Thursday, June 4, 2015

Stained Glass Floral Mirror Repair

This lovely mirror was handmade by my customer's daughter. It sustained damage during a move and my challenge was to repair it for him.  Here's how I went about the process.  (Click on any photo to enlarge).

 Here's how the panel came to me .. With a crack going from side to side and a piece of mirror glass missing from the center.

Here's the back side of the mirror.  Notice the blue tape.  I braced the sides with "credit card splints".  I cut up an old credit card lengthwise and taped it to both sides to avoid further damage to the panel.  Worked great!

The first step in the repair is to remove the cracked glass.  Here I'm using an oil-filled pistol grip glass cutter to score the back of the glass using a cross-hatching pattern. Then I tap repeatedly on the back of the piece using the metal end of the glass cutter.  This serves to further crack the piece to make for easier removal.

At this stage, I'm wearing eye protection.  Glass shards fly everywhere.  I'm using needle-nose pliers to tug out the chunks of glass.

In order to prepare for the insertion of replacement glass, I'm tugging off all the old solder and foil using needle nose pliers.  For those parts which do not come off easily, I use my soldering iron to melt them off.  A clean inner border is essential for best adherence of the new foil to follow.

 Now I'm on the front of the glass, scoring it from this side.  Mirror glass is tough!  Because it has that mirror coating on the back, it is much studier than regular stained glass.  It has to be handled differently, and carefully.

 Here I'm melting off some of the stubborn old foil and solder using my soldering iron.

Now the piece has been completely removed.  I've used Goo Gone and a generic orange-based spray cleaner to clean off the remaining old foil adhesive around the border.  Here I'm using a manila folder as a pattern for the new glass.  I'm tracing it with a pen.  Notice that the leaf cracked!  This is to be expected, since the shock of the fall went from side to side.  No worries, I have the exact green glass in inventory to replace that as well.

Now I've cut out and marked the manila pattern "mirror front".  Then I traced the pattern onto the glass using a black Sharpie marker.  Note that I used 1/8" mirror glass from a local glass supplier.  The glass which is offered through traditional stained glass suppliers is very costly.  This is a better way to go .. It saves money for me and my customer.

A quick lesson on cutting curves.  Notice that I'm scoring and pulling off thin arcs of glass, one at a time.  If the cut is too deep, the sides of the curve will crack.  The tool used here is called a grozier.

Next, I put on my "rubber fingers" which are available at any Staples or Office Depot.  These protect my fingers from glass cuts and provide a firm grip on the wet glass. Then I run the edges of the glass through the grinder.  This helps the copper foil to adhere firmly.

 During the grinding process, mirror glass will often splinter off.  Here I'm applying ink from a silver Sharpie pen to the back of the mirror.  It covers any flaws which resulted from the grinding.

Now I'm applying 7/32" adhesive copper foil to the center of the edge of the replacement glass.

Now I've placed the replacement glass where it belongs and am brushing on liquid flux with a metal acid brush.  This enables the 60/40 solder to flow evenly onto the copper foil.
 Now the replacement glass is soldered into place and I'm starting to work on removing the cracked leaf.  Notice that I have the exact green glass in my large inventory.
 Using the same method as before, I've cut a new leaf.  I'm using a fid or flexible flat plastic wand to smooth down the edges of the foil.  This prevents any liquids or chemicals from seeping beneath it, and improves the bonding to the adjacent pieces of glass.

Next, I'm repeating the solder and foil removal process with the large piece of cracked mirror glass.  Note that I've taped up the sharp edge to lessen the chance of injury.  Care of course must always be exercised when working with glass.  (I keep a first aid kit in my studio, but thankfully, have rarely used it.  The glass knows me by now .. I rarely get cut).

Now I've replaced both green leaves.  I've removed the large piece of cracked glass and have cleaned off the inner borders as before.

I've laid down a manila folder to prepare for tracing the inner border for the replacement glass.  Notice that the "credit card splints" will remain in place throughout the entire repair.

In order for copper foil to adhere well, its essential that the edges of the glass be grinded.  On this panel, as on many pieces I've repaired, the glass is not ground.  Here I'm using a metal file to rough up the glass since it cannot be run through my electric grinder.

An "aerial view" of the application of adhesive copper foil to the inner edge of the border for the large piece of mirror glass.

With the large mirror piece in place, I'm again applying liquid flux to the copper foil.  Notice that I'm taking it from the bottle cap.  This is to prevent contamination of the bottle contents.  Any left-over flux from the cap is discarded.

Shown is the back of the panel which is coming along nicely!  All the cracked glass has been replaced and soldered. Notice the chain attached to the right side.  To facilitate the repair, I temporarily un-soldered it on the left side.

And here is a view of the soldered piece from the front.

This piece was made with decorative soldering.  In the majority of stained glass pieces, the solder is smooth and forms a dome along the copper foil line.  This piece is different in that the solder is textured.  It was a fun challenge to duplicate the look!  You can see I did a great job of duplicating the original solder (if I do say so myself!.

Here I'm applying Novacan Black Patina to the solder lines with a metal acid brush.  Again, I'm taking the product from the bottle cap.

Along the way, the panel has to be fully cleaned several times.  This is to wash off the caustic, toxic chemicals and to prepare for the following steps.  I use "Kwik-Clean" spray for removal of flux and patina.

And here is the repaired mirror!  I'm happy to say that the owner, Chuck, was very pleased with the repair.  Thank you Chuck .. It was a pleasure doing this for you and your daughter!!

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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