Thursday, January 17, 2013

Waterglass Ribbon Window Pattern Cutting and Soldering

Now that over a dozen (actually 16) pieces of cracked glass have been scored and removed, its time to prepare the open spaces for new glass.  Below, I'm using the hot soldering iron and applying pressure at the midpoint between the layers of copper foil so that only the foil which was on the cracked piece will be pulled away.  I'm holding the entire window at an angle, to allow the melting solder and bits of foil to drip down.  (Click on any image to enlarge)
Here's an open piece, with the copper foil still intact on all surrounding pieces.  If the copper foil happens to come off, it will be necessary to apply new foil.  It saves time though to try and keep the older foil in place.  As long as the older copper foil is in good condition and the solder covers it, there should be no compromise in the strength of the window.
Below, to make a pattern for the new piece of glass, I've laid a piece of manila folder under the open space and outlined it in pencil.  Each new piece of glass needs its own pattern, even if pieces appear to be the same size.  Take my word for it, they never are.

Below, I'm placing a pattern piece into the open space, just to be sure it will be a good fit.  Glass is not flexible.  Within reason, each piece has to fit perfectly.  Notice that I've lightly marked an arrow in the center of the pattern piece.  This shows the direction of the waterglass.  Waterglass has a definite texture and in this window, each piece has been cut and soldered in a vertical format.  Therefore, all the replacement pieces must also be cut vertically.
(See below) To cut a curve, the first step is to score a straight line from high point to high point using a pistol grip (or other) glass cutter.  Then, applying pressure with running pliers (blue, below) the piece "should" snap along that line.  Then, the curve can be cut using groziers, another stained glass tool pictured below.

 Below, using grozier pliers to snap off a small piece of glass which has been scored with a glass cutter.

After the glass is cut, it is grinded on each side.  The purple sponge shown here is wicking water up from a reservoir under the grinding surface.  The spinning grinder should always be wet.  I'm wearing rubber finger tips purchased at Staples to guard against cuts and to keep a firm grip on the glass.  After grinding, each piece of glass is rinsed with water and dried.
Next, the adhesive copper foil is applied to the center of the edges of each piece.  (See first photo below). Since this window was built using 7/32" foil, I'm using the same width. Notice that I am using "black back" foil.  Since most of the glass in this window is clear and the patina is black, the black back foil is the correct choice because it will show through at the edges of the clear pieces. (Copper foil is also available in copper back and silver back, depending on the color of the patina.)

Next, the copper foil is pressed onto the glass using a flexible plastic wand or "fid".  Its important not to allow any chemicals or solder to get under the foil.

Each new piece of glass must be soldered in at the same level as the other pieces.  Below, I've got my hand below the window to position the new piece in place.  Notice that I've also added some blue painter's tape along the edges.  This is to hold the glass at the proper level, and also to prevent solder from leaking through.

Above, I'm applying liquid flux to the copper foil so that the solder will adhere properly. Notice that I have a magazine underneath, to flatten out the window due to those 3 faceted cabochons mentioned in the previous post.
Below, the new piece of glass has been soldered on three sides.  Notice that the piece on the left is cracked.  Since it will be replaced, I am not soldering that side of the new piece.  Keeping the copper foil un-soldered will make it much easier to solder it to the piece next to it, when it is added later.

A special note about corner and side pieces, below.  It takes a bit of skill and patience to replace cracked glass which falls along the sides or corner of a window such as this.  First, follow the "every other" rule and only remove every other piece, to keep the window sturdy.  As explained in the earlier post, never remove two cracked pieces that are side by side.  You will have no guideline for the patterns and you risk having the piece collapse.
For the side pieces, carefully pull out all the old solder and foil from inside the "channel" or metal framing.  You may need to wedge the soldering iron in there to melt any leftover material. Be careful not to stretch open the channel.  Trace the replacement glass as above, but add just a little more to the sides where it will be slid into the channel.  
In the photo below, I removed the corner piece of glass, made a pattern, cut the new piece and put it in place by sliding it down into the corners of the channel.  Then I cut the second piece, then the third, following the same format.  I taped the three pieces and soldered each one in place.  
Notice too, that I temporarily added a metal "fence" at the bottom.  This serves to press the channel into the glass and keep the side straight.  I've also temporarily placed a "fence" at the opposite side of the window to ensure that the piece maintains its "squareness".  I solder each lead line to the frame, for stability. Both fences are removed immediately after the solder cools.

 And here's the window as of today.    I've removed and replaced 16 clear waterglass pieces and have 19 more to do.  (That's 13 more clear waterglass pieces and 6 pale purple and medium purple waterglass pieces).  Almost there!  Stay in touch.

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!

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