Thursday, February 19, 2015

Donations of Stained Glass for my Studio

Feeling grateful! Three benefactors donated glass to me yesterday. A woman came to my door and offered me a colorful assortment of 12 sheets of glass and a box full of pieces. They had belonged to her sister who no longer works with glass. She wanted them to be appreciated, found me online, and there she was!
Later in the day, I went to visit a fellow glass artist to purchase glass for my current project. She and her husband gifted me with a great cache of rough rolled, seedy, glue chip, !hammered, and crinkled glass.
Thank you all! The glass will be put to good use, and is very much appreciated.

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, February 6, 2015

Changing Colors in a Stained Glass Panel

This next project, completed about a week ago, is to replace the colors in a stained glass panel.  My customer bought the two stained glass panels below at an antique auction.  Notice that although the designs are identical, the one on the left features cobalt blue, medium amber and turquoise glass, while the one on the right features luminescent green, dark amber and turquoise glass.  My challenge was to change the colors so that both panels would have the green color scheme.

Here's how I went about the process of changing glass colors.  This project is primarily not a repair (although one repair was done), but its a reconstruction, which requires different techniques.

In order to do this effectively, I needed to study the construction of the original panels and then duplicate the original process.  I needed to match the glass and use the same width of copper foil so that the solder line width will match. I also wanted to reclaim the original, slightly aged brass frame.  This also required special treatment. Here we go .. (Click on any photo to enlarge).

 Many other of my blog posts cover repairs, so I won't include this one here, but below is a photo of a cracked piece of clear glue chip glass which I replaced before continuing with the glass replacement.

 At this stage, I've cracked out and removed the piece of glue chip shown above.  Since this open area now gives me access to the amber and the turquoise which I have to remove, I took this opportunity to carefully pull it out using needle nose pliers as shown.

Next, I slid a piece of a Manila folder under the cleaned up opening and traced a pattern for the replacement glass.

When working with glass, it is important to notice which side of the panel is the "right" side.  This can be either the side of the glass with texture facing in or facing out.  In this case, I've marked the pattern above with the word "smooth" which tells me how to position it on the glass so that the smooth side is facing up, which will be the correct orientation.

As I go deeper into the panel, I do not have access to the strips that must be replaced.  So here I'm using the soldering iron to melt off the dome of solder which bonds the glass pieces together.  I'm doing this to weaken the bond and make it easier to remove the strips.

Next, I'm working my way down the strip by using a diamond cutter bit on my Dremel tool.  I'm cutting into the copper foil which is wrapped on each side of the glass.  This is a potentially hazardous process because it generates very fine metal dust.  I'm wearing a protective breathing mask and running a fan throughout the sawing process. If you click on the photo to enlarge, you'll see that channel made by the bit.     

After I've cut into the foil seam lines, I'm scraping the old foil and solder with an old plastic ruler which will not scratch the glass.

Left, I "scored" the thin strip of glass by cross-hatching it repeatedly on the front and back of the panel with the oil-filled pistol grip cutter.  Here, I'm tapping on the glass with the brass end of the cutter, on both sides again, to crack the glass.

I then removed the broken glass using needle-nose pliers.  I used the Manila file pattern, to trace and cut a new piece of the darker amber glass.  Below, I'm using blue running pliers to snap off the appropriate size of darker amber needed for that space. (Notice the texture of the brown glass.  One side is textured, one side is flat).

Below, I've applied copper foil to the clear glue chip (on the work surface) and I'm doing the same to the first piece of replacement glass.  I'm using 13/64" foil instead of the more common 7/32" because I want a thinner solder line, which will match the existing panel. The copper foil is self-adhesive and is placed at the center of the edge of each piece of glass.

When the copper foil is in place, I use a "fid" or flexible flat plastic wand to press the foil onto the glass on all sides.  This prevents any chemicals from seeping underneath.

I have a large stock of glass shards from a variety of projects through the years.  I was able to find this one piece of turquoise Cathedral glass which is a good match to the existing turquoise in the panel.

Here, one piece of the amber strip has been replaced, as has one piece of the turquoise. (Note also the new foil around the repaired piece of clear glue chip glass).

Next, I apply Novacan Blu-Glass Liquid Flux to the copper foil lines and then I solder both front and back.

Moving along, Now three pieces of amber are replaced as well as two pieces of turquoise.

 Here's an area where an amber glass strip has been removed.  Before I prepare it for the replacement glass, I melt and scrape off any old foil and solder.  I also use Goo Gone to remove the old adhesive, then wipe the borders down with a clean paper towel.  This will assure good adhesion for the new copper foil.

Here I'm applying a strip of adhesive copper foil to the inner border.
 And here it is, in place.  Notice the wide blue tape on the underside.  That will keep the piece flush with the rest of the panel.  I will now continue to melt the old solder, peel off old foil, break the glass bond and score, crack and remove the amber pieces until all of them have been replaced with the darker glass.

Now all of the dark amber has been replaced in the panel. I'm now removing the metal hooks at the top of the piece.  I'm melting the solder bond with the iron and then sliding off the hook with the needle nose pliers.  Whenever I solder, I am wearing a protective breathing mask and I run a ventilating, filtered fan.
 After the hooks are successfully removed, I melted the solder at the corners of the brass frame and carefully tugged it away from the panel as shown.
 The brass frame is soldered to the panel at several places along the lengthwise side of the panels.  In order to break those bonds, I sawed through them using the Dremel tool.  Then I melted whatever solder was remaining.  After a lot of coaxing, I was able to pull off all four sides of the brass frame without bending or damaging any of them. 

Now the original brass frame has been completely removed and all the amber strips have been replaced.
 My next challenge is to remove the cobalt blue border glass.  I used the same technique as before, melting down the solder and scraping away the old copper foil.  In the photo below, I'm rocking the end of the panel up and down at the edge of my work station in order to loosen the glass.  Eventually, I was able to bend it to 90 degrees and remove it.

In order for copper foil to adhere properly, the edges of the glass needs to be ground down.  In this panel, as in many others of its time, the original artist did not grind the glass.  Therefore, I'm using a hand file to sand down the glass to prepare it for new copper foil.  (The blue tape is on the glass for reinforcement as I work).

To assure a perfect fit for the new green replacement glass, I've numbered each piece of the blue and I'm using them as patterns.  Below I'm tracing the green, getting ready to cut it.

Using the same rocking technique against the edge of my work surface, as mentioned above, I was able to remove all four sides of the cobalt blue border.  (Blue tape is in place, for reinforcement).
 In the photo below, all of the blue glass has been removed and the green glass has taken its place.  I've also re-installed the "jig" or fence around it, to secure it in place.  At this point, I apply liquid flux to the copper foil and then solder it alll, front and back.

Next, my husband Eric is re-fitting the brass frame to the new border. After he got the frame back in place, I soldered the corners and the appropriate spots along the lead lines.  Then I soldered the hooks back on and gave the entire panel a good cleaning with "Kwik-Clean Flux and Patina Remover".

At this point, all of the glass which needed replacement has been replaced.  The original frame has also been put back on, as well as the hooks.  Here I'm applying Novacan Black Patina with an acid brush.  This chemical reacts instantly with the solder, turning it black.  After the solder has been patina-ed on both sides, I let it set for a bit, then clean it thoroughly again with Kwik Clean.

Then I cleaned the second panel and applied Stained Glass Finishing Compound to both sides of both panels.  This serves to protect the patina and it gives the glass and the frame a nice shine.  The panels will only need an occasional dusting from this point forward.
 On the left, the original pair of panels .... And on the right, both panels in the requested color scheme.  Now they are a matched pair and will look wonderful as they greet visitors to my customer's home.  Thank you, Philip, for the opportunity to turn your auction finds into an integral part of your home .. May you enjoy them for many years to come!

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!