Saturday, October 19, 2013

Rug Design in Stained Glass - Glass cut, copper foiling begun

Work on the 19" x 42" rug design stained glass window is moving along well.  Today I completed cutting all of the glass.  Here's the process and a few more photos and notes about the work involved.  Click on any photo to enlarge.

 Whenever I'm handing glass that I'm cutting or grinding, I always wear these on my fingers.  They are Swingline brand Rubber Fingers, found at Staples in two or three different sizes.

Below, I've hand cut the borders of six pieces of the Mystic Green/Amber glass.  The curves marked in silver Sharpie will be cut by the Gryphon Omni Saw.  I've been cutting the glass in small batches, around 8-12 pieces at a time, by color.  Some get started on the saw, some get started by hand.

 Below is a small batch of pieces that I first cut with the saw, and am getting ready to trim by hand.  When I use the saw, as mentioned previously, I coat each line with lip balm so that the water from the machine does not wash off my markings.  Here I'm cleaning off a piece of glass.  I'll re-mark the pieces of glass before hand trimming each one.  It's fine to hand cut first them trim with the saw, or vice versa.  I make the decision on each piece of glass, primarily depending on the complexity of the cut.

Here are some background Amber Artique pieces after they've been cut with the saw.  The rubber fingers come in handy to keep a firm grip on them, since they are slippery with lip balm and water (and sharp).
 And here they are, cleaned and trimmed and grinded, and ready to be placed onto the pattern.
 The beginnings of the completion of the final pane, showing some background Artique, some dark Cathedral brown (stems) and some Red/Amber Waterglass.  At this point there are about 60 more pieces left to cut. 

 Below, all 470 pieces of glass have been cut for the six panes and the Dark Brown/Amber glass mullions are in place.  Notice that the aluminum fence or "jig" is still around the entire border.  This will remain there to keep the pieces in place until after the window is completely copper foiled and tack soldered.  Note that I still have my full-color guide on the wall next to the window as I work, as another reference for the placement of the colors.
 Now that all of the glass has been cut and trimmed, the next step is to apply the self-adhesive copper foil to each of the 470 pieces.  Because this is a large piece with many small pieces, I've decided to use 13/64" wide foil for this window.  Its a little bit thinner than the more commonly used 7/32" foil, but it will let the smaller pieces allow more light through them.  It will also make the window weigh slightly less because less solder will be used.  Since the window will be reinforced (more on that later), thinner foil will not compromise its strength.
Below, I'm carefully encircling the outer edge of a piece of the Artique glass, pressing it onto the edge of the glass as I go.  Notice that the interior of this foil is black.  I've chosen black back foil because I'll be applying black patina when all the soldering is done.  This will make the foil basically invisible when the window is completed.
 Another view showing the black foil through the glass.
 Below, I'm using a "fid" or flexible plastic wand to press the foil onto the glass, on all sides.  This prevents any liquid or chemicals from working their way underneath.

 Throughout the process of copper foiling, I will continue to evaluate the fit of each piece of glass. I will trim or re-cut any pieces that I feel are not a good fit. Since I have 469 pieces to foil, this will take some time .. But I'll be back soon with the window foiled and ready for soldering.  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!


  1. Gorgeous piece! I am a fellow stained glass artist and I just found your blog today while looking for a template of Van Gogh's Starry Night. I will look through your posts to learn some of your techniques. I took a class once and have learned the craft on my own (trial and errors and books). My first real piece was a 150 piece mandala (mostly what I like to do), but I've cut everything by hand and I'd like to try a Gryphon saw. Do you have any videos posted on using one? I may try Youtube. Great job on your pieces, I like your choices and they look very clean and well done (fitting, soldering,beading).

  2. Adriana, Thank you for the compliments! I'm pleased that my blogs are helpful to you. The Gryphon saw, as I've mentioned, is very loud and a bit intimidating. But it can do cuts that are not do-able by hand. If you haven't found any YouTube videos, you might contact Delphi Glass for assistance. That's where my husband purchased mine.
    Best of luck to you!