Friday, February 17, 2017

Custom Oval Stained Glass Window

This window was created on request from a customer in South Carolina.  At certain times of the season, the sun comes into his oval window, creating a glare on his computer.  I created this for him by using all opaque ("opalescent") glass.  This glass allows light to come through, but its more muted than see-through, or "cathedral" glass.

For an oval window, we generally make a site visit and prepare a template so that the stained glass window will fit exactly.  In this case, because of the distance, my customer prepared a template and mailed it to us.

After I received the template, I prepared over twenty combinations of colors in the palette he suggested. Here is the "winning" rendition, with the exception that he requested a cranberry red in place of the dark amber.

Using a light box, I made a duplicate of the original template.

Here I'm making measurements and tracing the existing lines onto the duplicate.

Tracing out the pattern pieces, numbers, and glass colors onto Manila folders using carbon paper and ball point pen.

Further work, preparing the Manila pattern which will be used to cut the glass.

These double-bladed pattern shears cut a thin strip of paper between each piece of glass.  This is to allow clearance for the copper foil which will be wrapped around each piece of glass.

I organize the pattern pieces into marked recycled envelopes, by color.

I've scored this glass along the line and now I'm tapping the metal end of the glass cutter to "loosen" the glass so that it will crack along the line.

Grinding the edges of the center circular piece of white glass.

These "groziers" are an invaluable tool for nipping off long thin sections of glass as shown.

I prefer to cut glass by hand, but in some cases I use an electric wet saw.  It helps conserve glass and is able to make cuts which are not possible by hand.

It would not be possible to cut these three pieces, in this configuration, by hand.

The amber pieces, traced onto the glass.

Red opal glass has become almost impossible to locate.  I was fortunate to have some on hand, and by coincidence, I had just purchased some from a vendor in Pennsylvania, not knowing that I would be using it the following week.  Shown here are "running pliers" which are used to snap glass which has been scored in a straight line.

More red opal being traced.

The glass still needs to be trimmed and properly fitted, but its all cut at this point.

The next step is to apply the adhesive copper foil to the edges of the glass.  Here I'm using a "fid" to burnish the foil onto the glass.

On each larger window, I always add reinforcement.  Here I've run a long strip of copper that fits between the glass.   It adds a great deal of strength to the window and also adds stiffness which will prevent cracks.

In order to be sure that the cut glass lined up perfectly with the template, I pinned and soldered the center area of the window first.

Here I'm etching my name, the month and year into the glass with an electric Dremel tool.

Continuing with the process of copper foiling.  I don't foil the edges of my stained glass windows.  They will be covered by a metal frame, so there's no need to do so.

Burnishing a red opal piece. Notice that the window fits perfectly onto the template now.  The small amount of clearance will accommodate the soft lead came frame that my husband will install later.

Applying liquid flux to the copper foil using a metal acid brush.  This chemical acts as a catalyst, allowing the solder to flow smoothly over the foil.  Next I solder the front of the window.

Here my husband Eric is attaching a flexible lead came frame to the oval.  He's taping it in place temporarily.

Now he's applying push pins around the border to hold it in place so that I can solder it to the lead lines.

Now I'm applying black patina to the solder. 

After it sets for a while, I has to be thoroughly cleaned off.

After the window is dry, I apply stained glass finishing compound to the front, back and sides.  Then I let that dry, and buff it off.

The window will look different depending on the light.  Here it is on top of a light box.

And here it is, lit from the front, on a white board.

This window is being shipped from New Jersey to South Carolina.  Here my husband is cutting plywood to use in shipping the window.  We double-box our windows, pack them securely with a few types of packing materials, and mark the outside with many "Fragile-Glass" stickers.  We also insure the windows and provide a tracking number to our customers.

We're happy to report that the window made it, safe and sound.  Our customer is very happy .. Here it is in its new home!  Thank you David, for entrusting me with this project, long distance.  It was a pleasure creating it for you!

Here's another view of the window.  We attached industrial-strength double sided tape to several points in the back so that David could easily do the installation himself.
For more information on my other projects, please click here to visit my website.

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