Monday, November 24, 2014

Floral Stained Glass Lamp Repair

This large, beautiful lamp was accidentally broken by a young boy.  His mother offered to have it repaired for her friend who owns the lamp.  Kathleen, Anne and I had a fun time in my studio, going through my glass inventory.  We came up with glass that was an almost-perfect match to each of the pieces that were cracked.  Here's the process.  (Click on any photo to enlarge for a closer look).

Here is a view of the side showing some of the cracked and dislocated pieces.  There were about 19 that had to be replaced.

Another view .. Each of the blue pieces of tape marks a cracked piece that needs replacement.

Here is the beautiful palette of colors that the three of us decided upon.  All were in my extensive glass inventory. This glass is "opalescent" which means it is a denser glass and gives a softer glow.  "Cathedral" glass is clear or colored and can be textured, but it is more see-through.  We did not use any Cathedral on this project.

Here are two of my tools .. The blue "running pliers" snap straight scores as shown.  Beneath that are is my oil-filled pistol grip cutter.  To make a straight score line, I press a flat ruler against the glass and run the blade portion of the cutter at a 90 degree angle along the edge of the ruler.  Then I tap repeatedly on the front and back of the glass.  It will eventually crack.  There is another tool called a "grozer" (not shown) which bites off smaller pieces of glass.

Safety first .. Lead is dangerous to work with so I always have a filtered fan running and I wear a lead-protectant 3M breathing mask.

Below, I've used needle-nose pliers to pull out the cracked glass.  I'm also pulling off the old solder and copper foil.  In order to replace glass, the borders of the old piece have to be cleaned off.

On another area of the lamp, I'm using the soldering iron to melt off old solder and foil.  Depending on the age of the lamp, this can be a time-consuming process.

After the border is cleared of old solder and foil, I use a spray cleaner on it to rub off any remaining old adhesive.  When its dry, I center 7/32" self-adhesive copper foil around the edge as shown.  Then I press the copper foil into the glass using a "fid" or flexible plastic wand.  This prevents chemicals from seeping under the foil and improves the longevity of the bond.

After the opening has been cleaned and foiled, I lay a piece of manila folder on the other side and I trace a pattern for the new glass as shown.  To assist me in deciding where on the sheet of glass I should cut for the best match, I mark the pattern "inside" or "outside", referring to its position on the lamp dome.

Here I'm grinding a piece of replacement glass.  

Using a fid to press the foil onto a replacement piece of glass.

Here the replacement glass has been foiled, as has the perimeter around it.  

Here the new piece is in place and soldered on the outside of the dome.  (See it above my name),

Here is another view of the soldered replaced piece which shows more damage needing attention at the edge of the dome.

Another piece soldered and a few more removed.  I am always careful about the sequence when doing a lamp repair.  Its important to remove the pieces in such a way as to not affect the structural integrity.  I generally work on only a couple of pieces at a time, start to finish.  Then I move on to the next area.
 Below. I'm using blue painter's tape to hold a new piece of glass in place.  Notice the new foil on the adjacent two pieces.  I've replaced the old foil there to add strength to the repairs.

Now the damaged area has several replacement pieces, done in such a way that the colors are a good match and the glass is firmly bonded.

In a few cases, I removed only half of the cracked glass and let the other half remain in place.  With a floral design such as this, this is an acceptable practice as it adds more dimension to the lamp.  Below, since I left glass behind, I'm grinding it with a metal file.  This process roughs up the glass and enables the new copper foil to adhere properly.

And the process is repeated, over and over, until the lamp is fully repaired.  Here I'm pulling off old foil and solder from another cracked piece.

And here's the opening with the border cleared.

The replacement piece ready for soldering.

When holding the light up, I noticed a couple of light leaks.  To block them, I added trimmed copper foil strips to the inside of the lamp and anchored them with solder to the existing solder lines.  The foil was then fluxed, soldered and patina-ed.

At this point in the process, all of the cracked pieces, and light leaks, have been replaced, liquid flux has been applied and each piece has been soldered and thoroughly cleaned and dried.  Here I'm applying Novacan Black Patina with a metal acid brush.  It instantly turns the solder black.  After it sets for a moment, it also gets cleaned off.

And here is an "aerial" view of the lamp, fully repaired.
 Another view of the repaired lamp, below.  Thank you Kathleen for your generosity in offering to repair Anne's lamp.  I hope she will enjoy it for many years to come!

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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