Monday, August 26, 2013

Squirrel Eggs In The Attic

We're going to start this update by resuming our suncatcher tutorial that got postponed last week.  We've already covered how important it is to be precise in cutting out your paper pattern and this week we're going to stress the same thing with the cutting (and grinding) of your actual glass pieces.  If you take your time cutting your glass you will spend far less time at the grinder fixing mistakes.  Having to extensively grind your pieces is ALWAYS, without a doubt, much slower than taking your time during the cutting process.  You can spend 2 hours cutting and then spend 6 hours at the grinder or you can spend 3 hours cutting and 1 hour grinding.  No matter how you weigh it out you must perfect your cutting skills and that involves taking your time.  The first 3 pieces of the flower in the picture below have not been ground.  You can see that they almost fit the pattern already. (click on it to see it more clearly)Almost all the cuts are outside curves so simply taking our time and following the line with our glass cutter will ensure a close fit.  There's really no secret to these three pieces, it's all about following the line with your glass cutter.

Sometimes you won't be able to fully cut out a section of your glass piece because a curve is too deep.  In that case just cut straight across the curve as in the picture to the left below.  Inside curves are the most difficult cuts to make but there's no excuse for not following the line on any outside curve. Remember than an inside curve cuts INTO the piece you are saving.  Inside curves almost always require extra grinding to make the piece fit.
Remember that your piece is only ground correctly when you can see the pattern line running all the way around the glass when it is placed on top of the pattern.  If the glass overhangs the pattern at all it needs to be re-ground.  The piece is correctly ground in the picture to the right.

Now, I've skipped the important step of using pins to secure our pieces because I didn't want to obscure the lines in these examples.  What you see below is my flower with four pieces correctly ground.  To continue any further I'll need to pin them down and that's what our topic will be next week.  Remember that having your pieces fit together properly is the key to good stained glass.  When I grind I make multiple trips to the grinder.  The first thing I do is grind off any line that I see on my piece and then I lay it on my pattern to see if any alterations are needed.  If I need multiple adjustments I do them one at a time while fitting my piece to the pattern between adjustments which prevents me from grinding too much off of my piece.

Just remember that your glass pieces MUST match the pattern and you'll be fine.  There really isn't any trick --it's just like learning to color in a coloring book.  Keep your glass pieces within the lines on your pattern. People always tell me that they don't know where to grind their piece to make it fit the pattern but the answer is easy: Just lay the piece on top of the pattern and if you can't see any of the underlying line on a given area then the glass must be trimmed there.

Okay, with that out of the way let's move along to what our students have accomplished this week.
This Yellow Rose Window that Becky made has been a favorite of a lot of students throughout the past few weeks.  Becky's attention to detail really made this, her first window, a spectacular accomplishment.  There's a delicacy in this project that most beginners don't have the skills to muster but I'll say that Becky made it look easy.  I'm very proud of her work and can't wait to see what she accomplishes as her time with us increases.

Linda finished her Fleur De Lis Bevel window and brought it in for some channel and some hooks to hang it by. I have to say that the symmetry of her window is nothing short of perfection and that she's done another great job!  Just look at those precise lead lines.  I've always loved clear beveled windows and Linda's FDL project is no exception.

Terry finished her Beveled Cross Window but it looks a little different from what she originally envisioned.  The clear granite textured glass surrounding the cross was supposed to square it off but after she cut her pieces she realized that all four of her corners were out of square because the pattern wasn't drawn correctly.  Rather than fight to make all the corners line up Terry cut them into an oval and then squared that off with the seafoam green glass that she used in the cross itself.  Then she bordered it with the clear granite textured glass again and the problem was solved!

Terry also completed her Deer Panel this week and this window was completed without a single problem.  The sun went down right before I got a picture of it so you can't make out that the border is a brown/amber root beer that looks great when it's lit up.  Of course Terry's Deer Window looks great whether it's lit up or not as shown by the picture of it below.

Betty worked diligently on two projects this week.  You can see that her latest Cross Window is all cut out and mostly ground (save for the border).  She also got the triple border for her Nativity window completed.  She opted for an ornate corner section that really gives this window a church-like feel.  I'm have a feeling that we'll see this one completed and lit up next week.

Next up we have Bonnie who could have taken the easy way out with the Crosses that she's making but instead she took the time to grind smooth jewels into the arms of her crosses which makes all the difference in the world.  She wasn't sure if she'd be able to grind out such small holes but using the 1/4 grinding bit was a cinch for her and she managed it with flying colors.  These will most certainly be completed when we see Bonnie again.

Next we take a look at the two windows that Brenda has been working on.  As you can see, although they are different sizes, they share a common border.  The inner ribbon border is far more challenging than a straight border but just look at what a little extra time has done to the overall appeal of these windows.   Brenda has come a long way and I don't think there's anything that she can't handle at this point in time.

Cindy resumed work on her Star and Blue Bonnets Window and all she has left to do is cut the curved inner border and then the final outer border.  All in all that's a simple drop in the bucket, especially for Cindy.  Next week this will more than likely be tacked together and ready for solder.

This is Linda's version of the Beveled Cross Window and it's fitting together perfectly.   I'm unsure of what she plans to use for the border but whatever she picks she can't lose.   This pattern is fast becoming very popular around these parts and pretty soon we'll be seeing them made with colored crosses in the center.

Then we have Martha's Beveled Crosses which are closer and closer to being finished.  I've been under the impression that she was making six of these but when I commented to her about having all the backgrounds cut out and tacked together she informed me that she still has three more at home!  Nonetheless, she'll be adding borders next week.

Up next we see that Susan is well on her way towards completing her Panel Lamp. Everything is wrapped and one side is even completely soldered. She had to cut the long, thin outer borders into smaller sections or they would surely crack when she puts the solder on the edges which holds the lamp together. Susan must be able to see the finishing line on this project now and I know she can't wait to have this lamp on it's base.

Mary's Beveled Cross Window (I told you these were a popular design!) is all together and she even has the front side completely soldered.  What you're looking at here is the back side and it looks to me as though she only has 10 lines left to solder before this project is finished.  She'll also need a bead of solder around the outside but that's child's play after accomplishing this much.  It looks to me as though we'll be overloaded with completed projects next week with this being one of them!


And lastly, we have a new student to introduce this week.  Jeanne started making her butterfly but we won't get to see it completed until next week.  She has it all cut out and ground and has taken the pieces home with her to wrap so we can have this finished within the first half hour of her next class.  You can see the lines I've put on the glass to show where we want to start and stop the copper foil.  It's very important, especially with a suncather, to make sure that our foil start/stopping point lies where another piece of glass will touch it.  This prevents the foil from coming loose when the heat of the soldering iron hits it.

Here's some possibly odd trivia for you:  It's a little known fact that squirrels actually do lay eggs. The incubation time is 12 weeks but can take up to 13 weeks for larger species. After the eggs hatch the mother squirrel ingests the eggshells to replenish her diminished calcium supply.  Immediately upon hatching, the babies crawl into their mothers pouch where they will find nourishment and warmth for the first 4 weeks of their lives.  This process is draining on the mother so from time to time the father squirrel will take over babysitting duty, nestling the infant squirrels in his own, smaller pouch while the mother rests.  Fact or fiction?  You tell me.  :-)

Bayou Salé GlassWorks

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