Friday, September 20, 2013

Stained Glass Vegetable Kitchen Panel - Design, Pattern-making, Glass cutting

This commission posed a fun challenge, to come up with a 5-vegetable design to coordinate with an existing fruit-themed window in the adjoining room.  I collaborated with our customers, a husband and wife team, to create an original design.

She told me they'd like to have a green pepper, an eggplant, a tomato, an onion and a bulb of garlic in the design.  I went to the supermarket, bought a nice representation of each of those vegetables, and photographed them in about 25 different arrangements.  She chose one and after some tweaking by her artistically-trained husband, we finalized the design!  The panel is  37" wide and 21-1/2" high. Here's what the project looks like as of yesterday.

Here is the existing fruit themed window which was the starting point.  Its located in an adjoining room.  (Click on any photo to enlarge).

Here's one of my photos, the choice for the design.

And below is the computer rendition of the design.  Note that the background, which appears gray, will actually be clear glass with some texture in it. 

Using a combination of glass I had in inventory, plus more that I special ordered for this project, below is the palette of colors for the vegetables, ranging from orangey-reds to greens to ambers and purples.

After sizing and numbering the vegetable grouping in my computer, my husband Eric measured and drew in the diamonds for the background.  Then I placed the pattern or "cartoon" on top of the taped side-by-side manila folders and carbon paper.  I've added several push pins to the work surface to be sure that the papers and carbon paper don't shift as I'm tracing the design.

Using a color rendition of the design as a guide, here I'm numbering and writing the colors onto each piece of the pattern. 

A view of the manila folder pattern. 

The outer border of the pattern is cut with standard scissors.  All of the pieces themselves though, must be cut with specialized stained glass pattern shears.  These shears are double-bladed.  They cut out a small amount of manila folder, as shown. That space will be taken up later by copper foil.

Its always a goal to cut as many pieces of glass as possible from each sheet of glass.  Here, I've laid down three pieces of glass which share a cut.  This saves some time, as well.

Another grouping of pieces which I cut together.  This is a good technique for a project such as this where there is a repeated pattern of identically-sized glass.

After scoring each piece with the pistol grip cutter, I use the brass end of it to tap on the glass repeatedly until the glass "loosens" enough to be snapped apart.  In many cases, the glass will separate itself as it lays on the work surface.

The blue tool below is a pair of "running pliers".  By lining up the score line with the line on the pliers and applying gentle pressure, a straight line will snap evenly .. most of the time.  The glass is always the boss.

Below, scoring glass at a 90 degree angle.  The cutter makes a crunching sound as it moves along the glass.  Its not shown here, but I always rest the cutter against a ruler to be sure the straight lines are cut straight.

Wearing Staples rubber fingers and grinding a piece of the glass. 

Using cool water, I'm rinsing the glass.  I then towel dry each piece and place it onto the appropriate spot on the pattern.  I always try not to wash off the number on the glass.  For a project such as this, with so many similar pieces, placing the correct piece of glass in the correct place is essential.

I do my cutting production style, color by color.  I cut a batch, then grind a batch. Since I started with all the clear Artique glass, I have a stack of cut pieces on the upper right, separated by their patterns.  To prevent re-cutting, I always add a check mark to each pattern piece I've cut.  Then I place it into a separate envelope.

And here's another example of fitting pieces of glass together to maximize the glass usage.  There will always be pieces left over, most of which I keep.  Sometimes a small piece of glass is exactly what's needed.

Now all the clear Artique glass has been cut!  Notice that I've added a metal "fence" or "jig" around the perimeter of the pattern.  This will assure that the piece will be "square" and that the glass won't shift.  This photo represents about 1/3 of the glass already cut.  Most of the pieces were a perfect fit.  There is still some tweaking to be done, but I generally wait until adjoining pieces are in place before doing so.  (Click on the photo for a better view).
Next, I'll be cutting the glass to create some very realistic vegetables.  Stay tuned ..

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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