Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Vase of Flowers Stained Glass Fire Screen - Repair

This beautiful fire screen suffered several cracked pieces when it accidentally fell.  Its a Chinese piece, which, as I've mentioned in previous posts, requires extra care.  But all's well that ends well.  Here's the story of the repair of this beautiful piece which I completed three weeks ago.  (Click on any photo to enlarge).

Here's its "before" photo.  The cracked pieces are marked with pieces of blue tape.  Click on it to enlarge for a closer view.

 Below are a couple of close ups of the damaged pieces.

 After I've assessed the damage and marked the pieces that need replacing, I've used a pistol grip glass cutter to cross-hatch the top side of a cracked piece.  Here, I'm tapping on the glass repeatedly, causing it to crack out.  I use needle nose pliers to remove remaining bits of glass.
 For this project, I used two soldering irons, one more narrow for the soldering and the wider one to melt out old solder and copper foil.  As always, I wore a protective breathing mask while soldering.
 Below, I've cracked out four pieces of glass, two near the flowers and two at the upper border.
 Below, I'm using the wider soldering iron to melt out the existing solder and copper foil.  Before replacing cracked glass, its important to create a clean surface to allow for maximum fit and adherence.
 Below, I've cleaned up the interior border and slid a piece of manila folder underneath.  I've traced the inner border in order to make the pattern for the replacement.  I also marked the direction of the amber glass so that I can cut a new piece in the same orientation.
A little "still life" below .. My grozier pliers which I use to crack and shape glass, two pieces of replacement glass with their patterns, my pistol grip cutter and a thin black Sharpie pen used to outline the pattern onto the glass.
 Below, I'm wearing Staples' rubber fingers as I hold the newly cut glass against the grinder.  Grinding the glass is essential, not only for safety but for the adhesion of the copper foil.
 Here I'm applying 3/16" copper foil to the edges of the glass.
 Below, pressing the copper foil onto the glass with a "fid".
 Now the inside border as well as the piece have been copper foiled.  Here I'm applying liquid flux to the foil to prepare it for soldering.
 Using the thinner soldering iron, I'm applying solder to lock the glass in place.
 Notice that I've cut and laid down a piece of corrugated cardboard beneath this piece, to get it on the same plane as the rest of the fire screen.
 Below, I'm using the end of the pistol grip glass cutter to smash out another piece of cracked glass.
 Below, that piece has been replaced and I'm moving on to the neighboring piece by tracing a pattern for the new glass.
 Now that piece has also been replaced and soldered.  Below I'm brushing on Novacan Black Patina for Solder which works instantly to change the silver solder to black.
 Below, a quick view of the work at this point with the cracked floral pieces replaced.
 Onto the green border.  Here I've used an existing piece of glass as a pattern. 
 Below, I'm using the wide soldering iron to melt the old solder and copper foil off the outer wire of the fire screen.  I've left that wire in place intentionally in order to maintain the structure and strength of the piece.  Notice the nasty white smoke emanating from the soldering iron.  I'm wearing a protective mask for this process.
 Now the wire has been cleaned off as well as the borders, so its ready for the new glass.
 Below, the new glass has been cut, grinded, foiled and has been placed in the piece.  Not shown here, but this piece was soldered soon after.
 Below are the final areas which will receive new glass.  At this point, the borders and the wire have been cleared of old solder and copper foil.
 Below, the new glass has been foiled and set in place.  Note that both of these pieces are cut larger than what can be seen.  Both the amber and the green fit into the black frame of the fire screen.  Again, I did this to secure the stability and strength of the piece.
 Here both pieces are being soldered in place after being fluxed.
 And again I'm applying the black patina so that it will match the rest of the piece. After the patina process, I spray the area with flux remover, rinse it with water and dry it thoroughly.  The finished piece then receives a coat of wax which is buffed to a shine.  My husband also repaired the chain (not shown) which attaches the "wings" of the fire screen to the front piece. 
 And here is the finished window.  (Click on it to enlarge)
Thank you so much, Penny and Kevin, for bringing your fire screen to me for repair.  I know how much this one means to you and I hope you'll enjoy it for many years!
(P.S. If anyone is looking for a talented harp player, let me know and I'll connect you to Penny).

Next up:  Repairs to another fire screen and two lamps.  Stay tuned for those.

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. You mentioned this was originally made in China. With such a big piece like a fire screen, they should have used 7/32" copper foil. In my opinion things made in China are poorly made, I would never buy stained glass panels made in China.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Irene. I agree, wider 7/32" foil would have been the better choice for the original construction of such a large piece. The old adage "you get what you pay for" holds true. Well made domestic stained glass pieces will last for many, many years longer than cheaply made imports.