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Archive for March, 2013

Class is over and we finished our projects with much incredulity.   We went to the last 2 hour class having no idea of how to solder our pieces and based on how long it took to cut and foil the pieces, expecting the foiling process to be long and complicated.  Instead, once we understood how to proceed, progress went quickly.  Of course, while our projects are masterpieces to us, none of them will win the soldering award and so perhaps the professionals do things a little slower and more precise.  But we had a lot of fun.

My piece turned out as expected – not really square so I am having a hard time figuring out how to frame it.  I knew before soldering because my pieces didn’t quite fit together well and the overall project was not square, that I was hoping for too much for it to magically become square after soldering.

There is a process called caning where you add a U-channel piece of metal (called a “came” or “cane”)  around the outside that gives it a finished look and holds it all together.  However, I discovered this process is part of a second stage class and so no caning.  There is almost a 1/2″ difference in width from top to bottom and in between of my piece.  So if my wonderful readers have any suggestions on how I can hang it or feel confident setting it on a window ledge, I would love to hear your ideas.  Maybe a visit to a local glass place for some caming instructions!

Completed Stained Glass Project

Completed Stained Glass Project

Lessons learned – Observations:

  1. Stained glass is a lot more fun than I anticipated, so I plan to do more!
  2. Spend more time getting your glass pieces fitting nicely first even if it involves cutting pieces several time (probably goes without saying, but I said it anyway)
  3. When nailing your pieces together, I used the horseshoe nails around the outside to hold the pieces together.  Another person actually used push pins and did some pinning in between the piece and that actually seemed to work better at holding her tiny pieces together.  I might try that next time.
  4. You don’t need to add much solder on the foil on the outside.  I tried soldering the outside just like I did the other foiled seams and made a big mess.  Basically your iron already has some solder residue on it and just dabbing the iron on a small area and then spreading it down the outside seam is enough to solder the outside edge.
  5. We were all surprised at how much solder we went through.  I was pretty heavy-handed and will try to be less so next time, but even so, it took quite a bit of solder.

It was a great class and a great group of classmates with many varied talents and interests.  Good luck to everyone and thanks for the stained glass memories!

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I empathize with my classmates on cutting glass.  I am not used to cutting intricate glass pieces, but I do have a few years of experience using glass cutters.  My classmates have had three 2-hour classes to learn how to cut their glass pieces with very little instruction in how to do it.  And while I learned several tricks that seemed to work on my particular pieces, several times I tried to help a classmate and failed in really helping them.  Inside curves and sharp points are the hardest. Perhaps if we had all known what could be accomplished in a short time, we could have chosen patterns more appropriate for getting started.  I feel very lucky to have already had some basic skills.

Despite my head start, it still took me a very long time to cut and grind my pieces to an acceptable level.  I still do not completely understand just how tight fitting the pieces need to be, but as I am foiling and assembling and noticing gaps, I am developing a better idea.  If I had more time both in and out of class, I would recut several of the pieces.  However, I am also interested to see what happens when I solder the pieces with gaps, so perhaps better for this first one to just leave as is and see what happens.

While cutting has been very challenging for all of us, foiling is simpler.  Today as my hands were busy foiling, my mind escaped back into memories of a past hobby – figure skating.  I skated in the era of actually needing to do the figure eights and while most skaters preferred jumping, I loved the figure eights.  They were the epitome of a challenge since you needed to first skate a perfect circle and then figure eight after which you needed to trace that line exactly two more times. It was wonderful! With foiling, your goal is to add the foil centered onto the edge of glass so that when you fold over the edges of the foil on either side of the glass, you have an even amount on top and bottom.  Sometimes I beat the challenge and sometimes not.

Some lessons learned from foiling:

  • Don’t overwork the foil.  Every time I thought I could smooth it out better and kept working it, I ended up tearing it.
  • The syllabus called for a foil burnisher, so I had bought one.  When demoing, the instructor indicated he preferred to use a sharpie pen or something round, to fold over the foil on the glass sides.  But I tried the foil burnisher and it really worked well for me.  I would recommend one.
  • Larger pieces were much easier than the smaller one.  I could not figure out where to hold the smaller pieces such that I was not prematurely pushing down the sides of the foil.
  • Reading glasses were required to really see the glass and the foil – yes, another sign I am getting old!

I have not finished foiling, so you will notice some missing pieces, but here is a picture of my work in progress.  Next week we solder!

Stained Glass In Progress

Stained Glass In Progress

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