Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Panel with Bevel Clusters and Blue Gems - Glass Cutting and Copper Foiling

In the previous posting, I had just begun the glass cutting process. After delays due to temporary glass unavailability and Labor Day Weekend, and Eric and I going away, I'm back with the near-final steps of the process.  Here they are ...  (Click on any photo to enlarge for a closer look).

Cutting curves such as those in this panel require a bit more expertise than a straight line.  Here's one way to cut a curve .. Below, notice the outer curve on the left.  This curve follows the line of the pattern.  You'll notice that I scored several adjacent curves next to it.  Here I'm "chunking" out each piece using grozier pliers.  By removing sections of the curve in this way, there is far less likelihood that it will break badly.  Its no guarantee .. Glass can be very unpredictable.  But its a reliable way to get a nice curve.

Since my inventory of clear Artique glass was low, I decided to fit as many pieces as possible onto a single sheet of glass and then cut them using my Gryphon Omni Wire Saw, as seen in the earlier post.  The saw pours water onto the glass as its cutting, in order to keep the blade cool.  Below I'm applying lip balm to my Sharpie lines to prevent them from washing off as I cut out the pieces.

The saw is messy and loud but it does the job.  Below, I started cutting in between the pieces, first from one side, then the other.  I left about 1-1/2" of glass attached in the middle.  I carefully extricated the sheet of glass from the blade, scored that small segment of glass with a pistol grip cutter, and snapped it.  Voila!  Two pieces of glass with lines I could easily cut by hand, and a big savings in the amount of glass used.

Whenever I cut a large number of rectangular pieces, I lay the patterns side by side and do them production line style.  Here I've cut all the border pieces.  As I cut each piece, I mark each pattern with an "X".  When pieces are similar, its easy to accidentally re-cut the same pattern.  Marking them with an "X" avoids re-cutting.  Next, I grind each piece in the Glastar Grinder, rinse them under the faucet, and place them onto the pattern.

Now all of the bevels are laid in place and all the glass around it has been cut.  To get each piece to fit exactly, some tweaking is almost always needed.  Even though the patterns have been cut accurately, glass can sometimes be too large or too small for the space.  Since glass is not flexible like fabric or other creative media, it has to be trimmed or ground down if its too large.  A handful of pieces required extra care to fit.

Below, I'm applying the adhesive copper foil to the edges of each piece of bevel and each piece of glass.  I'm using "black back" 7/32" foil.  It takes some dexterity for this step because the foil has to be placed dead center on the glass in order for the sides to be even.

The next step is to use a "fid" or flexible plastic wand to press the copper foil onto the glass.   This smooths it out and prevents chemicals from making their way under the foil.

Copper foil comes in a few different styles .. The sticky side can be copper colored, black or silver.  The choice of interior color is made based on what color patina will be used.  Since I'll be using black patina on this panel, I'm using black back foil.  Notice in the photo below that you can see the interior black through the glass.  When using opal (or non see-through) glass, this is not an issue.  But when using clear glass, as in this panel, using black back copper foil is essential.

And here's the latest .. Each piece of the panel has been cut to fit and then foiled.  Notice that the "fence" or "jig" is still in place.  It will remain there until the next step to follow shortly, tack soldering.

Almost done!  Stay tuned for the final steps and the installation this week!

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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