Friday, January 23, 2015

Mini Rainbow Stained Glass Church Window

Stained glass panels make wonderful gifts.  I was recently asked to create a window as a retirement gift for the organist of a local church.  After serving for 30 years, her choir and congregants wanted to have something special made for her.  In just three days' time, here is what I made for her .. Click on any photo to enlarge.

Here is the beautiful, full size window in the church.  It's breathtaking!

I worked from a photograph of the window and decided to use one area of it, below, and change the colors to reflect the colors within the large window.  The panel I'm creating is 10" wide and 13" high.

Here are samples of the glass I used for the project, which I donated to the church.   I made the panel using all Cathedral glass which I had in stock.  Cathedral is colored clear glass which lets the most light through, as opposed to opalescent glass which is denser and lets in less light.  There are many variations in between.  I chose colors which are deeply saturated to give a beautiful rainbow effect.
 Here is a computer-generated rendition of the finished window which was approved by my customer.  We made a few changes based on her requests, which is easy to do. 
 An early step in the process is the preparation of the pattern.  Below, I've taped Manila folders, edge to edge, overlaid carbon paper sheets, and then added the numbered pattern on top of that.  All three layers are then anchored to my work surface which is a wood table covered with a sheet of Homasote.  That's a fire-resistant, spongy sound proofing material which accepts push pins readily.
 After the pattern has been completely traced, I cut out the external border using regular scissors.  For the pieces themselves though, I use specialized stained glass pattern shears.  They are double bladed and cut out a small channel between each piece as shown below.  This small channel will be taken up by the thin copper foil which will follow later.
 Then the glass cutting begins.  I cut out portions of the total pattern, one color at a time.  Here I've traced the yellow pieces onto the glass with a Sharpie marker.
 Then I use an oil-filled pistol grip glass cutter at a 90 degree angle and score the glass at the edges.  Then I'll use either the black-handled groziers (on the left) to snap off the glass, or I'll use the blue running pliers if the score is longer and straight.
 After several pieces have been cut, I take them to the grinder for the edges to be smoothed out.  This makes the adhesive copper foil adhere much better, and it also makes the glass safer to handle.  Notice that I'm wearing "rubber fingers" as I handle the glass.
 Here's a piece of the streaky white glass being snapped along the score line with the running pliers.
 Here's the panel with all of the glass cut.  Notice that I've placed a "fence" or "jig" around the panel.  This serves to keep it square and prevents the pieces from shifting around as they're placed on top of the pattern.
 After all the glass is cut, I begin applying adhesive copper foil to the edges of each piece of glass.  For this project, I wanted thinner solder lines so I used 13/64" foil instead of the standard 7/32". 
 As each piece is foiled, I use a "fid" or flexible plastic wand to smooth down the edges and press it into the glass.  This prevents chemicals and liquids from seeping under the foil.
 Here's the panel with the copper foil process completed.
 Next, I apply Canfield Blu-Glass Flux to all the foil on one side, using a metal acid brush.  I work with flux out of the jar cap and dispose of any unused flux, so as not to contaminate the contents of the bottle. 
 Here I'm doing the "tack soldering".  I'm adding small dots of solder to the intersections of the glass pieces.  I'm soldering just enough to keep the pieces attached to one another.
 When the tack soldering is complete, I release the fence and slide the "cartoon" or pattern out from underneath the panel.  This is to protect it from the chemicals and cleaning solutions which will follow. Once the panel is off the cartoon, I go back and fully solder the front.  Then I turn the panel over and fully solder the back.

Here's the panel on my light box. Love the colors!
 My husband, Eric, custom makes all the metal frames and stands.  Here he's taking measurements.  After he attaches the frame around the perimeter, he put the fence back on it.  Then I solder the corners and the lead lines to the frame for stability and strength.
 Once the panel has been framed and fully soldered, I add my signature and date using an etching bit in a Dremel tool.  After the dust has been cleared from the etching, its barely visible.
 My customer requested that the piece be created with a stand, so here's Eric preparing it using poplar wood and metal fittings.
 Here's a photo of the panel, fully soldered, framed and cleaned.
 The next step is the patina process.  Here I'm using a different metal acid brush to apply Novacan Black Patina, which reacts instantly with the solder.  I coat both sides and the frame with the solution.
 After the panel is patina-ed, I clean it using Kwik-Clean Stained Glass Flux and Patina Cleaner.

 And here is the finished panel!  This was photographed with the panel against a white wall ...
 .. And here is a photo of the panel taken on a light box.  As with all stained glass, it will look different under different lighting conditions.

And here's the panel in its custom-made stand, in the sunlight which casts a beautiful reflection.

it is my hope that the organist will look at this and remember her many years of playing, as well as the thoughtful parishioners who arranged to have such a thoughtful gift created for her.  Thank you Gail and Robin for finding me!  It was a pleasure!

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!