Monday, January 07, 2008
Making stained glass
I made a tiny bit of stained glass over the Christmas holidays. Lucky for me, my cousin makes and sells stained glass pieces, and she was able to help me make this simple rectangular piece to take home.
The color in this scan is horrid, and you are looking at the back of the piece, but at least you can get an idea of the frost pattern on the three transparent panels. I chose a green blue translucent glass with some milky white clouds for the top and bottom of the piece. The two pieces of glass that look clear in this picture are actually a very light blue/gray, and the center piece is aqua or light blue colored.
It was so interesting to make! First we pawed through her bins of scrap glass, looking for pieces that inspired us. I thought the color values of these three worked, and I was very taken with the jack frost effect.
Then, we drew a pattern on paper and cut it out. We had to shape our scrap glass pieces to match the drawn patterns by scoring, cutting and grinding each component. I was very glad to be making a straight-edged piece during these steps!
We then foiled the edges of our bits with copper tape. The tape is sticky on one side. You have to pull off the paper backer and as you do that, you place the glass edge right along the center line of the tape. We burnished the tape down to the glass to make it as smooth as possible. At this point we put our pieces together again to make sure they had a tight fit before getting ready to solder.
We used an old paint brush to brush flux on the copper foiling. The flux was very greasy to touch. I wondered how flux and solder work, and looked it up here, at Ask a Scientist.
We had to tack our pieces together with solder before proceeding to solder the whole piece. After we soldered, we melted the tacks so they blended in with everything else. We had to solder on both sides of the piece, and my cousin helped me with that part. I have to practice my soldering technique because I am very interested in glass constructions. Take a look at Sally Jean Alexander's Pretty Little Things to know why.
After the piece was finished, we made handles or holders so they could be hung. I used something cylindrical to fashion my handle ends, and just squished the middle up a bit until the whole thing fit on top of my glass piece. Then we soldered the handles on.
Here is a tutorial on soldering from Volcano Arts. It's really good!