Monday, November 16, 2015

Stained Glass Cardinals Window

The design for this window was inspired by a low resolution image found online by my customers.  The finished window is 24" wide by 36" high.  Follow along to see how I created this latest project.

I prepared a few different designs for the birds with various combinations of colors for the border glass which my customers requested .. Here is the full-color computer rendition of the chosen design.

I designed the top Cardinal from this photograph.  The bottom Cardinal is a copyright-free design by Spectrum Glass. 

Here's another rendition which features a female Cardinal and a clear, textured glass border.  For every custom design, I offer many combinations of colors from which to choose.

 Here's the pattern making process.  I've got the "cartoon" or paper pattern on top of a layer of carbon paper which is on top of a layer of taped-together file folders.  I trace all the borders, numbers and colors onto the file folders.  During this process, I use push pins to hold everything in place without shifting.

The outside edge of the pattern is cut with regular scissors.  But the inside pieces are cut with specialized, double-bladed stained glass pattern shears.  They cut a thin strip of paper between each piece.  This space will be taken up later by copper foil.

Here I've traced the pattern pieces with a silver Sharpie pen onto the black glass.  I've also numbered each piece.  I use the purple pistol-grip oil-filled glass cutter and a flat ruler to score the glass.
 Scoring the glass. 

After the glass is scored, I use the metal end of the glass cutter to tap repeatedly on the front, along the score.  Then I turn the glass over and do the same on the back.  Eventually the glass "loosens" and will split along the line, as shown.


For shorter, straight pieces, I score the glass, then use a pair of these blue "running pliers" to snap the score.

There were several pieces of glass in this project that did not lend themselves to hand cutting.  Or, it was simply more efficient to use my electric ring saw as shown.  Here I've traced several patterns onto the White Wispy glass.  This is a wet saw.  Therefore, I coated all the markings with lip balm to prevent the ink from washing off.

 After all the white glass was cut, I moved onto the gray branches.  Here they are, numbered and ready to be placed onto the cartoon.

Now I've cut the black border, the medium blue border, the white wispy glass and the gray branches.  Notice that there is a metal "fence" or "jig" around the cartoon.  This will hold the glass in place as I work.

Here's a quick example of the kind of cuts that an electric saw can make .. It would be very risky to try and do a deep concave cut like this by hand.

At this stage, all of the glass for the design has been cut and trimmed to fit comfortably.  Now its time to apply the copper foil.

Here are three types of copper foil which comes in several different sizes as well.  For this project, I'm using 7/32" foil with three different interior colors.  I used the "black back" foil on the see-through glass (the reds and the pale gray of the eyes) .. The "silver back" for the white wispy glass .. And the copper for the black border and the gray branches.  The reason for using three different colors is to show the glass at its best.  The silver will brighten the white, the black can be seen through the red and will become invisible after the black patina is applied, and the copper cannot be seen since it is used on opalescent, or non see-through glass.

 Here I'm applying silver back foil to the center of the edge of piece of the wispy white.

The foil is then wrapped around the sides and burnished onto the glass using a "fid" or flexible, flat plastic wand.
 Since this piece is so large, it is also rather heavy.  In order to strengthen the piece and minimize chances of breakage, I've run many lengths of "Strong Line Internal Steel Reinforcement" through the piece.  It runs vertically alongside all of the branches and horizontally along several of the smaller branches as well as the birds. 

Here the steel reinforcement can be seen between the glass.  After the window is soldered, the reinforcement becomes part of the window and cannot be seen.  In addition to the steel reinforcement, I added some copper braided reinforcement wire as well.

 After all of the glass pieces have been foiled and reinforced, I etched my name, the month and the year into the lower right hand border panel as shown.  After the window is cleaned and waxed, the signature is barely visible.

 The next step is "tack soldering".  At this point, the window is still captured inside of the "fence".  I've applied liquid flux to all of the copper foil.  This is a liquid agent which allows the solder to melt evenly along the foil.  Then I've added small dots of solder along the intersections and at key points on the window.  This is done to temporarily lock the glass in place so that I can remove the fence.

The window has been tack soldered and the fence is now off.  I'm sliding the cartoon out from under the window.  This is to protect it from the chemicals and the soldering process and cleaning which will follow.

Now the front of the window has been soldered.  Notice that I do not add foil, nor solder, to the outside border.  This is to facilitate the attachment of the metal channel, or frame.

My husband Eric is now custom cutting and fitting a heavy brass frame to the perimeter of the piece.

Once the frame is in place, he puts the fence back on to lock it there.  Then I solder the corners and I also solder the lead lines to the frame for added strength and stability.  Shown here is a metal acid brush which a cap full of liquid solder.  After the frame is in place, I carefully turn the window over and solder the back. Then the flux is thoroughly cleaned off.

Next, I use a different metal acid brush to apply Novacan Black Patina to all of the solder as shown.  It reacts instantly.  I let it set for a while, then this gets cleaned off as well.  After the window is allowed to air dry, I coat the entire thing, back, front and frame, with stained glass finishing compound.  This is a light carnauba wax.  I allow that to dry, then I buff it off.

Again, here's a look at the computer rendition ..

And here is the actual finished window as seen on a large light box. Stained glass will look different, depending on the lighting.  That's one of the factors that make them so vibrant!

And here is the window in different light.

For more information on other stained glass projects and repairs, please click here to visit my website. 

And here are the Cardinals in their new home!  Thanks again, Lauri and Jim, for the pleasure of creating this for you, and for the photo!