Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Stained Glass Vegetable Kitchen Panel - Glass Cutting

The vegetable panel is well underway.  As I've been working on it for  the past few days, I've been studying my palette of colors, deciding which shade of what color glass to use for each vegetable.  Cutting the clear Artique glass for the background went quickly since there were no decisions to be made.  All clear, all good.

But when it comes to making a "painterly" panel out of glass, its another matter.  It takes time and a large inventory of glass from which to choose.  This panel features about 25 different colors.  My great grandfather was the Impressionist painter William Robson .. I hope he would approve of my choices.  My customers are very creative and their fathers are also artists, so I have a great deal of inspiration from which to draw!  Here goes .. (Click on any photo to enlarge).

Some of the glass I chose for this design is in limited supply in my inventory.  Or the pattern pieces would create too much waste if I cut them by hand.  Therefore, I made use of my very loud, and somewhat intimidating, Gryphon Omni II Diamond Wire Saw.  It makes intricate cuts which are not possible by hand.  Here is "the Beast".

In order to keep the wire saw cool during use, a steady trickle of water is drawn up from the reservoir beneath the cutting surface and onto the glass.  To prevent my pattern markings from washing off, I coat them with inexpensive lip balm as shown below.

This is a powerful machine which will snap glass which is too close to the edge.  Therefore, I always stop it about this far from the edge.  I turn off the machine, back the blade out through the cut, and then snap that small area with running pliers.

Below is a good illustration of how the machine pours water onto the glass as its cutting.  One advantage is that if I cut on the exact border, it also grinds the glass which saves me that step later.

Glass which is wet and covered in lip balm is messy and slippery.  I always use caution when removing the pieces from the machine.  Glass can break at any time.  I don't consider it "safe" until its cut, grinded, and on top of its proper spot on the pattern.

As mentioned before, deciding colors for a realistic scene such as the vegetable arrangement requires thoughtful consideration of glass choices.  At several points in the process, I brought possible choices outdoors in natural light to be sure the colors are in the same family and work well together in terms of shading and texture.  Here are a few potential purples which I used for the eggplant.

And here I'm considering various greens for the eggplant leaves, the pepper, and the leaves on the right and left side.  I've heard that the human eye can detect more shades of green than any other color.  If you mix in different textures and levels of luminosity, and you can see why this is a tough process.  But once I made each choice and cut the glass, I was happy with the results.  I only replaced and re-cut two shades of one color.

No matter how exact a pattern is drawn, its generally necessary to trim glass in order to make it fit properly.  Glass is very black and white that way.  It either fits, or it doesn't.  Below, this piece of amber at the top of the tomato is too large on the left side.  I've overlaid it onto the orange-red piece to the left and traced the edge onto it.

Notice the black line on the outer edge of the orange, next to the #5 piece.

Using grozier pliers, I clip off the end of the glass at the line.  Then I re-grind it, rinse it off and replace it onto the pattern.

Now it fits perfectly.  This process needs to be repeated often throughout the glass-cutting process.  The pieces should fit snugly, but not tightly.  They need some "breathing room" to accommodate the copper foil but they can't fir so tightly that the soldering process causes them to crack.

Almost done .. Below, I'm cutting leaf pieces for the right and left sides of the design, using a beautiful shade of green Baroque glass.  I chose this glass because it has depth and movement and several shades of green. I also added a few pieces of a compatible green, for variety and realism.

Below, once again is my photograph, for reference.

And here is the glass, all cut and ready for copper foiling.  (Camera not cooperating today .. Posting two images to compensate).  It looks far better "in person" .. And the true colors won't be seen until after the panel is soldered and lifted off the work surface and into the light .. 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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