Friday, April 20, 2018

Cardinals in Stained Glass

Of all the birds I've made in stained glass, Cardinals remain the most popular.  They are often viewed as a memory of those who have passed on.  I was commissioned by my customer in Atlanta to create this panel for his father in Dallas, in memory of his mom.  It's a smaller version of a window I did in late 2015.  (Link appears at bottom of post).

Computer rendition of finished panel. 

Pattern making:  Here I’ve taken the white “cartoon” or original pattern, and overlaid it on Manila folders with sheets of carbon paper in between.  I work on Homasote boards, which is a spongy industrial soundproofing material which accepts pushpins and has some “give” for glass cutting.  Here I’ve push-pinned the “cartoon” in place while I trace all the markings.  Each pattern piece has a unique number and each one is marked with the color glass.

After the markings are transferred, I cut the outside border of the pattern with regular scissors.  When cutting apart the pattern pieces, as I’m doing here, I use specialized stained glass pattern shears.  They are double-bladed and leave a thin piece of paper between the pieces.  This will be taken up later by the copper foil.

Here is the glass color palette.  There are two main types of glass, Cathedral and opalescent.  You can see through most Cathedral glass and it often has a texture to it.  Opalescent glass is mostly opaque and is a denser glass. I’m using all Cathedral glass for this project so that you’ll be able to see through the panel.  The overall colors will also be brighter.  The border glass will be a textured rough rolled glass which is different clear than the background.  For that, I’ve chosen clear Artique glass which has a light texture of short lines.  Its nearly transparent.
 Here I’m tracing one of the border glass patterns onto the back of the glass.  Cutting is always done on the smooth side.

 I take photos with my left hand, but it would normally be resting on the ruler as I “score” or cut a groove into the glass.  Shown is an oil-filled pistol grip glass cutter which is used at a 90 degree angle to the glass.  As the cutting blade digs into the glass, it leaves a small amount of oil behind which helps the glass to separate.

Now most of the clear rough rolled glass border pieces have been cut.  I’m using these blue “running pliers” to snap the score in a straight line.

After I’ve scored the straight lines, I use the metal end of the glass cutter to tap repeatedly along the score, on the front and back.  This will eventually loosen the glass enough to separate, or make it easier to use the running pliers.

Next, each piece of glass gets the edges ground in the electric glass grinder.  Beneath the surface is a reservoir of water which is wicked up to the grinding bit by the sponge. The water serves to keep the grinding bit cool.

 Here is a stack of cut clear background glass with their patterns.  It appears clear like window glass, but it actually has a light texture to it.

I hand-cut the majority of the glass, but on some occasions, I use this wet ring saw.  Here I’ve cut out a deep curve for the male Cardinal. You can see the water spraying onto the glass.

At this point, all the colors are cut for the male and now I’ve traced the colors for the female.  The two shades of amber glass which I chose for this project are antique glass.  Both have a nice texture to them and a rich color.

Here’s a photo which shows some of the textures of the different color glass.  All the glass has been cut but some trimming still needs to be done.

Here’s a view from above the panel with all glass cut.  Notice that the “fence” is still in place, holding all the glass in.  This fence will be removed after I’ve completed the “tack soldering” process.  I call this the “ugly duckling” phase.  The true beauty of the piece can’t be seen until its fully soldered and patina-ed.
 Here I’ve begun the process of applying copper foil to the edges of each piece of glass.  The foil is adhesive, 7/32”, and black on the inside.  The reason for that is so when I’ve applied the black patina to the solder, the interior of the foil will not be visible.  “Black backed” copper foil is always used on clear and Cathedral glass such as I'm using for this panel.

Here I’m using a “fid” or flat plastic wand to press the foil onto the glass on all three sides.  This prevents any chemicals from working their way underneath.
Painting the birds’ feet and beaks was a better option than cutting separate pieces of glass, due to their small size.  I used Pebeo permanent glass paint.  After the paint was allowed to dry for 24 hours, I baked it in a 325 degree oven for 40 minutes to make it permanent.

 Now all of the glass has been foiled, and the beaks and feet are done.  Whenever I do animals of any kind, including birds, I make the eyes from clear gray glass.  When the light shines through, it gives them a lifelike look.

Here I’m etching my name and date into the lower right panel.  It can barely be seen when the piece is hanging.

Now I'm applying liquid flux to the copper foil.  This is a catalyst which helps the solder to flow freely.

Onto the “tack soldering” whereby I use small dots of solder at the intersections of the pieces, and randomly throughout the panel.  This serves to lock the pieces together.

Now that the panel has been “tack soldered”, I removed the “fence” and slid out the paper “cartoon”.

Then I cleaned the flux off the panel using a neutralizing spray.

First peek!

Here’s my husband Eric using a chop saw to miter-cut zinc framing in custom lengths for the panel.

Here, Eric is fitting the zinc frame onto the clear border of the panel.  Then he put the “fence” back on to secure the frame for me to solder it onto the panel.

Here I’ve soldered the lead lines to the frame, and also soldered all the corners. This is done on both the back and the front of the panel and instantly makes it stable and strong.

Here’s the panel, fully soldered and framed.

One of two hanging hooks soldered to the upper corners. 

 Here I’m brushing on black patina.  This chemical instantly turns the zinc frame and the solder black.  After it sets for a while, I clean the whole panel again using the neutralizing spray.

Here’s the panel after its been patina-ed, propped up for it to dry. The lighting affects how the stained glass appears. I love the bright colors in this panel.

Here’s a view of the finished panel prior to waxing.  It’s up against a white wall.

And here it is after waxing, with the setting sun behind it. Now you can see more of the texture of the various pieces of glass. Before we packed it for shipping, I gave it another buffing. 

And here it is, double boxed and securely packed for its journey to Dallas.  Thank you Jeff for calling upon me to create this panel for your dad.  I'm honored for it to take its place among the rest of his art collection.
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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Bear and Moose Cabin Stained Glass Lamp

This project was inspired by a gift from a dear friend, a birch branch lamp for our log home. He did a beautiful job with it, and I thought it deserved more than just a paper lamp shade.  I decided to create a stained glass lamp shade which would match our moose and bear stained glass windows.  I had created them in 2009 and they were already hanging up above in the cabin.  There were many steps involved, so this posting has more photos than usual.

My husband Eric often collaborates with me on projects.  After he heard my thoughts, he created a 6-paneled cardboard pattern for the lamp.  It would highlight the bear on one side, the moose on another, something different on another, and then three "background only' sides.  Once he created the cardboard pattern, the rest just fell together.  Here we go ..

Pictured in the upper right is the original moose stained glass .. And on the lower left is the bear.  The moose and bear windows were designed by Dawn Lee Thompson. Next to them are my computer renditions of the panels.  The larger images are the completed bear and moose panels in the sunlight. Now onto the process of creating the six panels ..

 As always, the process begins with the patterns.  Here I've traced the original "cartoon" (or pattern) onto a Manila folder, using the color renditions as my guide for marking the colors.  Each piece was labled with a code to match the panel.  "B" for bear, "M" for moose.  I decided to add a funky tree as the third image, so those pieces were marked with a "T".

I cut the glass for three panels at a time.  Here I've traced all the red.  

And I've now cut out the red and traced the black.

Red and black and yellow are cut and now I'm cutting the amber.

Since I've collected a pile of cut glass I'm now bringing each one to the electric grinder to smooth out the edges.  This makes the pieces safe for handling and helps the copper foil to adhere.

Moving onto the greens .. Here are some of my tools. The blue is the "running pliers" which snap straight scores.  The purple is the "oil filled pistol grip glass cutter" which creates the scores.  And the black are the "groziers" which nip off smaller areas of glass.

Tracing some of the blue water.

I'm working on the moose panel here.  I've applied 7/32" copper foil to the edges of each piece of glass within the panel.  Note the metal "fence" around it.  This keeps the glass in place while I work.  Here I'm using a "fid" or flat plastic wand to burnish the foil onto the glass.

Now the moose is fully foiled.

Next I'm "tack soldering" the glass pieces together.  Before I solder, I brush on "liquid flux" which is a catalyst which enables the solder to flow freely.  I'm using small dots of solder mainly at the intersections of the glass, just to lock them together.

After the panel is tack soldered, I've removed the "fence" and I slid it off the "cartoon" or paper pattern.

Two steps have been completed here.  I fully soldered the front of the moose, installed a thin metal frame around the perimeter, then I fully soldered the back. 

 After cleaning the flux and excess solder off of the panel, I'm now applying the black patina. This is a chemical which instantly turns the solder black. A thorough cleaning follows here as well.

And now onto the bear already in progress.  Its been tack soldered and slid off the cartoon.

Here I'm soldering the frame to the panel.

Now the bear panel is also finished.

Here it is in the sunlight. The beauty of stained glass is how different it looks in different lighting conditions.

Cutting more glass for the remaining panels.  Working on the purple mountains here.  Note that I'm using a metallic color Sharpie to mark the dark glass so it can be seen.

Purples and whites are cut.

A bunch of blues ready for the grinder. I'm cutting three identical pieces at a time.

Back to the grinder ..

Here are three "background" panels in various stages. The first one has been fully soldered and famed, the second one has just been foiled, and the third has just been cut.

More glass cut ..

Here's the funky tree in the process of being foiled.

Now the lamp is taking shape.  Here are four completed panels laying flat but not in their proper sequence.

Here I'm using a Dremel tool to engrave my name, the date, and "Birch Glen Cabin" into the lamp.

Moving along well.  Here I'm applying the patina to one of the "background" panels.

Eric custom made a wooden template on which to solder the six panels together.  We positioned the panels on the template and then taped them securely together using stretchy black electrical tape.

Now it looks like a lamp!

These panels have some weight to them.  To make sure they stay in place securely through the years,  I've run a line of wire along the top and bottom edge as shown.  The wire is soldered in place.

Here's the lamp in the wooden template, clamped in place, ready to be soldered.

A view after the reinforcement wire had been soldered to the top and bottom edges.

Inside view of the lamp.

After the six panels were fully soldered together and cleaned, I applied the black patina to the newly soldered areas.

Here is a series of photos of each side of the lamp ..

The funky tree that will be facing the wall!

Eric created a crown of steel and rivets at the top which included three lengths of brass rebar that extend down the sides of the panels.  Very sturdy!

 For a special touch, I purchased a pine cone final for the top.

 And here is the lamp at our cabin on a winter weekend when we had snow on the ground.  Love it!

It's just below the bear stained glass window.

Here's a view of the room featuring both of the inspiration pieces, the moose and bear stained glass window, with the new matching lamp on the corner table below.  Special thanks to my wonderful husband for his help on this project, and to Bob for making us the beautiful Birch tree base!  We will enjoy this lamp for many years to come.
For more information on my other projects, please click here to visit my website.

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