Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dragonfly Stained Glass Lamp Repair

This blog will show, start to finish, the assessment and repair of a stained glass Dragonfly lamp.  This one was shipped to me from Wisconsin. The lamp owner and I kept in touch throughout the process via email.  This is the third Chinese-made lamp repair in a row with the same issue .. The canopy became detached from the dome of the lamp.

For more insight into Chinese lamps, please click here to read an earlier blog entry.  Chinese lamps pose a number of challenges, not the least of which is determining the construction method and then using utmost caution when doing the repair.  (Click on any photo to enlarge).

Whenever I use the soldering iron on any stained glass project, I wear a specialized breathing mask as shown below, a Sperian P100 Respirator for Lead Removal. I also ventilate my work space.  These protective measures are especially important when the materials being worked with are of unknown origin.
The lamp arrived in several pieces including the metal ring below and several small pieces of orange opalescent glass which had been soldered around it.  Shown to the right of the dome is orange glass from my inventory which I will be using to make the repair.
The first step was to remove the existing solder and copper foil which was around the metal ring.  For any repair, its necessary to create a clean work surface so that all connecting parts can be re-soldered and strengthened.  Not all of the solder would melt off, but with Chinese pieces, its not possible to determine exactly what type of solder or iron was used, so anomalies like this are to be expected.  I've learned to work around them.
 Below, I've begun removing the solder that is in the inside of the center of the dome.  I accomplished that by heating it up first and then scraping it with the soldering iron.
 I also used needle-nosed pliers to pry off the old solder and foil.
 Here's the inner ring of the dome, clear of old foil and solder.  I rinsed off the dome at this point to prepare a clean surface for the addition of copper foil.
 Below, I've added 7/32" adhesive copper foil to the inside ring and I'm pressing it onto the glass with a "fid" or flat, flexible plastic wand. 
 The owner of the lamp had some experience working with stained glass and he had foiled the loose pieces about 6 months ago.  Because foil adhesive can deteriorate over time, I decided to remove the foil and replaced it.  It came off readily by hand, no tools needed.
Below, I'm applying new copper foil, centering it to the sides of each piece of glass. I then pressed the sides down onto the back and front of each piece of glass.
Here's a good tip for foiling small pieces of glass.  Hand-press the foil onto each piece and put 4-6 pieces into a film container, or similar size holder.  With the cap on the container, shake the pieces up and down repeatedly for about 30 seconds.  When you open it up, all the pieces will be perfectly foiled.
Every repair is different and sometimes I have to improvise to do the repair correctly.  I determined where the small pieces of glass need to be soldered and I also realized that they were not on the same plane, so an adjustment needed to be made.  Here I've traced the metal ring and I'm making templates from cardboard which will be used to rest the pieces on.
 Below, I've inserted the metal ring in the center of the cardboard templates (double thickness as shown above).  This enables the small pieces of glass to rest against the outer side of the metal ring.  Without the cardboard template, the glass pieces would not be on the proper plane for soldering.
 Another view below .. The foiled glass pieces resting on top of the double cardboard template. Note that the flat plane of the glass is exactly lined up with the flat plane of the metal ring.
 Here I'm applying copper foil to the inside of the flange. This is the inner edge where the glass will be attached.
Now the metal ring is positioned on the cardboard, ready to accept the smaller pieces of glass.  I've brushed Canfield liquid flux onto the copper foil.  If you look carefully, (or click the photo to enlarge) you'll note that I've also added a length of braided silver-colored reinforcement wire around the interior of the larger circle.  When this is soldered in, it will add a great deal of strength to the dome to ensure that it will not break in the future.
 Here I'm applying Canfield liquid flux to the copper foil.  I then soldered these pieces to the dome, in place.
 Here I'm soldering the glass on the outside of the dome.
 Several piece of the original glass were broken.  Below, I've traced a pattern made from a manila folder which will enable me to cut six new pieces of glass to fit the remainder of the ring.
Using orange opalescent glass from my inventory, I've cut and traced the six pieces below onto the glass.  I use an oil-fed pistol grip cutter to cut the glass.
 Pressing down at a 90 degree angle while leaning against a flat ruler as shown, I scored the glass in a line at the top edge of the line of glass pieces.
Then I tapped on the glass using the brass end of the pistol grip cutter.   This "loosens" the glass and lets the oil work into the score so the cut will break in a straight line. 

Then, using a tool called "running pliers", I snapped off the glass.
 Next I cut and then trimmed each piece using the tool below, "grozier pliers".  They are useful for snipping off small piece of glass.
  Then, each piece goes under the grinder so the edges are no longer sharp.  This also allows for the application of copper foil which will not stick to un-grinded glass.  Notice that I'm wearing "rubber fingers".  They are available in a few sizes from any Staples Office Supply store. They protect the fingers and allow for a firm grip on the glass.
 Here I'm scrubbing the dome with powdered cleanser and rinsing it in the sink, after the glass has been soldered on both sides of the dome.
 With the soldering done and cleaned, the dome is allowed to dry completely.  Then I brushed on Novacan Black Patina for Solder which works instantly to turn the solder from silver to black.
 The inside of the dome also receives patina.
 And here is the completed lamp with the original and new pieces around the ring, securely re-soldered and patina-ed.
Here's the view from inside the dome.
 Voila!  I packed up the lamp dome and shipped it back to Wisconsin.  My customer kindly sent this photograph of the lamp back in its home in Wisconsin.  He was very pleased with the repair .. In fact he is sending a second lamp for me to repair!  Stay tuned ...

Here is his lovely note of thanks!

Hi, Kathy,
Nothing but GOOD NEWS. As you’ll see from the attached, the dragonfly did indeed arrive today. I’m happy to say my guess on the aperture ring was correct (whew!). You did a fantastic job and I’m so glad to have this lamp back in circulation here at Chateau B----. I’m most grateful for your taking this on and the speed with which you did the work. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

Please visit my website (click here).  If you are on FaceBook, become a fan and I'll keep you up to date on all my stained glass projects.  Call me any time at 201-600-1616 or email me with your questions. Thanks!

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