Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Geometric bath windows - Pattern to Installation


Shortly after we completed work on the kitchen cabinet replacement panels (see blog entries below), we began the next commission.  This commission is for a pair of double-hung windows for a bathroom which overlooks a patio.  For many years, the homeowners had used a stick-on faux stained glass window product.  They decided it was finally time to put the real thing in its place.  The homeowners requested that the glass used would allow for privacy, but also light.  They had a wonderful design already in mind.  They also had a deadline in mind, their upcoming family reunion.  No problem!  Here is their inspiration window: (Click on any photo to enlarge).
The homeowner wanted to use just the three interlocking diamonds in the center.  She had a warm color scheme in mind, using ambers and perhaps some green.  I presented a modified, two-window design in three different color combinations.  Below is the rendition of the chosen color combination for the upper and lower, double-hung windows.


Together, we decided on a medium amber rough rolled glass for the borders, light amber opalescent for the larger triangles, medium green hammered Cathedral for the design, and clear granite for the center diamonds.  This glass will provide light and privacy and the colors and textures will add visual interest.

After deciding the design, glass choices and colors, the next step is to prepare the pattern.  This is done by tracing it onto old manila folders using carbon paper as shown:

Next, each piece of the pattern is cut using specialized scissors which leave a small amount of “breathing space” between each piece, as shown.  This is to allow room for the copper foil which will be applied later.
Its important to be very well organized with the pattern pieces, especially when building two nearly identical windows.  I labeled each piece “top” or “bottom” and put them into recycled, labeled envelopes as shown:
When tracing the pattern onto glass which is textured, turn the glass to the smooth side and turn the pattern face down.  The glass is then scored using a glass cutter. There are several kinds available. I prefer the pistol grip cutter as shown.

As for cutting glass, there are several techniques to use, depending on the character of the glass.  Generally speaking, Cathedral (or see-through) glass is easiest to cut.  The more dense opalescent glass take a bit more care, sometimes a lot more.  But either glass can break unexpectedly, so I always follow the rule, “The glass is the boss.”

Below, I’ve traced and scored the border glass.  Since it uses about 1/3 of the total 12” x 16” sheet, and the cut is a straight line, I scored it and decided to snap it off the edge of the table as shown.  My left hand is resting on the “good” part, the part that will be used in the window. Pressing gently down with my right hand (not shown), the glass broke cleanly and evenly across its entire length.

Another way to cut straight pieces, particularly shorter ones is to use “running pliers” like the blue ones shown here.  Tap lightly on the score line front and back, using the metal end of the pistol grip cutter.  Then line up the score line with the line on top of the pliers and use medium pressure.  If the glass does not respond, tap some more and try again.  Keep trying until it breaks. 

There are also a few ways to trim off small pieces of glass.  One way is by using “groziers” or special stained glass pliers as shown:

After several pieces of glass are cut, I take them to the grinder and smooth all the edges. This is done not only for safety, but to assure that the copper foil will adhere correctly.

Notice that I’m wearing fingertip protectors.  They are invaluable when grinding cut glass.  They are available at any Staples, in several sizes.

As each piece of glass is cut and ground, it gets laid onto the pattern like a jigsaw puzzle.  Notice that the borders of the pattern are now contained with a metal fence or “jig”.  This assures that all the glass stays in place throughout the process.  The “jig” is released only after the glass has been tack soldered.  Here are both windows with all the glass cut, inside the jigs.  
Notice the beautiful textures of the glass which provide not only light, but privacy.
The copper foil process is next.  Each piece of glass is edged with adhesive copper foil.  There are several widths of foil available.  I used the most common size, 7/32” wide.  Because these windows will have a black patina, I used black-backed foil for the see-through glass.  Here are the windows, fully foiled:

Next is the tack soldering.  All of the copper foil is now brushed with a liquid flux as shown, and soldered at the joints and key spots within the windows.  When the tack soldering is done, the jig is released and the paper pattern is slid out from underneath and set aside.
Here are both windows, securely tack soldered, with the jig and pattern removed.

Then the full soldering process begins.  First the front, then the back of each window.  Safety first, I always wear a Sperian P1130 face mask against any flux or fumes from the solder, which is 60/40, tin/lead.  The masks are about $12 each and can be found in most hardware stores.

Here are the windows, fully soldered, front and back.  You’ll note that I do not add copper foil to the outer edges of the windows.  It sometimes interferes with the installation of the metal framing, so it is best left off.

Here my husband Eric is fitting metal channel, or framing material, to the borders of each side of each window.  This adds strength and stability.  It also assures that if the homeowners ever want to remove the windows, they can do so.  Framing with metal channel adds considerably to the life of any stained glass window.

Here are both windows, with the metal channel, back in the jig so that I can solder the lead lines to the frames.

I solder the lead lines to the frame on the back of each window.  I also solder the mitered corners, front and back.

After both windows were soldered and framed, I carefully wash them with powdered cleanser and brush them in the sink.  This is to remove the flux, beads of solder, and any remaining marks made by the Sharpie during the assembly process.

After the windows are dry, the black patina is brushed onto the solder lines and the zinc channel frame, both sides.
After the patina is dried, each window is waxed on both sides.  Then they are ready for installation!  Here are the windows being held in place by my husband, Eric, as he prepares to install them.
Below, he is applying the adhesive to the metal channel to secure them to the existing windows.
Here is the upper window, installed.

It takes about 24 hours for the adhesive to set completely.  Therefore Eric temporarily secured both windows by using corrugated cardboard blocks and blue painters tape.  The homeowners had their own "big reveal" the next day, when they removed the blocks and tape!

In summary, here are the "inspiration" photo, the computer rendition of the finished windows, and the finished windows!
The entire process, design through installation, took just under 3 weeks.  Best of all, we were able to complete them in time for the family's reunion.  Thank you, Nancy and Roy .. It was such a pleasure creating these for you!

If your bath, or kitchen, or other room, could use some color and character, please consider us creating a window or two for you, also!  Visit our website for ideas .. Look through the projects to the lower right side of the blog .. and get in touch!  201-600-1616.  If you are on FaceBook, you can keep up with our work by becoming one of our fans .. And remember, we also work long distance, collaborating on your design via email and phone .. All we need to get started are a few photos and your measurements!  Thank you!






Monday, August 13, 2012

Kitchen cabinet replacements - Lovely letter of thanks

We just love our customers .. Here's a wonderful note of thanks for their new kitchen cabinet panels!

Kathy and Eric,
I just wanted to thank you again for the beautiful stained glass windows.
I can't believe what a difference they make in my newly renovated kitchen. I waited 12 years to update my kitchen and now with your help and talent I have the kitchen of my dreams. 

You made the process so effortless.  Even with my many changes to the pattern you had such patience.(thank you for that!).  You and Eric make such a wonderful team and are so easy to work with that I'm thinking of adding more stained glass in my home.
Gayle and Steve




To see more of my work, please visit my website .. or find me on FaceBook .. Thanks!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Kitchen Cabinet Replacements - Installation

Here are the 3 completed kitchen cabinet panels, ready for installation.  At this point, they've been framed with thin metal channel, the copper patina has been applied, and they've been lightly waxed with a stained glass compound to protect the patina and add some shine to the glass.  (Click on any photo to enlarge)

Wednesday night, Eric installed them.  Since our last visit, our customers had updated their counter tops and floors for a more modern, updated look. These new panels were the finishing touch!

You'll recall the original kitchen cabinet panels featured pastel colored roses .. Here Eric has removed and replaced the first panel and is about to remove the second one.
The new panels look so good in the kitchen, its like they've been there all along.  My customer has a great eye for design and color and we worked together to find the perfect combination to enhance the new space.  It was a fun collaboration!  Below are the original cabinet panels, the computer renditions of the completed panels, and the final results!
The larger cabinets open into the dining room, so they can be enjoyed from both sides.
The best part of my job is having happy customers.  It was a real pleasure to create these panels.  Thanks so much, Gayle and Steve, may you and your family enjoy them for many years to come!

Coming soon .. Another commission which we installed last night.  Stay tuned ..

To see more of my work, please visit my website .. or find me on FaceBook .. Thanks!