Friday, April 25, 2014

Stained Glass Backyard Wild Birds #1

For the past several weeks, I've been designing and creating a variety of wild bird panels for my customer in Omaha, Nebraska.  She is a fellow bird lover who saw my bird panels on my website and asked me to create 15 panels for her newly renovated kitchen.  This post will cover the first eight of the 15 birds.

Using photographs of birds, I custom designed all but 4 of the 15 panels.  Canadian designer Chantal Pare designed the Blue Jay, Baltimore Oriole, Nuthatch, and the Chickadee.  (I modified each of her designs, particularly her Nuthatch design). She is what we call an "angel designer" in that she offers her work online for stained glass artists to create limited copies.  I've recreated many of her designs through the years.  Please check out her work .. She maintains over 40 websites!

Here are some notes and photos regarding the creation of some of the bird-themed panels.

Below, I've designed a Downy Woodpecker and have traced it onto a piece of manila folder.  I then numbered and added the color for each piece.  The backgrounds of each bird panel are done with clear Artique glass.

The outer border of the manila pattern was cut with standard scissors.  The inner pieces, however, are cut with stained glass cutting shears which leave a small channel of space which will be taken up later by the copper foil.

Here, I've used my oil-filled pistol grip glass cutter to run a straight score on the Artique glass.  I'm tapping the score line repeatedly until the glass "loosens" enough to split.  This technique can be used for any cuts which are reasonably straight.  Once the straight cut is done, I go back in with a special stained glass tool called a "grozier" which chunks out the glass.

Next, I grind the edges of the glass with a Glastar grinder.  The purple sponge wicks up water from the reservoir below to keep the drill bit wet.  I'm wearing "rubber fingers" to protect my fingers from cuts and to keep a good grip on the glass.

These bird panels required several piece of glass to be cut with my Gryphon Omni saw.  They were too detailed to cut by hand.  This saw is very loud and a bit intimidating for beginners, but it does a fantastic job.

Back to hand-cutting, I'm leaning the cutting edge of the pistol grip cutters along a flat plastic ruler.  This assures a straight line.

Below, I've used a blue pair of "running pliers" to snap the glass where I just scored it.

 Below, the glass has been cut for the Cardinal pair.  Below that is the Chickadee, ready for glass to be laid on top of the "cartoon" or pattern.  Note that I work with my full-color renditions which I generate on the computer, for color and glass matching for each bird.
Here is one of the four birds designed by Chantal Pare, a Baltimore Oriole. You may purchase a set of her "Backyard Bird" stained glass patterns by clicking here.  With the exception of Chantal's designs as noted, all the other patterns are my originals, created from photographs.  All are ©Copyright Boehm Stained Glass Studios, not to be used without express permission of the artist.

And here is my computer rendition of her design.

And here is my completed panel.

Here is Chantal's Chickadee.

Here is my modified computer rendition.

And here is my completed panel.

When designing birds, or any animals, I work with a photograph of the bird or animal, to make it more lifelike. 

I have created a total of twelve stained glass birds to date for my customer.  A few of the panels have two birds depicted.  The birds represented are the Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, Chickadee, Titmouse, Baltimore Oriole, Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, Evening Grosbeak, Dark Eyed Junco, Cardinal pair, and House Finch pair.
Below, I'm soldering the Dark Eyed Junco while wearing a lead-protectant mask.  I also have a carbon filter fan running against hazardous fumes.

After soldering each bird, I spray each panel with a specialized cleaner called "Kwik-Clean".

Here, I've washed the panel with Kwik-Clean and I'm giving it a rinse under water.  Shown is the Evening Grosbeak and the Ruby Throated Hummingbird panel.

Below, I'm applying black patina to the Oriole.

The patina also must be cleaned off.  After it is fully dry, I apply Livia brand stained glass polish to the panels, front and back.
 I've been shipping the birds as I complete them, four at a time, to Omaha.  I'm at the half way point with four more birds due to arrive in Omaha tomorrow.  I've started making the patterns for the next group of birds, the Towhee, Nuthatch, Lazuli Bunting and a pair of Goldfinches.  Stay tuned .. More birds on the way!

See a short video of all the birds .. Click here.   All images are copyright © Boehm Stained Glass Studio or Chantal Pare and may not be used without permission. 

Please visit my website to see my custom windows and repairs (click here).  And if you are on FaceBook, become a fan and I'll keep you up to date on all my stained glass projects.  Call me any time at 201-600-1616 or email with your questions. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Reproducing Stained Glass Kitchen Cabinets

Back in October, I was asked to bid on a stained glass commission to recreate 4 beveled kitchen cabinet panels. The panels were in a home which had been devastated by a fire.  I recently got the go-ahead to begin the work and I completed the four panels about two weeks ago.  The contractor had me deliver them this week, while his installer was on site. The newly reconstructed kitchen has come a long way since my first visit. I'm pleased for the homeowners that they'll soon be able to return to their home.  Here is the process of recreating the panels shown below.

The top two photos were taken by the homeowners before the fire.  They served as an excellent record for me to follow.  There are two pairs of panels.  One pair is 11" x 29", the other is 14" x 29".

 Notice the beautiful colored gems at the center of the panels. 

 Here's the kitchen on our initial site visit while it was undergoing renovations.  My husband Eric took all the pertinent measurements so that I could begin constructing the patterns for the panels.

As shown, each of these panels is surrounded by clear bevels.  Since the bevels cannot be cut, they present a design challenge.  The clear "Artique" background glass and the gems must be placed onto the pattern after the bevels are all in place.  In order to recreate these windows, I needed to locate 2" x 9" bevels which are available from only one supplier. I began by making a full-size outline of the outer border of each of the two sizes of panels.

Then, using a "fence" or "jig", I made a metal border around the edge so that the glass would not shift.  I carefully laid all of the various sizes of bevels into their place on the "cartoon" or paper pattern.  Each of the four panels required three 40mm jewels in Rose, Light Amber and Amethyst, four 1" x 2" corner bevels, six 2" x 9" bevels, and either two 1" x 10" bevels or two 1" x 7" bevels depending on the width of the panel.
 After each bevel was laid in place, I made a "sandwich" of a manila folder, carbon paper and the cartoon.  I then traced the pattern as shown.  Then I cut the outside border with regular scissors, and I cut the pattern pieces apart using stained glass cutting shears.  As shown below, these are double-bladed scissors which cut out a thin strip of paper between each piece.  This thin area will be taken up by the copper foil which will be applied later.

Notice that each piece of the pattern is given a unique letter and number.  I use a black Sharpie pen to write the pattern letter and number onto each piece of glass.  This is to prevent duplication of any pieces cut and serves to keep the entire project organized. Good pattern organization is essential, especially when working with pieces such as these, which are similar in size and shape. 
 Below, I've traced the pattern onto a piece of clear Artique glass.  This glass is transparent and has random lines running through it to mimic antique glass.  It is an excellent choice for this application.
 Straight cuts are made by resting a flat ruler alongside the traced line.  I then used an oil-filled pistol grip cutter, pressed at a 90 degree angle onto the glass, to score it.  (My left hand would be pressing down on the ruler but in this case, I'm holding the camera).  After the glass is scored, I tap repeatedly along the score line until the glass "loosens" and can be readily snapped in two.
 After each piece of glass is cut, the edges are ground with an electric grinder.  The purple sponge wicks up water from the reservoir which is beneath the cutting surface.  I'm wearing rubber fingers, found at any Staples or Office Depot.  These serve to protect my fingers from cuts and also help me to keep a firm grip on the wet glass.

Here is one of the panels, fully cut, labeled, and set in the "jig".  The pieces fit well, but not too snugly.  There should be a small amount of movement between the pieces.

Now I'm applying the "black back", self-adhesive copper foil to the center of the edge of each piece.  When using clear glass, "black back" is the foil of choice if the patina will be dark.   After the panel is soldered and the patina is applied, the copper foil will become all but invisible inside the glass.
 Here I'm using a "fid" or flexible plastic want to press the copper foil onto the glass, on the edges, the front, and the back.  This is to prevent any fluid or chemicals from leaking under the foil.

Here is the panel after each piece has been removed, copper foiled, and replaced onto the cartoon.

 While the glass is all still in the "jig", I'm brushing the copper foil with liquid flux.  Flux is an agent which promotes proper soldering.  A light coating of it is sufficient.  Too much will cause the solder to bubble.

 Now I begin the "tack-soldering" process.  I'm soldering a small amount to the intersections of all the glass, just enough to anchor all the glass and prevent it from shifting.  I'm using 60/40 (tin/lead) solder, which is the preferred ratio for stained glass use.  Whenever I solder, I wear a lead-protectant face mask.  I also use a carbon filter fan to disperse harmful fumes. Safety first.

 As soon as the glass is "tack soldered", I removed the "jig" and carefully slide the "cartoon" out from below.  This will protect it from the chemicals and liquids which follow.

 Here is one of the four panels, fully soldered on the front.  I do not apply copper foil or solder to the borders, in order to facilitate the attachment of the metal frame or "channel".

 Here my husband Eric has cut lengths of 3/8" zinc "channel" to the border of each panel.  He saws mitered corners to the entire frame, for a neat appearance and added strength.

After he attaches the frame, he re-installs the "jig" to press the frame against the glass.  Then I go in and solder the mitered corners.  I also solder the lead lines to the frame, particularly on the back of the panel where it cannot be seen. These extra solder points help secure and strengthen the panel.
 After the entire piece has been soldered, front and back, I spray wash it with "Kwik-Clean" which is a stained glass product used in the removal of flux and patina.  As an extra precaution, I washed each panel with powdered cleanser and an old dish brush as shown.  I'm wearing rubber gloves to protect my hands against the harsh chemicals.

 To assist the installer, I've tagged the top of each panel with tape and markings to indicate the proper orientation.

This newly renovated kitchen has very warm elements, including dark bronze cabinet hardware.  In order to complement those colors, I custom mixed Novacan "Copper Brite" patina with Novacan Black patina.  Then I tested it on tinned copper foil until I arrived at a ratio of color which best represented a dark bronze.

 Here's the bronze patina on the solder.  The zinc frame accepts patina differently than the solder, and it appears black.  This will largely be hidden under the frame of the cabinet.

 After the patina is applied and allowed to set, I spray washed the panels again using "Kwik-Clean".  I then went over each panel repeatedly with a de-greaser and a window cleaner to remove all streaks.  Then I applied "Livia" stained glass finishing compound.  This product is a light wax which serves to protect the patina and give the glass a nice shine.  An occasional dusting or light cleaning should be all the maintenance these panels will need.

 Here is one of the completed panels, shown against a white background.
 This view shows a bit more of the texture of the glass.
Here the contractor's lovely assistant is modeling the installation of one of the four new panels.  I'm very pleased to have been part of the team who is working hard to get this family back into their home after the fire.  Thank you Groundswell Contracting for calling me in to assist you.  It was my pleasure!
To view another project where I reproduced kitchen cabinet panels, please click here.

For more kitchen cabinet ideas, I recommend this site ..

Next ... For the past several weeks, I've been working on a series of custom stained glass birds for a customer in Omaha.  I'll be posting about this commission soon, as well as a second commission for a larger bird-themed window.

Please visit my website to see my custom windows and repairs (click here).  And if you are on FaceBook, become a fan and I'll keep you up to date on all my stained glass projects.  Call me any time at 201-600-1616 or email with your questions. Thanks!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fruit Lamp Repair #7

I recently finished a commission of four kitchen cabinet panels for a contractor who is rebuilding a home damaged by fire.  As soon as I completed that, I started on another commission, this one for a newly renovated kitchen in Omaha, Nebraska.  It features 15 bird panels plus a larger bird panel.  These projects will be posted in the near future.  For this post, a recently repaired lamp  ...

The seventh 1970's era fruit lamp sustained relatively light damage in comparison to other lamps I've repaired.  Only one panel on the top of the dome was cracked.  Here's how I replaced the cracked piece it.  (Click on any photo to enlarge).

Here's the lamp with the cracked piece clearly visible on top of the dome.

 The first step in repairing any lamp is to locate matching glass.  This lamp appears to have been constructed using more than one kind of translucent green-amber glass.  I was able to locate a very good match.  Below, I've already scored the cracked piece with a pistol-grip glass cutter.  I'm now pulling out any glass which did not fall out by using needle-nose pliers.

 Now all the glass has been removed.  The next step is to pull off all the old solder and copper foil from the border of the cracked piece.  I've started the process by melting off the old solder with a hot iron.  At this stage, since I'm working with solder, I'm wearing a lead protectant face mask and I have a carbon filter fan on in order to trap harmful fumes.  Safety first.

Once I've melted off most of the old solder and foil, I'm able to use the needle nose pliers to gently tug off more of it.

Below, I'm using a cotton ball soaked in Goo Gone to melt off all the old adhesive which was left behind by the copper foil.

After the borders are clean, I cut a piece of manila folder behind the opening and trace a pattern as shown below.

Below, I've adjusted the shape of the pattern to be sure it will fit well into the opening.  I've placed the pattern on top of the glass and I'm tracing it using a fine Sharpie marker.  Notice the beautiful shades of color in this glass. I placed the pattern over a lighter part of the glass to get a good match to the adjacent pieces already in the lamp.

Using a ruler along the Sharpie line, I cut the glass using my pistol grip cutters.  Then I pressed the edges of the glass against the electric grinder to smooth the edges.  There is a reservoir of water beneath the grinding surface.  The water is drawn up to the grinding bit by the purple sponge. Note that I'm wearing rubber fingers, found at any Staples or Office Depot.  They protect my fingers from cuts and make it safer to handle the wet glass.  After the glass is ground, I run it under the sink and dry it off.

 Below, I've lined the border of the opening with new 5/32" copper foil.  This is the same width as was used in the rest of the lamp.  I'm using a "fid" or flexible plastic wand to press the foil onto the glass.

This is the view from inside the lamp dome.  I've used blue carpenter's tape to secure the piece so that it is flush with the adjacent pieces.

With the tape still in place, I'm applying liquid flux to the copper foil with a metal acid brush.  The flux acts as a catalyst to make the solder flow smoothly,

Below, I've soldered over the foil lines on the outside of the dome.  When the solder settles, I turned the dome over and fluxed and then soldered the inside of the lamp as well.

Next, I'm applying black patina to the solder after I've cleaned and dried it.  The patina reacts immediately with the solder.  After a few minutes, I wash off the patina as well.

And here is the repaired lamp.  After the piece was replaced, I spray-cleaned the entire lamp, inside and out and applied stained glass finishing compound which is a light carnauba wax.  It serves to protect the patina and give the entire lamp a nice shine.

And here's another view of the repaired lamp.  This summer, it will be on its way to Puerto Rico as a gift.  Thank you Javier and Edgardo, for trusting me with this wonderful lamp.  It was a pleasure repairing it for you!
Please visit my website to see my custom windows and repairs (click here).  And if you are on FaceBook, become a fan and I'll keep you up to date on all my stained glass projects.  Call me any time at 201-600-1616 or email with your questions. Thanks!