Monday, February 27, 2017

Custom Clear Diamond Stained Glass Windows

I recently completed a pair of custom designed clear diamond stained glass windows.  The project began with a simple sketch which my customer made in my notebook. Her vision was realized with with two 36" x 16" windows which my husband Eric installed above their bar.

Here's her sketch.  Her idea was to have 4 bevels in each corner, with the center being clear yet opaque glass diamonds in the center.  We decided that clear glue chip would be a good choice for the center area.  She loves gray, so I proposed several different textures of clear gray to complement the glue chip.  

Here's my computer rendition.

After we met and decided on the general design I mailed several glass chips so she could choose favorites.  The "winning" choices were gray Waterglass for the outer border, gray Rough Rolled glass for the bevel rows, and clear glue chip for the center.

Here I'm preparing the pattern.  Its a three layered process.  The bottom layer is Manila folders taped together.  The middle layer is carbon paper. And the top layer is the "cartoon" or original pattern.  To the right, you'll see a small representation of the patterns for both the top and bottom windows.  I use these for reference as I work.

 The outside border is cut with standard scissors.  The inner cuts are made with specialized, double bladed stained glass pattern shears.  They leave a thin strip of paper between each pattern piece.  This allows room for the copper foil which will be added later.

Cutting the pattern pieces.

I organize the pattern pieces in recycled envelopes, by glass.  "GC" means the clear glue chip .. "RR" is the gray rough rolled .. "WG" is the gray waterglass.

Marking the diamond glue chip pieces to prepare for cutting.

This blue "running pliers" snaps glass in a straight line after I've "scored" it with the purple glass cutter, also shown.

Tracing pieces of the gray.

Using the glass cutter at a 90 degree angle, with firm pressure, to score a piece of gray.

As each piece of glass is cut, I bring it to the grinder.  This makes the edges safe to handle and helps the copper foil to adhere. 

Now all the glass is cut for the top window. There is a "fence" or metal enclosure around the window which is tacked into my work surface with push pins.  This keeps the glass from shifting.  It stays on until I complete the "tack soldering" process.

Here's a close up of the glass.  There's a nice mix of texture with the bevel, the waterglass on the outer border, the rough rolled glass on the bevel rows, and the glue chip diamonds in the center.

Before I apply copper foil to the glass, I etch my name and date into a corner piece.  I use an electric Dremel tool.  The signature is very subtle, in the lower right hand corner.

Now I'm applying "black back" adhesive copper foil.  Copper foil comes in several widths and with 3 different colors on the adhesive side (copper, silver, black).  Since this window will be patina-ed in black, I'm using foil which is black on the inside.  If any of the foil can be seen through the gray or glue chip glass, it will essentially become invisible.

Using a "fid" or flat plastic wand to burnish the foil onto the edges of each piece of glass.  This prevents any chemicals from working their way underneath.

And here is the top window, fully foiled and ready for internal reinforcement.

Here I'm using thin bands of copper and inserting them randomly throughout the window.  These strips serve to strengthen the piece and are invisible after soldering.

Applying liquid flux to the copper foil.  This liquid is a catalyst which enables the solder to flow freely.

The blue tape marks where I've inserted the reinforcement copper strips.  Here I'm doing the "tack soldering" process whereby I add a small amount of solder to the intersections of the pieces to lock them in place.

At this point, the entire front has been tack soldered and the glass pieces are all locked together, so I've removed the metal "fence" from the border.  Here I'm sliding the "cartoon" from underneath the window, to protect it from the chemicals which will follow.

Window is tack soldered, fence is off, pattern removed

Next, I fully soldered the entire front.  

Then I clean off the flux and excess solder with "Kwik-Clean" Flux and Patina Remover.

Now I'm moving on to work on the bottom window.  Here I've traced out diamond patterns to cut from the glue chip glass.

Using running pliers to snap the straight scores.

A stack of diamonds waiting to be washed off, dried, and placed onto the pattern.

Back to the top window again .. After it was fully soldered and cleaned, my husband Eric custom cut and installed a sturdy zinc metal frame around the perimeter as shown.

Taking measurements for the zinc frame.

Eric cutting the zinc using a specialized angle metal cutter.

Now the top window is framed.  Eric re-installed the "fence" around the border so that I can solder it to the window.

Detail of the area cutout for the latch.

Here I'm soldering the lead lines to the frame.  You can also see my signature and date etched into the glass.

After the frame is soldered to the window, the fence is removed.  Here I'm applying liquid patina to the solder.  It turns it black instantly.  After letting it set for a while, I clean off the excess using Kwik-Clean.

And here is the top window on my work bench. 

Back to the bottom window.  Here all of the glass has been cut.

And now each piece of glass has been foiled.

And now the tack soldering is complete so the pieces are locked into place to prepare for the removal of the fence.

Fence is off and I'm sliding out the "cartoon".

And now the bottom window is soldered and ready for framing.

And here's a composite photo of the top and bottom windows, taken outdoors.  You can see the corner bevels clearly as well as the levels of transparency with the various types of glass.
And here's a photo taken indoors, on a white board.
Soon after both windows were completed, Eric installed them in our customers' home, above their bar.  They love them!

Here's a night view ..

And here it is in the daytime.  Thank you so much for the photo, Leslie.  It was a pleasure creating these windows for you and Drew!  May you and your family and guests enjoy them for many years to come!
For more information on my other projects, please click here to visit my website.

If you're on FaceBook, please click here to "like" my BoehmStained Glass Studio page to keep up with all the latest projects.  Thank you!

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