Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Red Ivy Stained Glass Lamp - Repair

This is the second of two lamps that were shipped to me for repair from Wisconsin.  Its a beauty!  It features thick, dimensional red leaves underneath an unusual black web-like design which is accented by natural colored opalescent glass.  Its a Chinese Quoizel lamp, so I observed the usual precautions.  Click here to read more about Chinese stained glass

Here's an inside view of the dome of this beautiful lamp.  My customer's request was to add glass to the six larger open areas between the red ivy leaves.  I marked the open areas with squares of blue tape. I also re-attached the small orange leaf that appears at the top of the photo, on the border. This is a very heavy lamp.  It weighs a full ten pounds. (Click on any photo to enlarge for a closer look).
 The glass used toward the crown of the dome appears to be Youghiogheny, which is a thick opalescent glass which features several colors running through it.  Below is a collection of glass from my inventory which I selected for the repair of the lamp. These greens are in a similar color family as the existing greens already in the lamp.
 For some reason, many of the smaller pieces of glass had been removed from this lamp.  Here you can see how the light bulbs beneath the dome are visible through the larger openings in the lamp.
 The first step in filling those areas was to remove the existing solder and copper foil.  Notice the white smoke rising up above the soldering iron.  There's no way to tell exactly what kind of solder the Chinese use in the construction, so rest assured I'm wearing a protective breathing mask and have an exhaust fan going.  I do this for all soldering work, but I'm particularly vigilant with Chinese pieces.
 The blue tape below marks the loose border leaf, which I re-foiled and re-soldered.  Note the copper foil pulling away from the large leaf in the center.  The goal is to get the borders as clean as possible.
Below, to the right of the opening, you can see a chunk of old foil with old solder which has made its way off the edge of the leaf.  I pulled it the rest of the way with needle-nosed pliers.
 More cleaning out with needle-nosed pliers.

Below, I'm wearing a protective breathing mask as I solder.  The weakest part of this heavy 10 pound lamp is the outer border, so I did all of the preliminary work with the inside of the dome facing up, so as not to put any pressure on the edges of the lamp.  I repeated the steps below six times until each open area was filled with new glass.
 Clean area, almost ready for a new piece of glass.  I traced a piece of manila folder (seen here) to use as a pattern for the new glass.  Then I cleaned the border using a spray flux cleaner.
 The new piece of glass, traced with a fine Sharpie marker.  The finer the line, the better the fit.  Opalescent glass generally has different colors, front and back.  I chose to use the brighter colors facing out, to match the existing glass.  Since I was working on the inside of the dome, I cut the glass with the paler colors inside.
 Cutting the piece with an oil-filled pistol grip glass cutter held at a 90 degree angle while applying moderate pressure.
 Snapping the score by using "running pliers".
 Grinding the edges of the glass.  This is necessary, not only to protect the fingers but to allow the copper foil to adhere correctly.  Notice I'm wearing my trusty rubber fingers from Staples Office Supply.
 Next, the adhesive copper foil is wrapped evenly around the edge of the glass.  Then the sides are pressed down using a "fid" or flexible plastic wand.
 The inside border of the opening is then copper-foiled.
 Here I'm applying liquid flux to the copper foil.  This acts as a wetting agent which allows the foil to accept the solder.
 The glass in place, ready for soldering.  I carefully tilted the dome so that the piece to be soldered would be "flat" in line with the work surface.  This enabled the solder to flow properly, directly on top of the copper foil and then down between the adjoining pieces, for strength.
 Here I'm removing the old foil from the small leaf which became loose at the edge of the lamp.
 When it was time to solder the outside of the dome, I carefully placed it into a large box full of packing peanuts to give it something to rest on and to avoid putting any pressure on the outer border.  Below is the small leaf which I re-attached to the outer border.
 Here's the dome resting in a bed of packing peanuts.  While it was there, I soldered around each new piece of glass, tilting the dome so that the piece being worked on was facing up.
 Below I'm applying the black patina to the copper foil.  I recently started using a spray flux remover which enabled me to clean the lamp "in place" without having to risk damage by bringing it to the sink.  The spray works wonders on the patina as well.  As a final step, I lightly sprayed the dome with water inside and out and wiped it down.
 And here's the finished product, a very dramatic statement in a dark room.  The lamp now has new glass in the six largest openings among the beautiful red ivy leaves.  Stunning!
Thanks again to Bruce for entrusting me with another of his beautiful stained glass lamps.  It was a pleasure repairing this for you .. Enjoy!

UPDATE (May 3, 2013)
Note: Bruce has done stained glass and after I shipped the lamp back, he added some wonderful glass beads to the border, where there were openings in the metal.  Take a look at his handiwork!

My next project, already underway, is the repair of a stained glass fire screen.  I hope to post that in the next couple of days.  Another lamp repair and another fire screen repair will follow early next month.  Stay tuned.  And if you have any comments or questions, please let me know!

Please visit my website to see my custom windows and repairs (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.  Call me any time at 201-600-1616 or email with your questions. Thanks!


  1. That lamp looks beautiful and I Love those red leaves. I am curious how they made the veins on those leaves. Nice repair job.

  2. Hi Irene,
    Thank you for the compliment and for being such a fan of my work. Greatly appreciated!
    Those red leaves ARE amazing, aren't they? They must have been made with a mold in a unique process, different from flat glass. Doing repairs, I come across all sorts of unique glass .. love it!