Monday, September 23, 2013

Sticking To The Pattern

Okay, we're back and starting off with part 3 of our basics in stained glass Lesson.  This time we're delving a bit deeper into grinding by bringing up something thta many poeple feel is an unimportant step--Pinning your piece to hold it in place.  (remember to click the pictures to see a larger version)

Our first picture is a quick refresher of where we left off.  All of the pieces need to fit on the pattern so that the back line of the pattern is visible all around the glass.  If it isn't your finished project will grow once you apply the copper foil to your glass.  The picture on the left clearly shows how the black line of the pattern can be seen even when the glass is placed on top of it.

The picture to the right shows how I've anchored all my pieces securely to the pattern using pins.  This isn't an option part of the grinding process.  Without pins your finished pieces can slide making you think that the piece you are currently grinding when it reality it doesn't.

Here is our completed suncatcher all ground and ready for copper foil.  You can cleanly see the black lines around every piece of glass (there may appear to be spots where there isn't visible line but that's only because I couldn't get the camera perfectly centered).  This space provides clearance for the foil without making our project twist out of shape.  If you grind a window and it's locked tightly together before you foil it you're starting off on the wrong foot.  Trust me.

Well with that out of the way let's look at what was completed in our classes this past week.  And in doing that we'll start by taking a look at Bonnie's latest Fleur De Lis Window.  She used a frosted background, kinda-white but kinda-not along with amber and a transparent black for the actual FDL and the borders.

Bonnie also put the finishing touched on her layered Cross Suncatcher.  This design is made with just just 3 different sized strips of green glass and 5 quarter rounds.  A pattern is BARELY required for this which is interesting because even without a pattern the finished piece always look great.

Brenda worked on her Beauty and The Beast Rose Window and had it completed but there were a few broken pieces that we had to knock out so it wasn't completed in time for this post but we'll see it next week for sure.  Meanwhile, let's look at this Flower Window that Brenda made at home.  The only reason she brought it into class was so that I could drill holes in the channel so it could be hung.  Talk about a defining piece!  Her straight lines and beautiful soldering show me that Brenda has definite strengths in this art.

Ann made this Cross Window as a wedding present and she's done a wonderful job.  Like every stained glass artists she sees flaws in her work that she wants to fix the next time she makes this pattern (that she designed) but that is par for the course.   I have never made a window that I've been 100% satisfied with it-- There's always something that the artist sees that no one else ever will and that's the case with this window.

And Ann didn't stop with her cross.  She's also began working on this stained glass Flower Mirror that she's been grinding as she's been cutting.  The left side is pretty much completed so I suspect this won't take too much longer before we see it as a finished project.

I only just noticed that the top part of Becky's Horse Window closely matches Ann's hand mirror.  This week Becky resumed grinding her pieces and when I say 'resumed' I mean 'finished'.  Everything is ready for wrapping and then Becky will tack this together and add her borders.  And those borders won't take long at all meaning that this window is very near completion.

Brenda worked on her latest Beveled Cross which features another Ribbon Border.  As I always say, it's extra work but it's work that is painfully apparent in the final piece.  This one is red and clear granite so it will most certainly light up any room it gets hung in.

Our newest student, Janet, is moving along quicker than I had expected.  She decided to go with this  Fleur De Lis Window that was inspired by a Peace Lily and she has really made short work of it.  Within her three hours of class time she managed to get this window completely cut!  Janet's next stop will the grinder where I believe she'd do just fine.

Our next three windows have stopped looking completely identical so I can now tell the differences between them and hopefully know who is making each one.  We'll find out just what I know in a minute.  First up is Betty's version of the Nativity Scene which she just loves.  And how do I know this one is Betty's, you ask?  Well, hers has amber hay under the baby Jesus

Then we have Linda's version which is almost identical to Betty's save for the color of the hay.  Linda went with a yellow glass that has a slight hint of black running through it (which is hard to see even if you enlarge the picture).  Like Betty's, this window is complete save for the soldering. 

And the last of our Nativity Scene windows belongs to Mary.  Her's is easy to differentiate from the other two because she put Joseph on the right rather than the left.  I'm actually kidding-- what you're looking at is the back of her window so it's reversed.  The big difference between the three of them appears in Mary's window because she decided to use a lighter brown for the border.  There's no right or wrong in the color selection but if you want to know which one I prefer you'll be disappointed to hear that I like both versions equally (almost).  lol

Mary Grace's window has really taken flight.  We talked about what she would do as her next step when she came into class and we both agreed that grinding the eagle would be the way to go.  Once it is ground she can tack it together and then treat it as one piece when she's grinding the rest of this window.  That prevents any pieces from getting lost or mixed up as well as making sure that the window doesn't grow when the foil is applied to everything all at once.  So Mary Grace started grinding and discovered that when you cut the line off of your pieces there isn't much left to grind!  She not only got it completely ground (within an hour) but she also wrapped and tacked all 75 pieces!  The hard part is certainly done and the rest of this will be easy.

Susan continued fine tuning her Abita Window and I must say that I really like the changes she's made.  The pattern has been heavily penciled in now so there's actually something to see this week.  For some reason I had it in my head that the bottle on the right would be tipped (at 9 degrees for that perfect amount of whimsy!) but Susan straightened it (among other changes) and it looks MUCH better.  Susan should talk to the CEO of YAHOO!

And then there's Terry who had three irons in the fire this week.  She had her blue cross window completed but I didn't get a finished picture of it.  Her LSU window just needs some soldering and she left class with her second (red) Cross window almost completely ground.  It was a quiet night Tuesday with only Terry and Brenda in but it was a fun one even without some of our favorite people being there. 

And that wraps things up this week.  With a little luck our Suncatcher tutorial will continue next time around and we'll cover the skill (it's a skill, not an art) of foiling.  The movie of the week is the original version of Death At A Funeral which everyone on Tuesday night has watched and loved as much as Russ and myself.  So until next week, may all your cuts break cleanly!


Monday, September 16, 2013

9 Degrees of Whimsey

I'm excited about this post because Susan's lamp gets to make it's debut and I really think that it turned out wonderfully.  We found out the hard way (after the lamp was started) that 4" square brass lamp caps are no longer made (3 1/2" is as high as they go these days) so we had to improvise a bit to finish the lamp off by using a 4" fence post cap.  It looked great sitting there on the work table but when we went to add it to the lamp it stood far to tall and looked rediculous.  That was when we pulled out the tin snips and trimmed its edges down to a more usable size.  And in the end--  Perfection, as you can see for yourself. 

Martha had six of her nine cross windows VERY near completion so I insisted that she finish these off before cutting the backgrounds for her final three.  There was yelling and cursing and even some wrestling on the glass covered floor but I finally got her to see my way.  You should never let a nearly completed window sit for too long as the solder gets harder and harder to clean and color.  After all was said and done Martha had no problems with these but I'm more of a 'safe than sorry' kinda guy.  And seeing how great these look I'm sure that Martha will be more than psyched to get the other three completed!

And this week we're pleased to introduce everyone to our newest student, Janet.  She was partial to red and picking the colors for her butterfly was easy enough,  She decided to go with a yellow head because we both agreed that it just flat out looked best (the red head was a bit of overkill).  Janet had no problems whatsoever making this and I have a feeling that we're going to be seeing great things from her.

Becky worked on grinding her horse this week and although she was a little concerned about the process when she came in she had things well under control by the time she left .  She's got plans to do a second version of this window only in reverse.  I think she's close to the halfway point on grinding this so she'll most likely start wrapping it soon.

Bonnie's latest FDL is nearly complete-- she's taken it home to solder so it could very  well be completed when you read our update next week.  She also worked on her Cross (which I seem to have forgotten to take a picture of) and I'm confident that piece will be finished so Bonnie may very well have two completed projects upon her return to class.

Brenda's making excellent progress on her Beauty And The Beast Rose Window.  With everything all cut and ground she spent the night wrapping glass.  She accomplished a lot and this is another window that I can't wait to see completed.  I used to make windows with fractured backgrounds like this one but I seem to have moved away from them.  Now that I see this I'm reminded at just how good they look and I'll most likely start doing them again.

Next we're going to look at our pair of LSU Windows one after the other.  This first one is Linda L's who managed to tack her pieces together and then contemplate using a single or a double border.  It didn't take long for her to decide that 2 is better than one.  She used a thin yellow inner border and then finish it off with a thicker purple border.  That last purple border just needs to be cut into smaller sections and then this window will be ready for some solder.

Jeanne came in to face the same decision that Linda L did with hers earlier in the day.  Jeanne was unsure of how to go so I showed her Linda's window which then made it easier for Jeanne to decide that the extra work of a second border was well worth the time. Jeanne went with the same thin yellow inner border followed by the larger purple border. 

I was thrilled with Mary Grace's progress this week.  After I stressed that she needed to start cutting the line off of her pieces I came back to her project and discovered that her Eagle window has certainly taken flight!  The amazing thing  is that this Eagle window isn't even ground yet.  Mary Grace has two ways she can go with this at this point and she's decided to grind and tack the eagle together so it will essentially be just one piece set into the background.  This will make it far easier to grind and fit into the landscape later on.

Terry has been busy as usual.  She has not just two but three (3!) separate windows that she's been working on and they all look great.  Since she didn't have a beveled cross for the pattern that she liked so much she improvised (something I love to see our students do) by putting 5 bevels into a cross pattern and then redrawing the connecting lines so that it all works out the same.  Terry is also working on an LSU Football window as well as her Flower Window that has everyone's attention.  I'm not sure when Terry sleeps.  LOL


Betty was unable to make it into class this week but both Mary and Linda F came in and continued working on their Nativity Scene Windows.  They're both coming along nicely and I see some foiling in both of their futures.  FYI, Mary's is on the left and Linda's is on the right.  And our newest student, Janet, likes the pattern so much that she's going to start making one next weeks as well! 

Just look at Shelley's Beach Window.  She's got it all cut out and has started grinding her glass which is wonderful.  She's making this project look easy and it already looks great even before it's been ground or soldered.  It makes me want to lay out on the beach and just relax...

And bookending things here we'll take a look at Susan's newest window.  It's only been sketched out in pencil so it's very hard to see in the picture but it's an Abita Beer window.  And I must say that there is a LOT going on it it!  But all that work will surely translate into an amazing window and there's no doubt about that!

That's wraps things up here.  Next week we'll resume our basic suncatcher tutorial and check out all of the windows that our students will have completed in the next seven days.  See you all then!


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Did the Lights Just Dim?

We haven't had a Weekend Workshop in a long time (due to family obligations) but when we received a number of serious inquiries about possibly having one we discovered that the timing worked out wonderfully so the gig was on.  In the end, three of our four interested students made it in but the loss of our fourth just made the atmosphere even more personable.  So without further ado let's look at what was accomplished by three people on a Saturday and Sunday in our shop.

The Cast:
Gerry is from Washington, DC and is a first time Stained glasser.  She's always been interested in the art but never had a way to satify her curiosity since she hasn't been able to turn up regular classes locally.

Becky is from Delcambre, LA and has always wanted to take classes with us but just hasn't been able to clear out time in her schedule to make that happen.  Like Gerry, Becky has never cut glass before but that was about to change...

Lastly we have Martha who is from Franklin, LA and who is actually a regular and ongoing student in our weekly classes.  When she found out we were doing a workshop she called Becky to tell her that this was her chance to 'sample the fun' by joining us for the weekend.  Of course she couldn't let Becky show up alone so Martha decided that she would come in to be with Becky and to possibly brush up on her skills with a refresher course on the basics.

Day 1:

10AM got here faster than expected but by 10:30 everyone had cutters in our hands and we began going over the basics of cutting glass.  Straight lines, curves, complex curves, circles and the dreaded inside curve kept everyone busy but by noon everyone was able to cut out all of the required cuts so we then  moved on to working with the patterns they had each picked out and made copies that they would then cut apart and cut their glass pieces from.

We have a series of 10 patterns to pick from for the Workshop and as luck would have it both Gerry and Martha picked the same Geometric design (although with slightly different color schemes).  Becky chose a Daffodil pattern which had about the same number of pieces in it that Gerry's and Martha's had (just under 50 pieces).

(Every time we see a set of three pictures they will always
be arranged in the same order:  Gerry's first, Becky's in the 
middle and then Martha's on the far right.)

By 1:30 we had eaten lunch and all three of our students were making progress cutting their first pieces of glass.  Confidence levels rose with each successful cut and correct use of the two pairs of pliers.   Also, cheers of happiness would accompany each piece as it was placed on their pattern bring it more and more to life!  Gerry was originally concerned that she wouldn't be able to cut the muster when it came time to cut the glass but she did so with aplomb and a stylish degree of gracefulness.  ;-)

By 4 o'clock everyone had accomplished the cutting phase of their windows.  There were still the borders to contend with but we don't pay borders any attention until the center of the window is cut, ground, wrapped and tacked together.   It took almost 2 hours to get all of the glass ground to fit within the lines of the patterns which was hard work for sure.   Becky, however, showed a stunning ability to effortlessly shape and sculpt all of her pieces on the grinder and by 6pm everyone had achieved our goal for the day at the time we hoped to complete the grinding process.  What you see below are Gerry's, Becky's, and Martha's windows ready to be foiled.

Day 2:
 After a  good night's sleep we resumed our classes at 10am.  There was still a lot to accomplish and the day would be long (but fun).  We went over the process of wrapping each of the glass pieces with Copper Foil making sure that it overlapped evenly on both sides.  It may sound easy but there's a certain amount of skill involved.  Luckily, it gets easier as you go along and no one had any trouble mastering the skill.  Before I knew it everyone was ready to tack their windows together and get to work cutting, grinding, wrapping, and tacking their borders into place.

Once the borders were tacked onto the windows we went around each of them with some brass channel (to protect the edges of the windows) and then began what I think is the hardest part of the stained glass making process--the soldering.  These are our three windows just before they're about to receive their final finishing solder application.  Of course, we don't simply squirt the lead on from a tube, we actually melt it onto the windows using a soldering iron.  It can be intimidating, but only at first.

It takes a while to solder a window-- you can't rush the process because the lead will only flow evenly at one speed.  If you move too quickly you end up with bumpy, ragged solder lines.  On the other hand, if you move too slowly your solder will flow through to the other side and the heat will most likely crack your glass.  Martha will be the first say that there is an art to the soldering process that you can't just learn over night.  But in the end it was surely Martha's moment to shine because her lead flowed like it never has before in a perfect bead of smoothness almost as if it were machine made. 

Gerry was the first one finished with her window and that was right around 6pm.  She gave it a quick bath in the sink and then went over it with Copper Patina to change the color of the lead from silver to copper.  After a second quick bath Gerry's window was dried and then waxed to make it really sparkle.  By 6:30 she was admiring her window as it hung in the quickly fading sunlight and as you can see Gerry did an amazing job. 

Beck completed her window right about the time that Gerry was washing hers.  Becky's Daffodil is flawless as was her work on it.  She came in with a positive attitude which is most certainly a prerequisite to making a great window.  Trust me when I say that if you leave your doubts at the door you will be able to make a stained glass window that looks just as wonderful as Becky's.

Martha has some previous skills when it comes to making windows since she's a regular student in our weekly classes but she said that she was able to pick up quite a few pointers throughout our weekend together.  But it's her soldering ability that that really came to fruition on Sunday.  I'm not sure what it was that she did differently but her window didn't need any touching up at all and her soldering looks like a professional did it.  I was VERY impressed with her work.

And In The End:
Everyone had a great time and the two days (although very full) went by quickly with more laughs than you could ever hope to imagine.  I can honestly say that our classes and workshops are filled with more laughter than broken glass and I think that's a key part of making great projects.  If you aren't having a good time you're doing something wrong.  That said, it's always the people that we manage to assemble that make our classes as fun as they are.  Gerry, Becky, and Martha each made the weekend more than memorable to Russ and myself and we hated to see them leave.

Our students often thank us when they leave but the fact is that without our wonderful students we wouldn't begin to consider doing this again.  And we are setting new dates even as I type this.  Thank you Gerry, Becky and Martha!  May your glass always follow your cuts and your solder flow smoothly!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Pound Of Flesh

This update is a day late basically due to the fact that our Weekend Workshop was held this weekend and out 3 students wore me out!  We'll have another post shortly to show you what that was all about but right now let's focus on our regular weekly classes  and start with Cindy.

Cindy completed her Texas Star/Blue Bonnets Window and everyone was excited about how great it looked with many compliments passed around.  This was made as a gift and I certainly hope it's appreciated because I love this window.

Meanwhile, Cindy also completed this LSU window for her son, Chad.  He knew exactly what he wanted and told her just how to place the Tiger Eye, the LSU and the Football.  Then he came up with the alternating border colors to finish it all off.  But it was Cindy's hard work that really brought this window to life.


The we have Bonnie's Suncatcher Crosses which turned out lovely (as expected).  The glass jewels and bevels really dress up the crosses without going overboard making this a clean design that doesn't lose focus on the overall theme.


Last week the horse in Becky's window was missing but this week it's very obviously been cut out. There are just some green plants left to go (only 21 pieces) before Becky can begin soldering her second window with us.  And let's face it, this already looks great.

 Susan's Panel Lamp is all soldered and ready to be put together.  That means that we'll certainly see a completed picture of this project when she comes back in next week.  In fact, the sides were joined together after this picture was taken which means that only the top needs to be soldered on before this gets washed and then colored.  All I can say is, 'Wait until you see it!'


This is the LSU window that Jeanne is working on and it's all ground and ready for foiling!  I took this picture before the last 2 pieces were officially ground, but rest assured that they have been fitted into place and Jeanne has taken this home with her so she can tack it together when she comes back in and then add her final borders.


Bonnie resumed work on her Fleur De Lis Window and her Holy Mother Of All Crosses!  There's still one more outside trim to add to the cross but it's already shaping up to be something spectacular.  And the nice thing is that it's VERY easy to make.

I have to officially state that I'm so thrilled with Shelley's work!  This window hasn't even been ground and it's already fitting together well enough for us to know what everything is in it.  with just the sky and a bird left to cut I'm suspecting that Shelley will be grinding this before we know it.


This is another window that I can't wait to see completed.  I love the circle border in a rectangle border design and the Rose inside it looks great.  Beauty And The Beast's version has nothing on this one! Brenda really accomplished a lot this week and this window is going to be another crowning achievement for her.


Martha has four of her Cross windows so nearly completed that it's almost a lie to say that they aren't finished.  All they need are some hooks and these will be set.  She has 5 others to go with 2 of them just needing minor touch ups and hooks.  I'd say her work here is almost done!


Betty, Linda and Mary have all made excellent progress on their  Nativity windows.  In the end there are minute differences between the three windows but not really enough to merit going over the same points three different times so I'm putting them all together so you can click on the picture and check them all out on a larger view side to side so you can hunt for the differences yourself.  :-)

Linda L came in and started wrapping her version of the 3D LSU window.  By the time she left it was completely foiled which means that when she returns next week she'll tack it, add the 2 borders and then tack it together some more.  I think she'll easily manage that in one class so I'm expecting to see this completed real soon now!

Mary Grace has decided to make an Eagle window and although she was happy with the pattern she wasn't exactly thrilled with the number of pieces in it.  But the thing is, most of the Eagle is cut out and that's the hardest part of this window.  It fits together nicely already because all of her pieces were cut inside of the line she drew on the glass she used.  Once this eagle is together the rest of this window will be a piece of cake.

Next up is Terry's Flower window which is all assembled and basically soldered.  With the front completed and only the back left to go Terry will be looking for a new project to start next week!

And lastly we have the wedding present that Ann has been worrying about working on.  Time is of the essence but this week she got her background all cut out and the front completely soldered so I'm going to say that this will definitely be completed on time.  Ann won't be in with us next week so we'll see this finished up the following week which is in time for the wedding.  What you're looking at is the back side so you can see there isn't much soldering left to be done. 

Hopefully we'll return to our suncatcher lesson next week (I really don't see anything that will stop that.)   There's going to be a second post before the end of this week so you can see exactly what went on in our Weekend Workshop so be on the lookout for that update shortly!

Bayou Salé GlassWorks