Thursday, February 28, 2013

Beveled Candle Holder Repair

In this post, with photos and narrative, I'll show the repair of a pretty 18" candle holder made with clear bevels.  Its mate is shown above it, a smaller version of the candle holder which is in good condition.  I used this as my construction guide for the repair.  The candle holder came to me in pieces as shown below.  Over time, the copper foil lost its adhesiveness and the item eventually collapsed. (Click on any photo to enlarge).
 The candle holder is soldered at the center of the "star", or the point where the six long bevels join.  It is also soldered at the top of each bevel, where it meets the seam of the holder on top.  Since the foil on the center side of each long bevel had deteriorated, I first removed all of that.  Some of it came off easily by hand ..

 Some of it had to be pulled off with needle-nose pliers ...
 And some of it had to be removed with a razor knife.
 After all the old foil was removed from the center side, I removed most of the old adhesive using Goo Gone.  It took about 3 applications and some rubbing to get it loose enough to remove.

 After the Goo Gone worked its magic, I went over the areas with a clean paper towel.

When doing any stained glass repair, it is essential to use the same width of copper foil as was used originally.  Once I removed a full section of the foil, I saw that it was the most common width, 7/32nd of an inch.
 Since this solder on the candle holder remained silver, I used silver-backed foil.  As shown, the self-adhesive foil is then placed in the center of the side of each bevel.

  Then the copper foil is flattened to the glass using a flexible plastic wand or "fid".
At this point, all the interior sides of the long bevels have been re-foiled.
 Below, I've marked each bevel with an arrow to indicate the new foil.
 Now, I'm applying liquid flux to the new foil.
 Here I'm "tinning" the borders.  This is a simple process whereby you can use those old beads of solder or flakes from other projects.  Just touch the hot soldering iron to the bead until it melts and "paint" it over the foil.
 Three dimensional objects such as this are always a challenge because you must figure out a way to re-construct the piece temporarily which will allow you to solder it on a horizontal plane.  Below, I used the "good" candle holder to make a cardboard template to show the spacing of the long bevels relative to each other.  I then cut out the triangles.

 At this point, my ingenious husband took over and, using my triangle templates, made a custom holder out of balsa wood.  
 See below how the bevels are held in place with triangles of balsa wood which are glued to a square base.  Three rubber bands serve to strengthen the piece temporarily while I complete the soldering process.
 With the balsa wood supporting frame in place, here I'm adding a bead of solder to the inner part of the "star" formed by the long bevels.  Notice that I'm using a much smaller soldering iron now, which is better suited for the deep, sharp angle I wish to bond together.
 After I soldered the inner joints of the candle holder, here it is, standing up beside its mate.
 Below I'm joining the top piece of the candle holder which is made of 3" bevels.  Each of the corners are soldered in turn around the top of the piece.
 For added strength, I'm adding more solder to the center of the star, top and bottom.
 Then, the entire piece gets a careful wash in the utility sink, using powdered cleanser and an old dish brush.  This process washes away the caustic flux and any stray solder which may have landed on the glass.
 After the piece has dried, I applied stained glass finishing compound (a light wax) to the newly soldered areas.

And the final touch, new felt feet.

 This was an enjoyable repair and something a bit different than the usual lamp or window.  Thank you Nancy, for entrusting it to my care.  I appreciate it and hope you will now enjoy it for many more years to come!

Please visit my website (click here). Its now smart phone compatible!  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 .. 201-600-1616 or email with you questions. Thanks!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Primrose Lamp Repair

This lovely little lamp had a tussle with a curious cat and came out of it with 5 cracked pieces.  Below, with photos and narrative, is the story of its repair.  (Click on any photo to enlarge).
Seen here are 3 cracked amber pieces and two green pieces below them.

The first step is to score one of the broken pieces with a glass cutter.  Here I'm using a pistol grip cutter to the inside of the lamp.  I keep tapping on the glass until pieces start to break out.  Sometimes both sides needs to be scored.

At this point, all the cracked glass in the one segment has been cracked out.
Here I'm assessing the luminosity of the broken out piece, to choose the best match for the replacement glass.  Spectrum light amber with white was the match, which I had in my inventory.

Here I'm using needle-nose pliers to pull off the old solder.  Sometimes the adhesive is so old it will come off very easily.  Other times, it needs some encouragement.

Above I'm using a hot soldering iron to help melt off the remaining old foil and solder.

At this point, I've made two manila folder patterns by tracing the openings in the now-missing pieces.  I've taped them to the inside of the lamp, to assure that the glass cut from them will be a good fit.  Manila folders are a great weight for patterns.  I always have some on hand.

Aside from matching the glass correctly, its important to use the same width of copper foil that was used on the original lamp.  See above that 3/16th" is the correct size for this project.  (Top piece was removed from the lamp).

Above are my pistol grip cutter, silver Sharpie (black would work just as well) and the outlined piece of glass using the pattern made from an old manila folder.

After cutting each piece, it gets grinded on all sides with the electric grinder.  The purple sponge is wicking up water from the reservoir at the base of the cutting surface.  The spinning grinder must be kept wet.  I'm wearing rubber finger protectors, available at Staples, to protect myself from cuts and to keep a firm grip on the glass.

After the new piece is cut, grinded, rinsed and dried, adhesive copper foil is applied to the center of the entire outer edge.  Here I'm using a plastic wand or "fid" to press the copper onto the glass on all sides.

The first piece of glass (on the right) has been replaced.  Here, I'm holding the second pattern in place to assure a good fit.

And now the second panel has been replaced and is ready for soldering.  Notice that I've added blue tape to the bottom edge.  I won't solder that edge yet, since that dark green piece will be removed.  It will be easier to remove it if it is not soldered to the neighboring piece.

Now the second piece has been soldered and I've cracked out the third piece.  Note that I"m keeping the blue tape there as a reminder not to solder that bottom edge.  The light green piece is also cracked and will be removed shortly.

Here's the view inside the dome, with two amber pieces replaced and a pattern piece resting in the spot where the third piece will go.  Again, I'm just re-fitting for size before I cut the glass.

Now all three amber pieces have been replaced and I'm working on the darker green piece on the left.  Notice that I've outlined the outer edge of the piece as a guide.  I did the same on the piece to the right, making two patterns, cutting two piece of glass and soldering both of them in place.

When all the soldering is completed, the entire window gets washed with powdered soap and an old dish brush.  Then its allowed to dry completely.

At this stage, the lamp is fully dried and soldered.  I'm now applying Novacan Black Patina with a craft brush to the solder lines.  This product reacts with the solder, turning it black instantly.  After letting the patina sit for a while, I rinsed the lamp in cool water and let it dry completely.  Then I applied Stained Glass Finishing Compound to the entire window, inside and out.  This Compound is similar to a light car wax and serves to bring out the shine in the glass and protect the patina and the solder.

And here is the result!  The owners of the lamp were very happy with the results.  Thank you, Frank and Cookie!  It was a pleasure repairing this for you.
Here's a lovely thank you note!

Hi Kathy,
I just wanted to send you a note to tell you how pleased I am with the repair of our lamp; it looks absolutely beautiful!!!! I do not know if Frank told you but it has sentimental value to me & I was very upset when it got broken. Thank you so much for the wonderful job!!!!!!


If you have a copper-foiled lamp or window that needs repairs, now would be a great time to call me at 201-600-1616.  We'll begin by looking at your emailed photos so I can assess the damage and give you a no-obligation quote.  And if you have an idea for a custom window, by all means, let me help by recommending patterns and glass to get your project underway.

Please visit my website (click here). Its now smart phone compatible!  And if you are on FaceBook, become a fan and I'll keep you up to date on all my stained glass projects.  Thanks!