Friday, August 10, 2018

Stained Glass Monogram Gift

I was recently inspired to create a personalized housewarming gift for two friends.  I decided to use their initials and then overlap them to represent their bond with each other.  I used blue and red glass for the initials and purple for the overlapping areas.  I chose two different textured glass in clear to complete the design. Here's how I went about it ..

I uploaded a few outline fonts and then input them into my software to create the design.  I printed a few blank designs and hand-colored them in as shown. The dimensions are 7-1/2" high and 9" wide.

Then I went back to the computer and input some potential glass samples.  I chose a rough rolled glass for the blue, unidentified older glass for the purple and red, clear confetti glass for the corners, and a light seedy clear glass for the areas around the initials.

Here I'm tracing the pattern onto a manila folder using carbon paper.  The pattern, folder and carbon paper are held in place with push pins on my porous work surface.  It's made of Homasote which is a sound proofing building material.  Shown are pieces of all the glass chosen for the project.

I cut out the rectangular border with regular scissors.  Then I cut out the individual pattern pieces using stained glass pattern shears.  As shown, these leave a thin strip of paper between each piece.  This allows room for the copper foil which will follow later.

Now all the pattern pieces are cut and laying randomly on the glass.  I'll decide the exact placement later.  I'm just making sure there is enough glass for the pieces.

Here I've used a Sharpie to trace the pattern pieces onto the glass.  I've cut out a few pieces of the blue. I'm using "groziers" to nip off a curve in another of the blue pieces.  

Using an oil-filled pistol grip glass cutter to cut a piece of purple glass.

After each piece of glass is cut, I bring it to the electric grinder to smooth down the edges.  This makes the pieces safe to handle.  It also helps the copper foil to adhere.

Different glass can be more difficult to cut by hand, as was the case with the red.  The hand cutter was simply not sufficient to get the score lines I wanted.  So I decided to use my electric band saw, which is a wet saw. This saw drips water onto the glass to cool it down while the blade does its work.  I've traced the patterns onto the red glass using a silver Sharpie.  Here I'm applying lip balm to the markings so that the water doesn't wash them off.

Working the wet saw.  I'm holding both sides of the glass and slowing moving it along the marked line.

After all the glass was cut, it was time to sign my work.  I etch my name, month and year into each of my custom pieces.  Here I've "tested" a piece of red, purple and clear.  Since the red and purple etchings are so visible, I decided to etch the inside of the lower right corner clear confetti glass.

Here's the back side of the lower right corner, etched with my name, month and year.  Since the front of the confetti glass is heavily textured, the etching cannot be seen from the front. 

Here are the "S" and "D" from the chosen outline font.

All the glass has been cut and my signature is completed.  Each piece of glass has been placed on top of the pattern. I've added four "fences" or metal guards to each side.  These will serve to keep the piece "square" as I continue working.

Here I'm applying adhesive 7/32" black-backed copper foil to the border of each piece of glass.  I'm using black-backed foil because of the clear glass.  After the black patina has been applied to the solder, the inside of the foil will not be visible through the glass.

Each piece of glass has now been foiled.  The fences are still in place.  I'm now applying liquid "flux" to the copper foil.  This is a catalyst which enables the solder to flow freely over the foil.

Next, I'm doing the "tack soldering" whereby I melt on a small dot of solder to the intersections of the glass.  This serves to lock the pieces together.

Now that the pieces are "tack soldered" and securely bonded, I removed the fence and slid the paper pattern (the "cartoon") out from under it.  Since the piece is free from the fences, I can move it around and have more angles from which to solder the front and back.

Here I've soldered the front.  After that's completed, I used a neutralizing spray to remove the caustic liquid flux.

I'm holding a piece of metal "channel" which is a thin "U" shaped length of zinc.  I've measured and cut some of this channel into four pieces and pinned it to the border. Then I soldered the border to the existing solder lines so that they are firmly bonded.

Since the frame is now in place, I've created two hooks using 20 gauge copper wire.  In order to get round circles, I wrapped the wire around the end of one of my pens.  

I applied liquid flux to the hooks and "tinned" them by adding a small bit of solder to the entire hook.  Then I added a small blob of solder below the corner.  I held each hook with needle nose pliers, then sank the hook into the solder using the hot soldering iron.  Here is one of the hooks after the back had been patina-ed.

Here's a close up view which shows the textures of the glass.
Now that the piece has been fully soldered on both sides and thoroughly cleaned, I'm applying black patina to all of the solder and to the frame.  The patina is a chemical which instantly turns the solder black.  After its allowed to set, I sprayed it again with the neutralizer. After the piece is completely dry, I applied "stained glass finishing compound" to the entire piece.  This is a light wax which protects the patina and gives the glass a nice shine.

And here is the finished gift, before the wax has been applied.  It's against a white background.  

And here it is, finished and in the sunlight.  Now the beauty, textures and true colors of the glass can be seen. Congratulations on your move, good friends!  I'm so happy for you!
For more information on my other projects, please click here to visit my website.

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