Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Cedar Waxwing Birds in Stained Glass

Cedar Waxwings are fascinating birds .. They share their food berries with their fellow birds.  When my customer said that she'd like to have a pair of Cedar Waxwings on her stained glass window, I decided to highlight this charming practice.  Here's how I went about designing and constructing this window.

 Here are my two photographic bird models. My computer rendition is between them.  I created three similar ones and this one was the winner.

Tracing the design onto the pattern.

Here's the "pattern sandwich" .. A layer of Manila folders at the bottom, a layer of black carbon paper in the middle, and the "cartoon" or original pattern on the top.  All numbers and lines are traced through to the bottom, as well as the color of glass to be cut for each piece.

These stained glass pattern shears are double bladed.  They cut a thin strip of paper between each pattern piece, as shown.  This gives room to accommodate the adhesive copper foil which follows later.

As I cut pattern pieces, I place them into labeled recycled junk mail envelopes as shown.  I generally cut all of one color glass at a time.

Tracing the patterns onto one of the three shades of green glass which I've chosen for the project. The purple tool is called an "oil filled pistol grip glass cutter".  It has a round cutter at the end, rather like a pizza cutting wheel.  When this wheel is placed at a 90 degree angle to the glass with the proper pressure, it creates a "score" or cut line.

This blue tool is called "running pliers".  When placed at the end of the "score" and pressed lightly, the glass will crack in a straight line as shown.

Many cuts are simply too intricate to cut by hand.  In these cases, I use my "ring saw".  This is a "wet saw" which leaks a small amount of water onto the glass as the saw blade cuts into the glass.  It takes practice, but it gives very accurate and reliable cuts. Before I run the glass through the saw, I coat the markings with lip balm.  This helps prevent the markings from washing off.

Now I've traced all the green pieces onto the glass.  Notice that I use a black Sharpie for lighter color glass, and a silver Sharpie for the dark.

Moving onto the grays, here are pieces which are still wet from the saw.  I'm now set to hand cut the remaining lines.

Now I'm starting on the white-clear-wispy glass background.  I'm in the process of tracing the patterns onto the glass.

Back to the ring saw for some intricate angle cuts.  I'm wearing the gloves to protect my hands from cuts.

After the glass is cut, I run it through an electric grinder.  The base beneath the top surface contains a reservoir of water which is wicked up to the grinding head by the pink/green sponge shown.  This prevents the grinding head from overheating.

Using "groziers" to nip off small pieces.  The glass has to fit exactly right within the design, so tweaking is always necessary, no matter how well the glass is cut from the pattern.

Here's an example of the incredibly complex cuts that the ring saw can make.  These cannot be cut by hand.

This window features over 50 flat glass marbles.  In order to burnish the copper foil on them quickly and efficiently, here's a little trick.  Wrap the foil around each marble and place it into a medicine container.

Shake it up a few times and voila!  Each of the foil on the marbles is perfectly burnished. For the other pieces of glass, I use a "fid" to burnish the glass.  A "fid" is a flexible flat plastic wand.

Here's a photo of the window with all the glass cut and tweaked to fit properly. Notice that there is a "fence" or metal rail in place around the window.  This serves to keep the glass in place as I'm working on it.

Next, I apply 7/32" copper foil to the edges of each piece of glass.  Copper foil comes in three different colors on the inside .. Copper, black and silver. When the sun shines through the window, the interior of the foil can impact the color of the glass.  Therefore I foiled the white glass with silver-backed foil and the rest of the pieces with black-backed foil.

I sign and date each of my custom windows using a Dremel engraving tool as shown.  (I use it upside down for my small hand).

 Here I'm continuing to apply the copper foil to all 107 pieces of glass.

Now the entire window has been foiled.

With all my work, I reinforce the glass by running lengths of "flat braided copper reinforcement wire" between random pieces within the window.  If you look closely, you'll see the reinforcement wire between the pieces of foiled glass.  After the foil is soldered, the reinforcement wire effectively disappears.

Next is a step called "tack soldering".  I apply "liquid flux" with a metal acid brush to all of the copper foil.  Then I place a small bead of solder at the intersections of the glass, and randomly throughout the window as shown.  This serves to lock all the glass in place.

After the window is fully "tack soldered" on the front, I remove the "fence" or metal guard which has been in place since the beginning.   Then I slide the "cartoon" out from under the glass as shown.  After the cartoon is removed, I fully solder the front side of the window.

At this point, my husband Eric custom cuts 4 lengths of zinc framing and attaches it to the borders of the glass. Then he puts the "fence" back on to secure the zinc in place while I solder it to the window.

Now I've soldered the corners of the frame.  I've also soldered the lead lines to the frame for added security.  I've also removed the "fence" for the last time.

I then turn the window over and fully solder the back, again attaching lead lines and the corners of the frame.  Now the window is very securely soldered and strong.   The next step, shown here, is the application of black "patina" to the solder.  This is a chemical which instantly turns the solder black.  After it sets for a while, I clean it off using a spray called "Kwik-Clean" which neutralizes flux and removes excess patina.

Finally, I create and solder on hooks.  I wrap a short length of wire around a metal acid brush as shown.  Then I bend the "legs" of the hook with needle nose pliers.
 Then I "tin" the appropriate area at the top back of the window.  "Tinning" is the application of liquid flux followed by adding some solder to the area.  Then the hook is held in place by the needle nose pliers as I apply even more solder to get the hook to set exactly where I want it to be.  Afterward, I bent the hook upward just enough to catch the chain.  This project will be fastened close to the window frame, so we will use only one or two links.

 Here's the original computer rendition ..

And here's the finished window!  This photo is the panel still on my work bench.  Different light will show off the colors and features of the design and the glass.

 Here it is with some late afternoon sun shining through the back .. Now the colors are more vibrant, and you can see the shiny berries.

Here's an indoors view, taken in front of a white panel board.  

Here's my husband Eric installing the window ...

And here it is, in all its glory, the next morning in full sun~!!
Thank you Lori, for this photo which we LOVE and for your enthusiasm in working with us on this project.  It was a great collaboration and we are just as thrilled with the results as you are!  THANK YOU!
For more information on my other projects, please click here to visit my website.

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1 comment:

  1. Beautiful. I love the way you took time to tell us your story from start to the very finish and installing of the window