Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Custom Stained Glass Closet Doors

And now for something different!  My customers have a coat closet which originally had wooden spindles in front of curtains on the upper half of each door.  After they tried a few different methods of updating the look, they decided that stained glass was the way to go, so they called me in to help with the project.  Here's how we went about it ..

Here are the original doors.


We discussed color combinations and designs.  This was one of the designs prepared for the left hand door.  It was one of several color combinations using an Olde English "B", which is their surname initial.  We chose opaque glass so that the interior of the closet won't be seen after the windows are installed.

They decided they wanted a different "B", so here it is!  The only change to this rendition is that the "B" will be green instead of purple.

Here I'm starting the pattern making process.  The Manila folders are on the bottom, with a layer of carbon paper on top, then the pattern. I traced all of the markings, lines and numbers onto the Manila folders below.

Using standard scissors to cut the outer border of the pattern.

Using double-bladed stained glass pattern shears to cut between the pieces.  These scissors leave a thin strip of paper to allow space for the copper foil which will follow.

Since the only difference between the two patterns was the design inside the oval, I used the same pattern for each door.  Here I'm modifying the design to accommodate the "B".

I marked the pattern pieces with both sets of numbers for each door.  Then I organized them into recycled junk mail envelopes, by color.

Here I'm cutting all of the green pieces first.  

Cutting the diamond shape for the right hand door.

Tracing all the red corners for both doors.

Laying out the pattern for the amber areas for both doors.
 For some of the curves, I used my wet ring saw.  It greatly reduces chances of a crack in the glass for cuts which are more difficult to do by hand.
 Tracing the border pieces for both doors onto a lighter color amber.

 Preparing to cut the light amber pieces.

As with all patterns, pieces may appear identical but in fact, they're not.  In order to assure that the individual piece numbers don't wash off, I'm coating each piece with lip balm.

Using "groziers" to nip off a small piece of glass.  These are used for small refinements to enable a good fit onto the pattern.
 Using the purple "oil-filled pistol grip glass cutter" to "score the glass.
 Using "running pliers" to snap the score.
 Grinding the edge of each piece of glass. This makes the glass safe to handle and enables the copper foil to adhere better.
 Applying copper foil to the center of the edge of each piece of glass.
 Using a "fid" or flat plastic wand to burnish the foil onto the glass.

Another view of the foil being placed onto the glass.

Due to the size of each panel, I've inserted lengths of copper reinforcement strips in between the pieces of glass.  These strips are the same width of the glass, 1/8", and become invisible after the soldering process.  They add a great deal of strength and stability to the panel.

Now the right side of the door has been foiled.  Notice that it is being held inside a "fence" or metal barrier.  This prevents the glass from shifting.

Here I'm "tack soldering" the pieces, which means I'm adding small bits of solder to the intersections of the glass to lock them into place.  Prior to soldering, I've coated all the copper foil with "liquid flux" which acts as a catalyst for the solder to flow freely over the copper.

Since the pieces are now locked together, I removed the "fence" and I'm sliding the paper pattern out from under the panel.

Here I've cut all the glass for the left side door.

Applying the copper foil to the left side pieces.

Left side fully foiled, still in the "fence".

"Tack soldering" the left side.

Sliding out the paper pattern.

Now both sides are soldered on the front.

At this point, I etch my name, month and year into the center bottom piece of the right side.

While I was working on the glass, my customer was working on stripping and painting the doors.  He decided to paint them both white, to make the stained glass really pop.  He gave us both doors after the paint dried fully.  Here my husband, Eric, is preparing wood strips to secure the windows into the openings.
 Eric custom-cut zinc channel strips for each side of the panels.  Then I soldered them in place at the corners and at the lead lines.  I also soldered the backs of each of the panels.

After the zinc frames were in place, I applied "black patina" to all of the solder.  This turns the solder black instantly.  After its allowed to set, I thoroughly cleaned off the excess.

Here's the cleaning product I use to neutralize and remove all traces of "liquid flux" and "patina".

After both panels are clean and dry, I applied "stained glass finishing compound to each panel.  This is a light wax which protects the patina and gives the glass a nice shine.

And here are both panels, ready for installation in the doors.

Eric is cleaning off the panel to prepare for installation into the left hand door.

He installed them in place using removable wood strips.  Therefore, if my customers should ever move, they can take the panels with them.  We create all of our panels and windows to be removable.

And here are the finished doors~!  Thank you Scott and Deb, for bringing us in on your project.  It was a pleasure working with you!!
For more information on my other projects, please click here to visit my website.

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