Friday, September 28, 2012

Repairs to Stained Glass Tulip Lamp

This beautiful lamp met up with an energetic toddler and ended up with at least 16 broken and cracked pieces.  The metal canopy was also crushed.  (That's the metal cap on top).  It has sentimental value to my customer's wife.  Here's how I'm going about repairing it. (Click on any photo to enlarge).

After careful examination, I marked each broken or cracked piece with a small square of blue painter's tape.  Here's the view from inside the dome.

The canopy was crushed and flattened on one side.  I'll fix that later.
 In order to preserve the stability of the structure of the lamp, its important to remove and replace every other piece.  Removing side-by-side broken pieces can cause it to collapse or get out of shape.  To remove the cracked glass, I score it with a pistol-grip glass cutter as shown below.  Then, using the brass end of the glass cutter, I tap on the glass until the piece cracks further and loosens up.  I also tap on the outside of the dome directly on the piece to be removed.
 For this operation, eye protection is strongly recommended.  Glass shards can go flying in any direction.  For whatever pieces don't fall out on their own, I extract them using needle nosed pliers, as shown below.
Below, looking at the inside of the dome, several pieces have been removed.
 The next step isn't shown .. I carefully melt out the foil around the edges of the piece of glass which was removed.  This requires use of a lead-protecting breathing mask.  I also use the needle nose pliers to pull off the foil.  Then I clean off the edge using a paper towel.

Next, I make a tracing of the opening, using an old manila folder for a pattern, as shown below.  The pattern is then used to make an outline on the glass.
 Below, I'm grinding the edges of the cut glass.  Sometimes further tweaking is required to get the piece to fit in the opening just right.  It can't be too tight or too loose.
 The next step is to cover the edges with copper foil, as shown below.  The foil gets centered on the edge.
 Then, using a fid, or flat plastic wand, the copper foil is pressed firmly onto the glass.
 Next, the inside of the opening gets new copper foil, as shown.  This is also pressed down using a fid. (You can also see the removed, curved piece of glass still has the original copper foil and solder in place at this point).
 Here (in silver) are several pieces which have been replaced.  The soldering at this point is rough and done just to secure the pieces.

 When soldering the outside of the dome, I place the lamp in a boxful of packing peanuts.  Solder needs to be applied at a surface that's perpendicular to the floor. This does the trick!
Its coming along well!  I'll continue to replace each piece as shown and will post another update in the next day or two.

Visit our website to see more repairs, custom windows, and testimonials from our happy customers.  Thanks!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A surprise gift of glass and some instruction, too

Today I had the pleasure of meeting a former stained glass artisan who chose me as the happy recipient of his inventory of glass.  This kind gentleman just came out of the blue with a station wagon full of wonderful, old glass in the most incredible colors and textures!

He gifted me with several vintage shoe boxes full of smaller glass pieces, as well as a larger box of pieces in every color imaginable, plus a large sheet of clear window glass, a large sheet of opalescent lamp glass, and several other large sheets in delicious shades of red, midnight blue, and ginger ale .. That's the only way I can describe the color of that antique, bubbled sheet.  He also gifted me with several feet of lead came.

As we unloaded the goodies, he mentioned that he had taught a few students how to do stained glass using lead came instead of copper foil.  I was all ears!  For the past year or so, I've been wanting to work with lead came but wasn't quite sure where to begin.  And here, today, at my doorstep, was someone offering to teach me!  He demonstrated the technique, answered my questions, and gave me a lot of encouragement and ideas.

In the past, I've been referring lead came clients elsewhere but as my business grows I am eager to offer repairs and custom work for lead came clients as well.  Stay tuned.

My next project is to repair a beautiful lamp which sustained 14 cracked or broken pieces. I began assessing the damage this afternoon and will start the process of repairing it tomorrow.  Check back as I start working on this beauty.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Stained Glass Front Door Panel - Installation

Last night's rain delayed our plans, but tonight we were able to install the replacement stained glass panel to the side of the front door.  First, Eric removed the piece of wood that the homeowner added for security.  I held the panel in place as Eric added two screws in front of it to secure it, then he taped the border and added glazing putting around the entire panel.  (Click on any photo to enlarge).

The glazing putty will take a day or so to set up, then it can be painted the same green as the rest of the exterior window frame.

(Left) Here's the exterior view of the panel with the putty in place and the blue painters' tape removed.

(Right) And here's the finished panel (the one in the middle), as viewed from the lobby looking out.

We are very happy with the color and texture match for the antique green glass.  The glue chip glass will give the homeowners privacy and the new panel should easily last another 90 years.
The entryway, restored as new!
Ronnie, thank you for entrusting us with this important element of your home which has been in your family for so many years, and Kate, you were a joy to work with!  We wish all the best to you and your family.

If you have a stained glass window in need of repair .. or if your bath, kitchen, or other room, could use some color and character, please consider us!  Visit our website for ideas .. Look through the projects to the lower right side of the blog .. and get in touch!  201-600-1616.  If you are on FaceBook, you can keep up with our work by becoming one of our fans .. And remember, we also work long distance, collaborating on your design via email and phone .. All we need to get started are a few photos and your measurements!  Thank you!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Stained Glass Front Door Panel Reconstruction - Repair

Our current project is to rejuvenate a lovely 90-year old home's entryway.  The homeowner's paper boy got a bit too enthusiastic and broke one of the panels beside the front door.  Our task was to repair, and reconstruct the broken panel.  Here's a view from inside the home:  (Click on any photo to enlarge).

For security, the homeowner nailed a piece of wood behind the broken panel, shown below.  The glass we are replacing is leaded glass.  I'll be using a different technique, copper foil, but we'll be modifying it with wider copper foil to mimic the original panel.
Below, my husband Eric is using hammer and screwdriver to carefully remove the broken panel.
Now the panel is safely out and he's removing a screw from the original installation.
One of the challenges of repairing older stained glass panels and windows is matching the existing glass.  Long ago, I was told that green is the hardest color to match because the human eye can distinguish more shades of this color than any other.  The reason was due to survival instincts.  Certain green plants could be poisonous, so our forebears learned quickly what to eat, and what to avoid, partly by color.  (Anyway, I digress ...).

Here's Eric holding up three potential choices for the green.  One is the existing glass (the second sample) and the other three were contenders. During my research for a good green match, I contacted two suppliers, one of whom was able to provide what we thought would be a "perfect" match.  After we removed the panel, we decided to try for a "better than perfect" match, and after visiting a third supplier, we were able to find a nice green glue chip glass that we agreed would be the winner.  The color was a better match and the texture of the glue chip will provide the necessary privacy for the front entryway.

We were fortunate that the homeowner was able to retrieve all four pieces of the "petals".  The larger one, below, was snapped off at the point.
Just by chance, I had the perfect piece of opalescent glass in my inventory.  I used one of the larger "petals" as a pattern to cut a new one with a better point.  Below, wearing gloves for protection against the lead, I'm removing the 4th piece of "petal" which was still attached to the lead came.

Below, I've traced the existing petal onto the glass with a thin black Sharpie pen and am preparing to cut it using a pistol-grip cutter.  Curiously enough, I discovered that each of the petals were slightly different shapes.  The original creator of these panels apparently did not use a pattern for his or her creation.  I love the idea of that!
I cleaned up the glass using Goo Gone, to allow the copper foil (later) to adhere properly.
Here I'm grinding the edge of the newly cut larger "petal".  Notice that I'm using rubber finger tips to protect my fingers.  The grinding wheel itself will not cut skin but the glass .. yes.  The rubber finger tips are available in a few sizes at any Staples office supply store.  Invaluable!
Using Eric's measurements, I prepared a template for the pattern.  I folded it in half on both sides to determine the middle.  Then I laid down all four "petals" and traced around them using a lead pencil for accuracy.  When making glass patterns, it is always a good idea to use the thinnest line possible.  It will give better results, and create less trimming issues later.
Here's the pattern making process. I'm tracing it onto an old manila folder, using carbon paper.  I've pinned the layers to a Homasote work surface to be sure that it doesn't shift. Homasote is a building product used to sound-proof walls.  It is inexpensive and readily available at home improvement stores.
A closer view of the pattern-in process, below, which shows the numbering.  Note that I've marked the pattern (and later, the glass) with arrows so that I can properly position them later.
The outer edge of the pattern is cut with plain scissors.  However, the individual pattern pieces must be cut with special scissors which carve out a small space between each piece, as shown below.  This open area is taken up by the copper foil which will follow.
I'm often asked how you cut curves.  Here's how its done, below.  When you have a curve, cut a thin sliver part-way or all the way along the edge.  Then, using groziers (special stained glass pliers), carefully snap off the sliver.  Continue cutting slivers until you reach the line.  Glue chip glass is very agreeable to cut.  Opalescent glass may take a bit more nerve, but the process will work for all glass.  In cases of deep curves, it may be better to use an electric glass cutter rather than attempting it by hand.
And here is the glass, cut and ready for foiling.  Notice that it is enclosed in a "jig" or "fence."  This is to prevent the pieces from shifting as they are worked on.
The most common copper foil size is 7/32".  Since we are mimicking lead lines with this project, I've opted to use 1/4" foil.  Here you can see I'm applying it directly to the center of each piece of glass.
As soon as the foil is applied, it gets pressed onto the glass with a "fid" or flat plastic wand, as shown below.  This assures that no liquids will seep under the glass and ensures a longer life for the panel overall.  Notice the beautiful texture of the glue chip glass.
Below is the panel, copper foiled and ready for soldering.  Notice that I do not foil the outer edges.  It tends to interfere with the addition of the framing, so I omit it.
Below I'm applying flux to the copper foil, to prepare it for soldering with 60/40 (tin/lead) solder.
Below, the panel is released from the jig and the soldering of the front and back is complete.  I always use a protective mask when I'm soldering.  Look for a lead protecting mask at your local hardware store before doing any soldering.  They are available for around $15 each and well worth it.
Next is the cleaning.  Below, I've scrubbed the entire piece with powdered cleanser and rinsed it under tap water.  Notice that I'm wearing gloves.  The flux can be very caustic, as can the powdered cleanser.  Also, the rubber gloves help keep a firm grip on the panel.
Next .. Waxing the piece and installing it!  Stay tuned .. the best is yet to come .. the big reveal!

Visit our website to see more repairs, custom windows, and testimonials from our happy customers.  Thanks!