Friday, December 13, 2013

Floral Border Lamp Repair

This lamp was created by my customer's father and thus has sentimental value.  She found it among his belongings and is unsure of how it broke, but it sustained major damage.  See below the steps I used to repair it like new again .. Click on any photo to enlarge.

The photo below shows two of the three sides which have large pieces missed and cracked, as well as two pieces at the crown of the lamp.

One side was so badly hit that the solder was crushed.

A closer look at damage sustained to the two pieces at the crown.

After assessing the damage, I began the repair by removing all the glass within select sections as shown.

Next, I use a hot soldering iron to melt off any old solder or copper foil from the border.  Then I place a piece of manila folder beneath the lamp and trace the opening.  This becomes the pattern piece for the replacement glass.

 Below, I'm using a pistol grip glass cutter at a 90 degree angle to the glass, cutting in a straight line at the upper border.  If my right hand were not holding the camera, I'd be bracing the ruler with that hand.  The ruler is essential to assure a straight cut. To snap the glass, I use a pair of "running pliers".

 Below, I've cleaned off all the debris from the border of the opening.  In this case, I used a razor knife to remove old adhesive.

 Here I'm using a thin, stiff brush to clean out more of the debris.  A clean surface is essential to a strong bond.

Below, I'm pressing 7/32" self-adhesive copper foil onto the bottom border of the opening.  I'll use a "fid" or flexible plastic wand to press the foil into place on all three sides.

After each piece of glass is cut, I bring it to the grinder to smooth down all the edges.  This makes the glass safer to handle. It also helps the copper foil to adhere correctly.  Notice the purple sponge which wicks water from the reservoir under the cutting surface.  This keeps the grinding wheel cool.  I add a water conditioner to the water in the reservoir to slow down the wear on the grinding wheel.  I also wear rubber fingers, found in any Staples store.  These protect my fingers from the sharp glass and help to keep a firm grip on the glass.

Now the new piece is placed inside the lamp.  Here I'm applying liquid flux to the copper foiled joints, using a metal acid brush.  The flux is a wetting agent which enables the solder to flow properly on top of the copper foil.

I've placed the entire lamp into a large box filled with packing peanuts.  Then I adjust the lamp so that the surface is perpendicular to the floor.  Then I solder the copper foil.

When one side is completely repaired, I repeat the process for each of the cracked and broken pieces on the remaining two sides of the lamp.

When adding copper foil to a square or rectangular area, I use a razor knife to cut into the corner.  This makes for a better fit and a neater application of the solder.

Below, I'm replacing two pieces of glass at once.  I'm using wire cutters to snip off the large lengths of old solder and copper foil.

Here are two new pieces of glass which I created from the patterns.  I've soldered them together as shown, so that they can be added to the piece together.

Shown below are the two pieces of glass ready to be soldered  Notice that I did not add copper foil to the piece on the right side of these two.  The reason is because its cracked.  Its going to be replaced, and it will be easier to remove it if it is not bonded to the adjoining piece.

After the three damaged sides were repaired, I turned my attention to the two top crown pieces.  Here I'm using a heated soldering iron to melt and remove old solder and copper foil.  I've already removed the old glass and solder with needle nose pliers.

Using a razor knife, I'm cleaning off the remaining adhesive from the surfaces where the new pieces will be added.

Below, I've made a paper patten and am trying it on for size before cutting the glass.  Its a perfect fit.

Now the two pieces of glass in the crown have been tack soldered.  I will go in and fully solder them.

Now the three sides and the crown have been repaired.  Now I'm removing cracked pieces at the bottom of one corner to prepare for their replacement.   There were a few pieces of green glass and one piece of white which needed attention.  Below I've removed the cracked pieces and added new copper foil to one border.
Of the three pieces below, two are replacements and one was an original, undamaged piece.  I decided to solder them together as a unit and replace them as a unit.  I've attached them to wide painter's tape which I'll tape to the inside of the lamp as a support when I solder them in place.

The above three pieces are soldered as shown below.  Now I'm working on the pieces on the opposite corner.  Two pieces were re-cut and replaced in this corner.  And that completes the glass repair process.

 I've been giving the lamp frequent cleanings as I worked.  This is a good idea because flux is very caustic and therefore a health hazard to use.  I always wear breathing protection when I flux or solder.  Here I'm applying black Novacan patina to all of the newly soldered areas. This chemical instantly turns the silver solder black.  After its allowed to set, I clean it all off again.

Since this lamp is very old, we noticed that the light socket had deteriorated to the point where it would have been unsafe to use.  Since my father was a volunteer fireman (35 years) and Eric's father was an electrician, we always check the safety of the electrical fittings before returning them to the owners.  Eric installed a new socket and a length of new wire to the lamp.

As the final step in the lamp repair process, I cover the lamp with Livia Stained Glass Polish. This serves to give the glass a nice shine.  It also protects the patina and the solder.  Aside from an occasional light dusting, this lamp will not need any maintenance.

And here are two photos of the finished lamp!  Thank you Ann, for finding me, and for entrusting your father's lamp to my care.  It was a pleasure repairing it for you.  May you enjoy it for many, many more years!
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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