Sunday, July 7, 2013

Oval window with Bevels and Gems - Design and Pattern Making

This series of postings will chronicle the design, pattern making, glass cutting, foiling, soldering, cleaning, building and installation of a gorgeous 19" x 31" oval window.  I am creating this custom window for a newly-renovated bathroom.

My customer loves bevels and gems and asked me to create designs using each of these elements.  Since the bevels were the focal point, I started there by creating two original designs from which to chose.  I presented seven different color combinations of each design, based on my customer's preferences. 

Here's her choice .. I located this beautiful bevel cluster through one of my suppliers.  My idea was to use two of them, point to point, as the center of the oval. I also suggested replacing the clear center gem, which is 1-12" wide or approximately 40mm, with a colored gem to match or complement colors which would appear elsewhere in the design. 

Here's the bevel.  Its 7" x 9", and below are the gems in the amber and purple colors chosen by my customer.

Below is a computer rendition of the chosen design and color combination, which is not exactly to scale.  The background glass, which appears gray in the rendition, is clear glue chip.  It is the top choice for use with bevels.  It is a good privacy glass and also lets in a lot of light.  For accents, she chose a medium amber border in a rough rolled glass, and added two amber gems to the center of the bevels as shown.  For more color, six purple gems were added as shown, around the bevels.

After my husband and I took a long weekend in Florida, and after a couple more days to wait for the arrival of the glass and bevels, I got down to work on the pattern making.  Here's the process.

For windows which are non-standard sizes, such as this oval, my husband Eric makes a paper template of the opening.  Normally, I build a window on top of a paper pattern, which is a full-size version of the computer rendition above.  But since this is a non-standard size, I will build the window directly on top of the template.  Below is the template. 
Eric marked the inside edge of the existing window and cut in, and taped, the inserts at the sides of the window where there is a small "bump in".  To start, I carefully folded the template exactly in half, and then lengthwise, in order to establish the center point.  Its marked below with a push pin.
Then I make a carbon paper sandwich with a side-by-side taped-together layer of old manila folders, then a layer of carbon paper, then the template.  Every mark I make on the template will now be transferred to the manila folders for use in the pattern making process.
My work surface is a large piece of Homasote, which is a sound-proofing material used by builders. It is readily available at any Loew's or Home Depot and can be cut to size.  It accepts pushpins well and has just enough "give" to be a good surface for cutting glass.

To establish the scale of the window and draw out the rest of the lines, I laid down each of the bevel clusters on the template which was provided with them.  Notice that I've already replaced the provided clear gem with amber ones.
I've marked the center line, top to bottom, Now I'm marking the top segment of the window by measuring down from the top of the oval as shown.   

 I drew a parallel line from the midpoint of the top of the oval from the top of the bevel.
 With that line established, I did the same measurement and drawing on the bottom of the template.  Here I'm measuring between those two lines to establish the distance for the three segments which fall between.
 With the horizontal lines drawn, I'm now outlining the bevels.
 Eric stepped in at this point, and cut in the outer border 1/8th" to allow for the lead u-came which will frame the piece upon completion. 
He used short lengths of balsa wood pinned onto the work surface in order to get a uniform measurement all around the oval.  Then he traced each segment through the carbon paper onto the manila folders below.
I'm back now, using a 90 degree ruler to trace in the segments around the border which will be medium amber rough rolled glass.  While I'm doing this, I'm careful to avoid creating "hinges" or straight lines which go from one end of the window to the other.  By "breaking" the straight line with a solid one, "hinges" are avoided and the overall piece will have far more strength.
Now the full design has been transferred onto the manila folder pattern beneath.  Notice that I've numbered each piece and added notes regarding the location of the piece (right, left. top, bottom) and type of glass as well.
To resolve the issue of the "bump-ins" on the right and left of the existing window, I'll be curving the glass around rather than cutting a sharp edge.  This will also add to the strength of the window and transfer the overall weight more evenly.
Since everything has been marked, I pulled up all the push pins and lifted the manila pattern out from under the carbon paper and the paper template.  The next step in making the pattern is to use standard scissors to carefully cut around the entire border, as I'm doing below.
The rest of the pattern must be cut with stained glass pattern making shears, shown below.  These special scissors are double bladed.  They cut out a small "breathing space" between the glass.  This space will be taken up later by copper foil and is essential to the proper fitting of the pieces.
 Below, all of the pattern pieces have been cut and set aside in re-purposed junk mail envelopes.
Next, I will begin cutting and grinding the glass .. Stay tuned as this beautiful window comes to life!

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!

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