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Archive for the ‘Stained Glass’ Category

A local supplier of glass decided to get out of the glass selling business.  Unfortunately before he announced it to the public, he sold all of his fusible glass and supplies and hence all that was left was his copious amount of stained glass.  I wanted to take advantage of his great glass prices and knew that as long as I did not fuse two different pieces of glass together, that I could use the stained glass, so I bought some transparent iridescent pieces and also some opaque swirl pieces.

My first test was a clear iridescent glass which I cut into a circle and first fused to 1350 degrees F so I could soften the edges.  From past experience, if the iridescent is exposed, it sometimes burns off, so I put the iridescent side down.  Then I put the circle on a stainless steel floral vase former and slumped it taking the kiln to 1235 degrees F.  It came out great.

I then wanted to try a vase with a square blank and used a yellow/orange swirl glass for that vase.  The seller had told me his experience with heating the opalescent stained glass was that it needed more temperature, however I decided to keep the edge softening temperature the same.  It actually needed less temperature as at 1350 degrees F, I ended up with some needle points on the edges and needed to grind the edges some before slumping.  Similarly on the slump, I could have used less than 1235 degrees F.  The vase ended up touching the shelf, but still has a nice look to it.

I did two other tests each using a single sheet of the stained glass and fusing it to itself.  For the first test I cut a rectangle out of the 12″x12″ sheet of glass and then took the remaining pieces and cut them into smaller pieces and fused them around the outside of the plate so that it had a raised edge.  Worked great.  Since I took this piece to 1400 degrees, I ended up with a little devitrification on the glass, but overall it is nice for a candle plate.

The last test was cutting my 12″ x 12″ piece into strips and fusing them together looking like a basket weave except I left out the weave.  Took this piece to 1380 degrees F and then slumped it at 1170 degrees F.  Again it worked very well.    Still some devitrification, so I think the opal stained glass pieces are very similar to the opal fused glass pieces and temperature and firing schedules are important to consider.

Fused Glass Pieces Using Stained Glass

Fused Glass Pieces Using Stained Glass

The picture shows three of my four test pieces.  If you have access to stained glass, and want to create a piece that is basically one color or want your piece to be just a single piece of glass thick, try using stained glass!

NOTE: I learn much of what I know from reading other websites, classes and blogs and hence, I haven’t really invented anything new here.  But I am sharing what I found to work and not work.  If you have found other ways to do something similar to this, please share.  Thanks!

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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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Okay, I admit it.  I actually have little to no patience!  Class isn’t until this Wednesday night, but I just couldn’t wait to cut the flowers in their blue color and see what they looked like.  Here are my first two flowers in blue with a white center!

Flower 1 after Cutting before Foiling

Flower 1 after Cutting before Foiling

Flower 2 after Cutting before Foiling

Flower 2 after Cutting before Foiling

Yes, I realize there are probably no flowers in this color of blue.  But I liked the color!

We will have to see if I can wait until Wednesday for the next set of pieces.

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First news flash – I changed my design at the recommendation of Jackie Marr, owner of Kiss My Glass in Santa Cruz.  I visited Kiss My Glass to pick up some stained glass and supplies for the class and she offered her opinion that my existing design was too simple.  So I went through some books and chose a new one.  Check it out!

Stained Glass Flower Template

Stained Glass Flower Template

This week’s class involved cutting out our entire design in clear glass.  I have to admit that before we did this, I was flummoxed on why were doing it since we didn’t plan to use the clear glass afterwards.  I thought perhaps it was for the beginner’s who hadn’t cut glass before.  However, about halfway through the exercise, I was so glad that we did the exercise.  Several lessons learned.

First, as is obvious, practice is great!

Second, I started with the bigger outside pieces and then worked my way in to the more curvy flower petals since I knew they would be harder and decided afterwards that it would have been better to work from the inside out.  I believe it will be much easier to match the edge shapes as I move outward.

Third, curves are much harder to cut freehand.  When I was at Kiss My Glass I mentioned that when fusing curvy shapes I would just use my ring saw to cut them.  She glanced sideways at me and said, “That’s not the point, is it!”  Meaning I should learn how to do it freehand.  It is a good thing that stained glass artists believe in the grinder as it was a very much needed and appreciated tool to get the curves just right.  Perhaps with more practice…

This week, we will cut our colored and final pieces.  I may do some cutting before class at home as I am still waffling on some of the colors and I will have easy access to all my glass scraps.  I know I want to use blue for the petals, but I only bought one color blue and may borrow some fusing glass to add a little variety.  And I also bought yellow for the centers, but again I may go with a whispy white of which I have lots of scrap pieces.

I was surprised how many times I started to cut a clear piece over and I am a little apprehensive that I didn’t buy enough color.  So here is hoping I cut better with my colors!

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I mentioned last week that I started a Stained Glass class.  Most of the ladies in the class have never cut glass, so last week was spent practicing cutting.  The instructor specializes in glass blowing and stained glass and I found it fascinating how his glass cutting methods were so different from mine.  I doubt these are related to which medium we like and rather to how we learned and what we have just come to do over the years.

I learned using tools: a good glass cutter (I like the pistol grip kind) and running pliers.  Basically, you score the glass with the cutter and then use the running pliers to gently break the glass along the line you scored.

The instructor also uses a glass cutter, but then basically breaks the glass using both hands on either side of the score and pulling down.  At first this really intimidated me and I flinched each time I tried it, but in reality, it works well.  If your score is not straight and especially if an inside curve, then he takes something like a straight cutter and uses the ball on the other end from the blade, and taps gently underneath the score until you can see it run and then breaks it.

He also taught me the value of grozer pliers.  I have used these before, but typically only when cutting circles.  I learned that when my pieces are small and I am trying to cut off a small piece of this already small piece, then grozers work really well.  And in the above example with the inside curve, grozers again work really well and most of the time didn’t even require the tapping first.

Now what do I really think after cutting for a few hours trying his methods?  I prefer to use my running pliers.  But sometimes the running pliers take a small chunk out of the glass, and using my hands did not have this issue.  This missing chunk doesn’t matter so much in a typical fuse as it melts out.  But when doing strip construction, it makes a big difference, so perhaps next time I do a strip construction I will try the grozers instead of my running pliers.

Second, I really did not like the tapping gently from the bottom method before breaking.  It seemed to leave a very jagged edge.  I am guessing you grind this edge off before adding the copper foil and so it really doesn’t matter, but from a first thought’s perspective, it was not my favorite.  It would be hard to lay 2 pieces of glass next to each other for fusing and not having a gap due to some extraneous glass shard along the edge if you didn’t first grind the edge.  With my running pliers, I get a pretty nice sharp edge each time.

Last week I promised to share my template for my stained glass piece.  I have not chosen colors yet, so would love any suggestions!

My Sunset and Ocean Template

My Sunset and Ocean Template

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It is interesting how some things come full circle.  The very first glass class I wanted to take was a glass blowing class from Tom Stanton who owns Holy City Art Glass.  The class was through a community center and had a must-have-so-many-students and ended up being cancelled.  I then pursued other classes and glass mediums and eventually ended up becoming addicted to glass fusing.

Now, 3 years later, the same community center offered a Stained Glass class and I jumped at the opportunity.  Learning how to solder the lead that goes around the glass and perhaps being able to eventually marry my glass fusing with some stained glass aspects was just too good to pass up.

Last week was my first class and it was interesting to observe the differences and similarities.

The biggest difference to me is the need for a pattern.  With fusing, I usually stand at my work bench surrounded by glass pieces and just go for it.  Sometimes I have an idea with which I start, but only once or twice have I actually sketched something out.  In stained glass you need a pattern and even the width of the lines between the pieces is important.

So my first big task is to come up with a simple pattern with simple emphasized as we only have a few classes in which to make our pieces.

Since last night was mostly talking, understanding the materials we will need to get and then some basic glass cutting demos, I don’t really have any pictures to share. Next week, I should have my pattern ready for approval and can share it with you!

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