Friday, February 21, 2014

Replacing Ring onto Stained Glass Lamp

This pretty stained glass lamp came to me with the ring partially detached.  Here are the steps I took to not only repair it, but strengthen it as well.  (Click on any photo to enlarge).

Here is the lamp.  Its a beauty, made with opalescent glass with a floral pattern.  All the glass was in fine condition, but the ring had started to separate from the body of the lamp.

Below, I've carefully pulled up on the ring to remove it entirely from the lamp.  In order to do the repair, its necessary to completely reconstruct the original method of building the lamp.
 In order to assure a firm bond, all of the old copper foil and solder must be removed.  Here I'm using needle nose pliers to pull off the old foil and solder.
 Now the ring has been removed and cleaned.  Below, I'm carefully tugging off the old foil and solder from the outer edge of the border glass which surrounded the ring.
 The next step, is to scrape off the old adhesive left behind by the copper foil.  Here I'm using a razor knife to scrape it off.  I also use a generic de-greasing spray as well as Goo Gone.
 About half of the border glass had become loosened when the ring started to detach.  Here I've removed the first loose piece.  I've labeled it "out" to signify that the piece needs to face out when its replaced later.
 Now I've removed five pieces of loose border glass, cleaned them with the razor knife, de-greaser and Goo Gone.  I've also added fresh 7/32 copper foil to the edges of each piece as shown.  Note that they are also numbered now, so I can replace them in the same sequence.
 And here's the top of the lamp, with six pieces of border glass removed and the edges cleaned.  The remaining six pieces were still firmly attached.  There was no need to remove them.
 Next, I'm applying 7/32" copper foil to the entire border.  I'm first pressing it into the glass with my fingers ..
 Then I go in with a "fid" or flexible plastic wand and apply pressure to the top and sides to be sure that no chemicals can leak beneath it. 
 Here, I've taken the cleaned ring and covered the outside with copper foil.  I started with 1/4" foil, then added two overlapping rows of 13/64" foil.  Having the entire outer border foiled will provide more areas with which the solder will adhere, thus providing more strength to the repair.
 Here I'm applying liquid flux to the copper foil.  Notice that I'm holding the ring in place using a wide piece of blue painter's tape.
 To add more strength to the repair, I'm using braided copper wire.  Below I'm doing a process called "tinning".  I'm brushing the wire with flux ..
 Then I'm applying a thin coat of solder.  I'm using two small beads of solder as shown.  That's all that's needed.  Once the wire is "tinned" it will immediately affix itself to the adjoining pieces once the solder is melted.  An instant bond.
 Here's the view from inside the dome.  I'm now applying the tinned wire reinforcement to the ring.  Using the hot soldering iron, I melt it into the existing solder.
 Here's a view of the side of the lamp.  At this point, the stronger pieces of border glass have been soldered directly to the ring.
 Now I'm placing the other border pieces into the lamp, between the ring and the body of the lamp.  Notice that there is blue painter's tape beneath the glass, to hold it in place.  Also notice the wire reinforcement under the glass on the right.  I've added another row of the reinforcement here, to be sure that these pieces do not become loose again.  After all six pieces have been set in place, I brush on flux, then I soldered each copper foil seam.
 Here's the view from inside the dome, the six border pieces and the ring re-installed with solder.
 Still on the inside of the dome, I've cleaned off the soldered area and I'm applying black patina from the bottle cap as shown.  For this process, I use a metal handled acid brush.  Once the patina is set, I clean this area again with a spray patina remover.
 Then I turned the lamp to the outside, apply patina to the outside, clean it and let it dry.  As a final step, I applied stained glass compound to the entire lamp, inside and out.  This is a light wax which protects the patina and solder and gives the glass a nice shine.
Thank you Lynn, for bringing your Christmas wreath and lamp to me for repair.  I can't wait for you to see them both "in person"!

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!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Christmas Wreath Repair

This gorgeous stained glass Christmas wreath came to me the other day in three pieces.  It was made by an older woman who told my customer that this would be one of the last wreaths she'd make, so it is a special piece.  Here's how I went about repairing it .. (Click on any photo to enlarge).

Here's a "before photo" ...

 My customer and I spent a few moments jigsawing the pieces together.  Then I taped them in place and transported them downstairs to my studio where I added dotted silver Sharpie lines to show where the pieces needed to be re-joined.

Since this is an older piece, some of the old copper foil and solder was loose enough to pull off by hand.  In order to secure a firm bond for the repair, all of the edges in question needed to be fully cleaned of old copper foil and solder.

For some areas, I used needle nose pliers.

In addition to the three larger pieces, there were two smaller pieces which were loose and needed to be re-attached.  Here's one of them.

Once I removed the old foil and solder, I cleaned off the old adhesive using Goo gone and a generic orange de-greaser.

Then I added new copper foil to the pieces and pressed it onto the glass using a flexible plastic wand, or "fid", as shown.
 At this point, two facing sides have been cleaned of old solder and foil, and re-foiled.  I taped them in place as shown and moved onto the remaining two pieces.

 Now all three pieces have been cleaned up, re-foiled and taped together flat on my work bench.

 I started on the first section by brushing the copper foil with liquid flux with an acid brush as shown.  The flux is an agent which enables the solder to flow freely and adhere properly to the foil.

Notice my protective equipment which I use whenever I'm soldering or using flux .. a carbon filter fan and a lead-abatement breathing mask.  Essential.

Here I've begun soldering one side of the foil.  I'll do the same to the other two joints, then turn the wreath over and solder the other side.

At this point, the wreath is in one piece again, but I want it to be more secure.  I also want to assure that the pieces will not separate again.  I decided to edge the inner border of the wreath with a heavy gauge wire as shown below.  I don't know the actual gauge .. I used a length from my inventory.  But it is very flexible.  I started by bending it around the edges of the glass and then taped it in place using strips of painters tape as shown.

Now about half of the inner ring has been "wired."  To assure its strength, I'm using a single length of wire.

This is a messy part of the process, but I'm going around the interior adding dots of solder to secure the wire to the foil.  I'm also "tinning" the wire as I go, meaning that I'm coating it with flux and adding a thin layer of solder to it.  This helps it adhere.
 In order to make the wire "invisible", I've stood the wreath up in a holder so that the edge that I'm soldering is perpendicular to the floor.  Here I'm applying more solder to the wire.  As I move around the border, the wire "sinks" into the solder and is barely noticeable.
 When I'm satisfied with the look of the solder, I use a spray flux remover on both sides and wipe it down so that the wreath is clean.

 Now I'm using a different acid brush to "paint" on the black patina which reacts instantly with the silver solder, turning it black.  The new patina is an exact match to the old and the repairs are not visible.  After the patina sets for a few minutes, I rinse it off and let the wreath dry.  Then I apply stained glass finishing compound to both sides of the wreath.  This is a light wax which protects the patina and shines up the glass.

And here is the repaired wreath!  Thank you, Lynn, for bringing you wreath to me so you can enjoy it for many Christmases to come!  Next, I'll be working on repairing your beautiful lamp.
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!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Stained Glass windows in Old Town San Juan

Back from the Caribbean!  We missed two snowstorms while we were there and have since had one more .. and another this morning .. with another due this weekend.  This will be a winter to remember.

Our first port was San Juan, Puerto Rico and the first thing on our list was to see the 5-story stained glass window in the newer East wing of the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. We clarified with a taxi driver at the pier where we wanted to go, and the rate.  When we arrived, I wasn't sure that it was the correct museum (there are many in Old Town), but he assured me it was.  We paid the fare and left the cab, only to find that it was closed .. under construction.  We were disappointed, but took a leisurely walk through the area instead.

We came upon the Catedral San Juan Batista Basilica Menor.  Built in 1540 it is the second oldest church in the Americas.  Here we found some beautiful stained glass, as well as the burial place of Ponce De Leon, the first Governor of Puerto Rico who died while allegedly searching for the Fountain of Youth in Florida, and the mummified remains of St. Pio, a Roman martyr.

We went on to visit five more Caribbean islands but this was the only stained glass we saw.  I did some cursory research on the windows to determine when they were constructed but was unable to determine their age.  Considering that the art of stained glass dates back to the eleventh century, it is conceivable that they are original.  The building as it stands today dates back to 1540, but the original building was demolished in a hurricane in 1521.  Then in 1598, the church was looted by troops under the Earl of Cumberland.  In 1615, it was hit by another hurricane which took off the roof.  There is noticeable damage to the lower end of the window as shown above, but there was no mention of how it was damaged.

January-February are normally slow months for us.  I'm currently working on the design of a very large window which I will be collaborating on with another stained glass artist.  There are a couple of smaller commissions in the works as well as a couple of lamp repairs in the pipeline.  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!