glass window - Design to pattern making

This window is going to be a surprise Christmas gift for my customer's husband.  Part of the gift is that he can read this blog on Christmas morning and see how it was made. They have an opening in their wall between the living room and enclosed porch which holds an air conditioning unit. They had spoken about having a custom stained glass window made for the space, and she decided to go ahead and have me make it for him.

Here's the first blog entry as the process gets started.  Here's the opening for the window which measures 26" x 15-5/8".  My software enables me to create exact size windows. (Click on any photo to enlarge)
 Here's the "inspiration" window which my customer found online:
 Using my software, I created 14 different color schemes using the colors she chose.  Her choice is #14 (second row, middle, below).  To allow for maximum light, I'll be using wispy purple, wispy yellow, clear rough rolled (which shows as gray), hammered amber, two 2" x 4" clear bevels (sides) and one 4" x 7" clear bevel (center).
To make the pattern, I first printed out a full size "cartoon" or working copy.  Then I traced it onto used manila folders which have been taped together side by side.  Then I numbered each piece with the colors noted and added small hash marks to guide in the direction of the patterns on the glass.
 I then cut out the pattern pieces using stained glass pattern shears which cut a small channel of paper on the cut line.  This allows for space for the copper foil which will be added to the glass later.
 A great use for junk mail envelopes .. I label the pattern pieces by color and then separate them into the envelopes.  Its important to stay organized, and far easier to cut all of one color at once.
 After the pattern is completely traced and the pieces are separated by color, a metal "jig" or fence is pinned down around the outer border of the pattern.  This keeps all the glass "square" to facilitate the addition of the metal frame which comes later.
 And the glass cutting process begins!  Here I've used a silver Sharpie pen to outline the first piece of the wispy purple border.  Using a pistol grip cutter as shown, I scored inside the silver line and tapped repeatedly on it, on both sides, until it separates.  Then I go back and score and snap off the remaining end.

 I repeat that for each of the wispy purple border strips, as shown below.  Note that I also number each strip.  This is important, particularly when working with glass which looks the same.  There are always slight fluctuations .. If you do not number them and place them in the proper spot, it will create un-necessary work later when it comes time to fitting them against adjoining pieces.
 Each piece of glass is then brought to the grinder.  The edges of all glass must be grinded in order for the copper foil to adhere properly, and of course, for safety in handling.  Note that I'm wearing rubber finger protectors for this process.  They are readily found in Staples, in various sizes.
 After cutting, each piece is then rinsed, being careful not to wash off the numbers.
 Each piece of glass is then placed onto the pattern like so.  The pieces should fit snugly but not tightly.
 In the coming days, I'll be cutting all the glass, working from the outside border into the center.  Stay tuned as this beauty comes to life ..

In the meantime, 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!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pool Table Stained Glass Lamp Repair

I actually completed the repair of this lamp a couple of weeks ago. But Hurricane Sandy and Nor'easter Athena hit us hard here in Northern New Jersey.  Both storms resulted in extended power outages.  Tonight is my first opportunity to update the blog.

This lamp was made by my customer's family member several years ago and had been in storage, awaiting repair.  It is a large, heavy piece, made to hang over a pool table or bar. The construction is mostly copper foil, but has been reinforced with lead came around the upper and lower perimeters. The lamp had a few breaks at the crucial corners which weakened it.  Here's how I repaired the cracked pieces: (Click on any photo to enlarge).

Here is one of the corner pieces which had been cracked .. the piece on the adjoining corner was also cracked.  I repaired four broken pieces on this lamp.  Here are two of the repairs.
 Here's another broken corner piece on the opposite side.
The first step is to carefully assess all the damage and to determine which piece to repair first.  After choosing the starting piece, carefully remove it.  I opened up the lead came which reinforces the entire perimeter by wedging a flat screwdriver into the space and carefully bending it back.

Here I'm using needle nose pliers to extract the broken piece and to peel off the old copper foil and solder which lines the space.  
Now the space is clean and the lead came is open.
The choice of glass is important with any repairs, but particularly with lamps.  What looks like a good match in natural light may not be when the light is turned on.  Here I'm holding the old piece of glass up to a replacement piece to assess its luminosity in front of another lamp.  Note that the replacement glass is actually antique glass which was recently gifted to me by a retired stained glass artisan.  (Thank you again, Bob!).  Because this is an older lamp, it is optimal to use older glass for a perfect match.  
I then made a pattern of the open space using the old piece glass as a guide.  Then I inserted the pattern into the space to ensure that it would be a good fit.
 After tracing the pattern onto the antique glass, I scored it using a pistol grip cutter.  I tapped on the score line repeatedly until the glass cracked along its entire length as shown.  Then I used stained glass running pliers to cut it to shape.
 Below, I've replaced the new piece into the space, added copper foil around the edge, soldered it, and folded back the lead came. The next step (not shown) was the brushing on of the black patina.
 Here is another corner piece which I replaced and copper foiled.  I used 7/32" foil, the same width as was used in the original construction.  Here it is awaiting soldering and the application of black patina.
A lamp of this weight requires that cleaning be done carefully with lots of clean water and a large, soft sponge.  Its too large to rinse in a sink. I cleaned up the entire lamp, and then waxed it to add shine and life to the solder and to the glass.  Here are a couple of views of the finished, repaired lamp.  Its now strengthened and ready for many more years of enjoyment by the family.

If you have a broken, Tiffany style lamp that needs repair, give me a call.  I can usually assess the damage and arrange to give you an estimate if you send me detailed cellphone photos.  Click here to see more lamp (and other) copper foil stained glass repairs.   Call me: 201-600-1616.   Click here to visit my website.  Thanks!

My next project is to build a custom stained glass window which will hang inside a wall opening which separates a living room from an enclosed porch.  It'll be another beauty.  Stay tuned.  I expect to begin working on it next week.