As shown earlier, I build the windows on a slab of Homosote, which is a building material used in sound-proofing. Its an ideal surface because it absorbs spills quickly, it's fire retardant, and it accepts push pins readily.
In order for all the glass to be positioned correctly, each piece of glass must be flat on the Homasote before soldering. Note below that a small bead of solder found its way under the pattern. I cut away the area with an Exacto knife and removed it. Now the piece of glass will lay flat.
Here is the window with all of the glass cut and all of the copper foil applied. I left the pen there for scale.
Now that the glass is cut, I'm etching my name, the month and the year into a piece of glass near the upper right of the window. Since the etching is color-less, it will be barely visible after installation.
Now its time to add some reinforcement to the window. Below are the two of the types that I'll be using. The top one is called Re-Strip. Its copper, the same width as the glass, and fits between the pieces as shown below. The bottom is braided wire reinforcement. It has similar strength but is more flexible. I place lengths of each of these throughout the piece. After each side has been soldered, I will be adding rebar for further reinforcement. (More on that later).
Below, I placed a length of Re-Strip in between the foiled glass. After its been soldered, the Re-Strip will not be visible.
The next step in the stained glass process is called tack soldering. To prepare for this step, I'm cleaning my soldering iron on a block of Sal Ammoniac a/k/a ammonium chloride. I place a bead of solder on the block and wipe the tip of the heated iron until the debris from the prior use is cleaned and the tip is silver again.
To protect myself from these fumes, and from the fumes of soldering, I always wear a 3M mask as shown below. They are usually available in Home Depot or Loew's. Be sure they say they are effective against lead fumes.
To prepare the window for tack soldering, I'm applying Canfield Blu-Glass Flux to the copper foil, one section at a time, using a metal craft brush. Notice that I take the flux from the cap, not from the bottle. This prevents contamination from occurring. I am not sensitive to flux, but the use of gloves is recommended for those who are. The Blu-Glass product is less caustic than most other types of flux.
Tack soldering means to apply a dab of 60/40 solder to all of the intersections of the glass, as shown below. I've done just the bottom center section at this point but I'll be tack soldering the entire window. Once that's done, the fence will be temporarily removed and the pattern underneath will be slid off. Then the window will be fully soldered, front and back, and rebar will be installed.
Stay tuned .. Its coming into the home stretch now. I can't wait to see this one off the table and in the light!
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