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!