Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Octangonal Clear Powder Room Window - Soldered

There may be one more post after this one .. The window installed in its new home.  But this post will cover soldering, the application of patina, cleaning and waxing.  (Click on any photo to enlarge).

Below, I'm applying Canfield Technologies brand Liquid Solder-Mate Flux to the copper foil, using a metal craft brush.  These brushes tend to rust easily, so its a good idea to have a supply on hand.
 The next step is called "tack soldering".  I apply solder to the joints and randomly between the pieces of glass.
 After the entire front is tack soldered, its time to remove the "jig" or fence that's around the pieces.  Since they are now tack soldered, they will not shift.  After the jig is removed, the "cartoon" is carefully slid out from under the window.
   Here's the window, now fully soldered front and back. 
 My husband Eric takes over at this point, for the addition of a thin "channel" or metal frame around the perimeter of the window.  Below, he's taking measurements for the angle of channel to be cut.
Visible on the outer edge of the window is the thin zinc channel.  My husband places the fence back around the window to secure the channel to the window so that I can solder it without anything shifting.
 Below, I'm using a smaller width soldering iron to dab and smooth a bead of solder onto each of the 8 intersecting joints around the piece.
 On the back side of the window, I attach the lead lines directly to the frame for added strength.  I do not do this to the front for appearance reasons.
 The window feels (and is) considerably stronger now with the fully soldered front and back and the addition of the frame.  Here I'm washing it under warm water, using powdered cleanser and an old dish brush.  This will remove the flux and any stray Sharpie markings and beads of solder.
 After the window has thoroughly dried, I apply Novacan brand Black Patina to the zinc frame and to all of the solder lines, front and back.  Notice the bottle says "for solder and lead".  It works equally well on zinc frames.  There's no need to purchase the Novacan Patina "for zinc" .. This one product takes care of both zinc and solder.  The patina gets contaminated easily.  Always pour some into a cap and discard what isn't used rather than returning it to the bottle.  The patina works instantly.
Let it sit for 20 minutes or so, then bring the window back to the sink and rinse it with cool water.  Using a soft towel, wipe it down and allow it to dry thoroughly.
 After the window is completely dry, its time to wax it.  The wax gives the glass and bevels more shine and protects the patina.  Here I'm applying Clarity brand Stained Glass Finishing Compound which is a light carnauba wax.  Once it dries to a filmy white, buff it off with a soft rag.  Then go into the corners with Q-Tips and remove any wax which has gotten trapped there.
 And here is the finished window~!!  We hope to deliver it to its new home in the next few days.

Thank you Linda and Ed, for calling me in on this project!  It was a pleasure meeting you both .. I hope you enjoy your new window for many years to come!

Please visit my website (click here).  Two more projects await .. A lamp repair, followed by (possibly) another clear-with-bevels window.  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 me with your questions. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Octagonal Clear Powder Room Window - Copper foiling

Now that all the glass is cut, grinded and set in place, the next step is to apply self-adhesive copper foil around the edge of each piece.  For this window, I've chosen 3/16" black-backed foil. I think this width will show off the design to best advantage and black back is the foil of choice when using black patina on clear glass, as this project does.
Below, I'm applying the copper foil to the mid-point of the side of a piece of glass.  It takes some dexterity to do this but it gets easier over time.

 Here's a side view of a foiled piece of glass showing that when you look 'inside" the clear glass, you can see the "inside" of the foil, which is black.  After the window is soldered and black patina is applied, the copper foil will all but disappear.
 Below, I'm using a stiff plastic wand or "fid" to press the foil firmly onto the glass on all sides.  This prevents any flux or solder from getting under the foil.  Notice the yellow razor knife.  If the copper foil overlaps and leaves an uneven border, I use that knife to carefully trim away the excess.
 The strength of any stained glass project is dependent upon its design.  This window contains several straight lines that go from one side of the piece to the other.  These are called "hinges" and normally are to be avoided.  I included them in this piece because #1, they are an integral part of the design, and #2, I knew I could overcome any weakness in the window.
One thing I've done is to insert "braided wire" into the potentially weak spots.  The braided wire fits nicely and invisibly in between the pieces and serves to strengthen the overall piece.  The second thing I will do is to add a light metal frame around the entire piece.  It will not overpower the design but will ensure that the window will stay strong and sturdy for many many years to come. 
 I sign each of my stained glass pieces with my name, month and year of construction.  Since I engrave this into the glass, it is barely visible once the piece is completed.  I'm showing it here on a black background but when its in the piece, it virtually disappears.
 And here is the window, below, with all the pieces copper foiled. 
 Here's another view of the window, copper foiled and ready for soldering.  You may notice that I avoid adding copper foil to the outside perimeter.  This is to make the addition of a thin metal frame easier.  I've adjusted the size of the pattern very slightly to allow for the addition of the frame, which I will show in another update.
 Stay tuned .. Its coming into the home stretch now.  The next update will feature the soldering and framing process.

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.  Call me any time at 201-600-1616 or email with your questions. Thanks!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Octagonal Clear Powder Room Window - Glass cutting

Now that the pattern pieces have been traced, cut and organized, its time to cut the glass.
With stained glass that has a texture, such as the Waterglass and Granite glass used in this window, the pattern pieces must be positioned face down.  All cutting must be done on the flat, or un-patterned side of the glass.  Below, I'm using a fine point black Sharpie pen to outline the piece to be cut. (Click on any photo for a closer look).
 Below, I'm using a pistol grip cutter to score a line directly on top of the Sharpie line.  Cutting should be done at a 90 degree angle, with moderate, even pressure on the glass.  You'll hear a slightly crunchy sound as the blade moves over the glass.   I'm shooting this photo with my left hand but normally I'd be using that pale green ruler on the upper left of the photo to lean against the cutter to get a perfectly straight line.  For a window such as this one, with so many straight lines, use a ruler to score the lines.
Also note the green liquid in the handle of the cutter.  That is oil which keeps the cutting tip lubricated and helps the glass break evenly.
 After the score is made, I repeatedly tap firmly but gently along the line, using the brass stopper at the end of the cutter.  This helps the glass to crack and separate.  Sometimes the glass will crack on its own.  Otherwise, I use a tool (not shown) called "running pliers".  Positioned at the beginning of the score, it will split the glass as soon as slight pressure is applied.  Some glass requires more coaxing than others.  Don't rush it .. Eventually the glass will split.
 To save time, I generally cut glass in a production line fashion.  I do all the tracing and cutting at one time, then all the grinding.  Here I'm using a SuperStar II Grinder by Glastar to smooth down the edges of each cut piece of glass.  Grinding the glass is necessary of course, so that injury from sharp glass is minimized, but also to allow the adhesive copper foil to stick.  Copper foil will not stick properly to sharp, un-grinded glass.
For protection to my fingers, I'm wearing rubber fingers, available in several sizes at Staples Office Supplies.  Notice the purple sponge which is wicking water up from the base of the cutting surface.  The grinding wheel must be kept wet throughout the grinding process.  The reservoir below the cutting surface holds about 12 ounces of water.  I recommend adding about a tablespoon of Glastar's "E-Z Grind Advanced Formula Coolant" to the water.  It conditions the water, makes grinding easier, and lengthens the life of the grinding wheel.
Several times during the glass cutting process, I use a small wisk broom to sweep up any tiny shards of glass which inevitably land on the Homasote work surface.  Even a tiny shard caught under a larger piece of glass can cause it to crack, so its important to keep the work surface clear of debris.
 And below .. All of the glass is now cut and ready for copper foiling.  Now the textures of the glass and bevels can be seen.  This window is coming along beautifully!

Next, the process of adding copper foil to the glass, followed by the soldering process.  Stay tuned ...

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.  Call me any time at 201-600-1616 or email with your questions. Thanks!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Octagonal Clear Powder Room Window - Pattern making

For this commission, I was asked to design an octagonal window to replace one that had been in my customer's powder room for about 20 years.  My challenge was to create an original design which would coordinate with their new front doors, which are located near this window.  Here are their front doors as seen from inside their home.  Its a beautiful Frank Lloyd-esque design. (Click on any photo to enlarge)
Here's the octagon window and my design.   I combined the key elements of the door by duplicating the arched rows up top and the straight lines at the bottom.  I also will use the exact same glass as in the doors, clear Spectrum Waterglass and clear Spectrum Granite as well as 4 bevels, one rectangular and three square as shown in the computer rendition.  (Note that the glass in the computer rendition below appears to be gray .. It is clear).
Below, I've created the "cartoon" or full size pattern.  I will be building the window directly on top of this pattern.  Using a printout of the design as a guide, I'm numbering each piece and then labeling each one "WG" for Waterglass or "GN" for Granite.
 Whenever bevels are used in a project, the pieces nearby usually need to be adjusted.  For example, when I sized this pattern, I made a rough guess as to what size bevels I would need when the pattern was enlarged to actual size.  The 7" x 1-1/2" bevel shown below was a bit shorter.   No problem.  I simply re-sketched the line below the bevel and adjusted the pattern accordingly.  I did the same with the three 1-1/2" square bevels at the bottom.

Octagons can sometimes present an issue if each side is not exactly the same length.  Click here to read about another octagon we created in August, 2011.  In this case, though, we were fortunate in that our customers allowed us to use their former window as a guide for size.  Here I'm tracing the outer edge. 
 Creating the pattern pieces is an easy task now that I know that the measurements are all good.  I use old manila folders laying edge to edge and taped with clear tape.  Then I put down a layer of carbon paper to cover the manila folders.  The "cartoon" or pattern goes on top of that, with several pushpins inserted into the work surface so that nothing shifts during the tracing process.
My work surface is Homasote, a readily available sound-proofing material readily available at any Loew's or Home Depot.  It can be easily cut to size and is ideal for working with glass.  It accepts pushpins, and is flame retardant.
Waterglass has a definite horizontal/vertical pattern, below.  Granite glass has a definite pattern as well, but it is not specifically vertical or horizontal.
Below is part of the pattern, ready to be cut.  Notice the vertical squiggly lines on the pieces marked "WG" for Waterglass.   This pattern calls for the Waterglass to be cut vertically, so the squiggly lines will serve as a reminder to me when I begin cutting the glass.  With all stained glass projects, its important to always note the direction of the overall pattern of the glass itself.  In nearly every case, it is a key element of the design.

The outer edge of the manila pattern is cut with regular scissors ..
 The inside pieces must be cut with "pattern shears for foil".  They are double-bladed scissors which cut out a small amount of manila folder as shown below.  This serves to accommodate the copper foil which will be added to the glass later.
 Below, all of the patterns have been cut, separated by glass type, "WG" or "GN", and placed into re-purposed junk mail return envelopes.
 Next, each side of the octagon receives a border, fence or "jig" which will hold all the cut glass in place until it has all been completely soldered. 
In the next post, I'll show the glass cutting process.  This one's going to be a beauty!  Stay tuned ...

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.  Call me any time at 201-600-1616 or email with your questions. Thanks!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mission Lamp Repair

By coincidence, this lamp had the same issue as the lamp in the previous posting.  The shade became detached from the crown.  It didn't dawn on me until I started this repair that both of these lamps share a common origin, China.  Click here for more information regarding Chinese stained glass.

Both lamps are gorgeous, but as mentioned in the article cited, we don't know exactly what products are used, so it makes it tough to do a good repair.  This Quoizel lamp is only 12 years old.  It should have lasted much longer.

Here I go .. This view is the inside of the dome.  Notice that there is an opening between the black metal crown and the stained glass.  Two or three of the corners had become detached, making the lamp unusable.

Since the main connections from the metal crown to the glass were the four corners, I concentrated my efforts there.  I held the soldering iron down on one corner until the existing solder melted.  Once I got it to the melting point, it was an easy task to add more solder to re-attach and strengthen each corner.
I attempted to lay down a nice bead of solder to seal off that opening (See below), but the solder simply would not meld onto the existing metal.  This was the same issue encountered with the previous lamp.  I applied black patina to the corners and the side.
When I tested the strength of the dome, it was good and solid.  This repair should give many more years of life to the lamp.
 Here it is, back in service.  Thank you Judy for bringing your lamp to me for repair!
Here is a lovely thank you note from Judy ..
Hi Kathy,

We would like to thank you very much for the wonderful repair job you did on our stained glass Quoizel lamp shade.  We have two matching lamps and were very disappointed to find that one shade separated from the metal part that holds the lamp shade together.  Since these lamps are twelve years old, our chances of finding a matching replacement shade were not good.

We were absolutely delighted when you said you could repair the lamp shade and extra pleased when you did the repair so quickly.   You did a great job for which we thank you very much.

Judy and Steve

My next project is a commission .. An octagonal powder room window done in all clear glass with clear bevels.  The glass and materials are on their way.  Stay tuned to watch the upcoming process of constructing this window, start to finish.

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.  Call me any time at 201-600-1616 or email with you questions. Thanks!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Geometric Lamp Repair

This apparently easy-to-repair lamp threw me a curve when the simple soldering it appeared to require did not work.  See the novel way we took care of this repair:  (Click on any photo to enlarge):

The canopy on this lamp had become detached from the stained glass on this corner, as shown.  The piece of manila folder fit in between the pieces.
Seen from inside the lamp dome.
My first instinct was just to solder the crack but the solder would not melt at temperature, which was unusual.  It seems that the crown was absorbing all of the heat.  Therefore, the solder was not effective in bonding the crown to the lamp itself.

To make for a nice appearance inside the dome, though, I took the time to patina the solder using Black Novacan Patina as shown.

As soon as I discovered that the solder was not an effective bond, we tried using black silicone glue.  Again, it was not strong enough to adhere the crown to the shade.

After more thought, and a call to the customer with an update, I purchased some 16 gauge flat black wire and laced it between the holes in the crown.  I then carefully bent it over the edge of the interior.  As it turns out, there is another piece (not shown) which fits over the crown, so that the wires will not show.

I thoroughly cleaned the interior of flux, using powdered cleanser and an old dish brush.
And here's the result.  As mentioned, there is another piece which fits over the crown, so the wires will not be seen.  It was a novel repair, but it seems like we learn something new with every one we do!

Thank you, Sue and Paul, for finding me and allowing me to give you many more years of enjoyment with your beautiful lamp!

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.  Call me any time .. 201-600-1616 or email with you questions. Thanks!