Monday, September 30, 2013

Stained Glass Vegetable Kitchen Panel - Copper Foiling, Soldering, Framing

As of the last posting, all of the glass had been cut for this beautiful 37" x 22" vegetable-themed panel which will soon be installed into our customers' newly renovated kitchen.  This posting will cover the copper foiling, soldering and framing process.  Here goes .. Click on any photo to enlarge.

 Copper foiling glass requires some manual dexterity and it involves turning each piece repeatedly as the foil is applied.  Since I am working with pieces now which are clear and have similar shapes, I wanted to be sure that each piece was replaced into the pattern into the right orientation.  An upside down diamond may not fit as well as one that is placed "right side up."  Therefore, as I removed each clear piece, I marked it with a symbol to let me know which side is the top and which side faces left.

There are several widths of self-adhesive copper foil and a few different "interior" colors, copper, silver and black.  For this project, I chose to use 7/32" for its thickness and strength and I chose "black back" foil because I will be applying black patina later.  Using black back foil on all the clear glass assures that the interior of the foil will "disappear" when the solder seams are also black.  You can see the black interior of the foil through the clear glass, below.
 Below, I'm using a (new style) "fid" or plastic roller to press the foil down onto the glass.  This assures that no chemicals or liquids will work their way under the foil and compromise its strength.
 Since this is a rather large panel, I've randomly but purposefully inserted lengths of "Re-Strip".  This is a strong, flat, copper wire of sorts which fits in between the foiled pieces.  You can see a piece inserted below.  (You may need to click and enlarge the photo.) I also added a different reinforcement , braided copper wire, to several horizontal areas, such as the length of the eggplant and around the tomato, etc.  Even though the panel will be securely soldered to a strong metal frame, the reinforcing wire will add to the strength.
 While applying copper foil, sometimes it will overlap at the end point.  This will create an unsightly line when the solder is applied.  Below, I'm using a razor knife to angle out the overlap and make a smooth line.
 Every one of my custom designs gets my signature.  Here I'm etching my name and date into the lower right hand piece of the panel.  It will be barely noticeable when the panel is installed.

And here is the panel, fully foiled and ready for the next step which is tack soldering.
 Below, I'm applying Canfield Blu-Glass liquid flux to the all of the places where the pieces intersect.  The flux is a wetting agent which interacts with the solder for a smooth fusing.  The solder will clump and stick without the flux.  This particular brand is less toxic than others on the market.
 Below, you'll notice that I've lightly soldered all the intersections of the front of the panel.  The panel will remain flat and face up until the entire front is fully soldered.  Notice that the "fence" or "jig" is still surrounding the panel as I work.
 At this point, I'm able to remove the jig, since all of the pieces have been joined.  Then I slide out the "cartoon" or the paper pattern to protect it from the chemicals which will follow.
 Now I'm in full solder mode, wearing my protective 3M breathing mask against the fumes.  To achieve good solder lines, the solder is laid against the iron and then it flows onto the fluxed copper foiled seams.  I'm using 60/40 (lead/tin) Avril brand solder which is consistent and flows easily.
 After the front side is soldered, it gets sprayed with Kwik-Clean Flux and Solder Remover, then toweled off.
 And here's the panel with the front completely soldered. 
 At this point my husband Eric measures and cuts zinc metal "channel" and miters the corners for a perfect fit around the perimeter of the panel.

After Eric attaches the frame around the border, he re-installs the fence to hold it in place.  At this point, I return and solder the lead lines directly to the frame.  In this way, it is securely fastened to the frame at multiple points all around which adds again to the strength of the panel.

 After the panel is securely attached to the frame, I remove the fence and begin the application of the Novacan Black Patina.  Although there are two separate patina products, one for the solder and one for the zinc frame, only one product is needed.  The patina for the solder works fine on the zinc, turning the fame and solder black instantly,  I let it set for a bit, then I apply patina to the other side of the panel. Then I spray Kwik-Clean on both sides and towel dry it.  After the panel is dry on both sides, I apply Clarity Stained Glass Finishing Compound with a rag.  This product is a light wax which protects the solder and the patina and gives the glass a beautiful shine.
 Here's a close up of the vegetables, photographed against the white wall of my studio.
 A close up ..
 Another close up ..
To recap, here is my original photo, the computer rendition, and below, the finished panel ..

And here it is!  I look forward to seeing Bob and Georgeann's reaction when they see their panel "in person" tonight.  Thank you so much for this wonderful collaboration .. I enjoyed every minute!
Here's an update .. Photos of the panel installed in the newly renovated kitchen.  Our customer did a beautiful job of installing it with a wood frame above the stove.

 Here is the view from the other side ..
 The window below, on the right, was the reference window which features fruit.  Paintings created by my customers and their fathers will be soon be added to the walls.  This is a wonderful example of what collaboration between artists can "produce".  I'm so pleased with the final result!

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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