Friday, January 25, 2013

Waterglass Ribbon Window Repair Completed

Since my last post, I've been busy cross-hatching, tapping and removing cracked pieces and then preparing patterns, cutting, grinding, foiling and re-soldering new pieces.  All told, 37 pieces of cracked glass were replaced on this window.  Here are the final steps ...

Below, all of the repairs have been made and the window has been soldered on both sides.  I've laid the window on the tile floor on top of rubberized shower mats.  Then I've sprinkled on powdered cleanser and, using an old dish brush, sponge and bucket of water, I scrubbed and washed both sides.  This removed any stray Sharpie markings and small beads of solder, as well as the caustic flux used in soldering.

Below, the window is rinsed in the sink.

 And here it is, repaired and soldered, ready for its new frame.

 You'll recall that this window originally had a thin wood frame around the thin channel border, which we removed.  Our customers wanted stronger metal channel framing installed instead. Below you can see the original thin channel border alongside a piece of the thicker, more sturdy channel.
For structural purposes, the best way to substitute a stronger channel instead of a weaker one is to install it right over it.  Below, Eric is using a Dremel sanding tool to flattem down beads of solder to make it easier to install the strong channel.
Below you can see the stronger channel in place, held in by a metal fence or "jig".  While the jig is in place, I add a bead of solder to each corner of the frame on the front of the piece.  Then I carefully lifted the window out of the frame, turned it over, set it back inside the frame and soldered all of the back side lead lines to the frame.  This assures that the frame will be firmly attached and it leaves a cleaner finish to the front side.  I also soldered on two hanging hooks to outer corners of the back of the frame.

Here, I'm brushing all of the solder lines, both the old and the new, with black Novacan patina.  After the lead lines are done, I applied patina to the metal frame. Then, I turned the piece over again and applied patina to the entire back side and the frame, followed by rinsing in cool water.

After the patina is dry, I applied Stained Glass Finishing Compound, which is a light carnauba wax, to both sides of the window and frame.  This brings out the shine of the glass and the solder and protects them.  It won't need any further attention other than an occasional dusting.

And below is the repaired window!  We hope our customers will enjoy it again, for many years to come!   Thank you Jerry and Jeanne!
My next project is a lamp repair, starting shortly.  In the meantime, please visit my website (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.  Thanks!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Waterglass Ribbon Window Pattern Cutting and Soldering

Now that over a dozen (actually 16) pieces of cracked glass have been scored and removed, its time to prepare the open spaces for new glass.  Below, I'm using the hot soldering iron and applying pressure at the midpoint between the layers of copper foil so that only the foil which was on the cracked piece will be pulled away.  I'm holding the entire window at an angle, to allow the melting solder and bits of foil to drip down.  (Click on any image to enlarge)
Here's an open piece, with the copper foil still intact on all surrounding pieces.  If the copper foil happens to come off, it will be necessary to apply new foil.  It saves time though to try and keep the older foil in place.  As long as the older copper foil is in good condition and the solder covers it, there should be no compromise in the strength of the window.
Below, to make a pattern for the new piece of glass, I've laid a piece of manila folder under the open space and outlined it in pencil.  Each new piece of glass needs its own pattern, even if pieces appear to be the same size.  Take my word for it, they never are.

Below, I'm placing a pattern piece into the open space, just to be sure it will be a good fit.  Glass is not flexible.  Within reason, each piece has to fit perfectly.  Notice that I've lightly marked an arrow in the center of the pattern piece.  This shows the direction of the waterglass.  Waterglass has a definite texture and in this window, each piece has been cut and soldered in a vertical format.  Therefore, all the replacement pieces must also be cut vertically.
(See below) To cut a curve, the first step is to score a straight line from high point to high point using a pistol grip (or other) glass cutter.  Then, applying pressure with running pliers (blue, below) the piece "should" snap along that line.  Then, the curve can be cut using groziers, another stained glass tool pictured below.

 Below, using grozier pliers to snap off a small piece of glass which has been scored with a glass cutter.

After the glass is cut, it is grinded on each side.  The purple sponge shown here is wicking water up from a reservoir under the grinding surface.  The spinning grinder should always be wet.  I'm wearing rubber finger tips purchased at Staples to guard against cuts and to keep a firm grip on the glass.  After grinding, each piece of glass is rinsed with water and dried.
Next, the adhesive copper foil is applied to the center of the edges of each piece.  (See first photo below). Since this window was built using 7/32" foil, I'm using the same width. Notice that I am using "black back" foil.  Since most of the glass in this window is clear and the patina is black, the black back foil is the correct choice because it will show through at the edges of the clear pieces. (Copper foil is also available in copper back and silver back, depending on the color of the patina.)

Next, the copper foil is pressed onto the glass using a flexible plastic wand or "fid".  Its important not to allow any chemicals or solder to get under the foil.

Each new piece of glass must be soldered in at the same level as the other pieces.  Below, I've got my hand below the window to position the new piece in place.  Notice that I've also added some blue painter's tape along the edges.  This is to hold the glass at the proper level, and also to prevent solder from leaking through.

Above, I'm applying liquid flux to the copper foil so that the solder will adhere properly. Notice that I have a magazine underneath, to flatten out the window due to those 3 faceted cabochons mentioned in the previous post.
Below, the new piece of glass has been soldered on three sides.  Notice that the piece on the left is cracked.  Since it will be replaced, I am not soldering that side of the new piece.  Keeping the copper foil un-soldered will make it much easier to solder it to the piece next to it, when it is added later.

A special note about corner and side pieces, below.  It takes a bit of skill and patience to replace cracked glass which falls along the sides or corner of a window such as this.  First, follow the "every other" rule and only remove every other piece, to keep the window sturdy.  As explained in the earlier post, never remove two cracked pieces that are side by side.  You will have no guideline for the patterns and you risk having the piece collapse.
For the side pieces, carefully pull out all the old solder and foil from inside the "channel" or metal framing.  You may need to wedge the soldering iron in there to melt any leftover material. Be careful not to stretch open the channel.  Trace the replacement glass as above, but add just a little more to the sides where it will be slid into the channel.  
In the photo below, I removed the corner piece of glass, made a pattern, cut the new piece and put it in place by sliding it down into the corners of the channel.  Then I cut the second piece, then the third, following the same format.  I taped the three pieces and soldered each one in place.  
Notice too, that I temporarily added a metal "fence" at the bottom.  This serves to press the channel into the glass and keep the side straight.  I've also temporarily placed a "fence" at the opposite side of the window to ensure that the piece maintains its "squareness".  I solder each lead line to the frame, for stability. Both fences are removed immediately after the solder cools.

 And here's the window as of today.    I've removed and replaced 16 clear waterglass pieces and have 19 more to do.  (That's 13 more clear waterglass pieces and 6 pale purple and medium purple waterglass pieces).  Almost there!  Stay in touch.

In the meantime, please visit my website (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.  Thanks!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Waterglass Ribbon Window Repair

 This series of posts will demonstrate the repair of a beautiful custom stained glass window which suffered extensive damage.  Almost one-third of its pieces were broken in a fall. Since it was created using primarily waterglass (the clear and the pale purples), I've named it the "Waterglass Ribbon Window". Here's the "before" photo, with the broken pieces marked by someone else, before it came to me.  Notice all the red numbers, black X's and silver dots.  (Click any photo to enlarge).

Below are two close-up photos of the cracked pieces.

The window is framed in a thin channel, but fortunately, it is also framed in wood.  The extra reinforcement of the wood frame saved it from being destroyed beyond repair.

In order to effectively repair any stained glass window, it must be laying flat.  Notice (below) that this window has 3 inset faceted cabochons which protrude on both the front and back sides.  While these are lovely accents, they make it necessary to place something like a magazine under the window as its being worked on.

First, my husband Eric removed the existing wood frame.  The next step is to start removing the cracked pieces.  When doing an extensive repair like this, it is necessary to plan out which pieces to remove and in what sequence.  For structural purposes, I am removing every other cracked piece, replacing them, and then going back to remove the pieces in between.  It is not advisable to remove two side-by-side pieces.  It will weaken the entire window and could cause it to collapse.

Below, I'm using a pistol grip glass cutter to score a cracked piece using a cross-hatch pattern.  For several of the pieces, I needed to carefully turn the window over and score it on the opposite side as well.

Using the brass end of the pistol grip cutter, I tap solidly in the center of the piece until it begins to crack.  

Below, glass pieces as they break out of the window.

After most of the glass is broken out, I use needle-nose pliers to pull out the remaining shards.  Throughout this process, its always a good idea to wear an apron and eye protection.  Glass can go flying in any direction.  Its important to keep a clean work surface throughout this process.  Below, I'm sweeping up the sharp glass pieces and disposing them.
Below, I've removed about a dozen pieces of cracked glass.

Here's an "inside view" of two of the pieces I've removed.  
The following posts will demonstrate the removal of the solder around the cracked pieces.  Then I'll show the pattern making process followed by the cutting, grinding, foiling and replacement of the new pieces.  Stay tuned!

In the meantime, please visit my website (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.  Thanks!