Thursday, March 5, 2009

Weekend Workshop (February 2009)

We had our first Weekend Workshop of the year on February 21st and 22nd. Bill joined us during the 2 day class and left with a stained glass Bear window. At first he was worried that he'd bit off a little more than he could chew but in the end everything worked out just fine. In fact, better than fine. Bill turned out to be an excellent student.

Saturday morning he got a crash course in cutting glass which he showed great talent in doing. Next he traced out his pattern and then separated all the paper pieces so he could trace them onto the glass. We started Bill on the green tree sections of his window since the were the easiest to cut. It's best to save the harder pieces for last so he can get some solid cutting experience in before tackling the hard parts.

Bill moved onto the blue sky next in an effort to stop from jumping all around on the pattern. With the sky cut out all all he'd need to finish the top section of the window was the clouds and some of the brown tree branches.Here we see the clouds completed and the water below. We're still jumping around a bit to keep the glass cutting from getting too difficult too quickly.

Now we're really seeing progress! Bill had no problems with any part of the process and the only thing left to do now is the brown parts of the trees.

Once all the glass was cut Bill moved over to the grinder to make sure all his pieces fit perfectly. Notice that the borders are missing and that the bear's paws are a light tan color. We never cut borders until the window is ground, wrapped and tacked together so that if it grows any we can make adjustments on the border for exact sizing. Here's Bill's window at the end of the first day, all ground and ready to be wrapped.

Sunday morning was spent wrapping all of the pieces of glass with a copper foil. This is what the melted lead (solder) will actually adhere to . I showed Bill how to do a few pieces and then helped wrap some of his window with him so he wouldn't have to deal with some of the trickier pieces.
You can see the copper foil here on the bear's face. Every piece of glass needs to be wrapped before we can move on to the next step, which will be the soldering process.

Before Bill tacked the window together he decided that the feet of the bear were too light and he recut them in the same class that was used in the rest of the bear. I agree that the change mad a nicer effect. Once that was finished he cut a border and then began soldering. This step took about 3 hours or so but as you can see he had no problems getting a nice bead along his window. I wish I had some pictures of Bill soldering but I guess I was asleep at the wheel because I don't have a single picture of that step.
All that's needed now is to color the lead black with a chemical (patina) that is rubbed onto the solder. The process is instantaneous and within 3 or 4 minutes Bill was giving his window a good bath in the sink. We don't want any of the chemical to remain on the window so Bill used a brush and some soap to clean it all off.

And this is Bill's finished window! All in all it took two 8 hour days to complete but when you consider how much work went into this I'd say he made GREAT time. His window is made up of 77 unique pieces of glass, each of which needed to be ground and then wrapped.

I guess it's safe to say that Bill enjoyed himself while learning how a stained glass window is made because he's going to be coming back for a second class next month with a friend who also wants to make a window. So look for another Weekend Workshop update in a few more weeks. Bill will certainly be a pro after the second one is finished. :-)

Bayou Salé GlassWorks

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