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.
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.
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.
larger version of this window, please click here.
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