Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Sophistication Factor

It's been a busy week but we're going to start things out with a little lesson about making sure that your corners line up on your borders.  Nothing ruins the aesthetics of a window quicker than corners that don't fit.  The lines that make up corner pieces should line up perfectly with the rest of the border.  Stair stepping should never be overlooked or brushed off as unimportant.  In the picture below you can see how the corner piece doesn't follow either of the natural lines on the border.  I've traced its crooked path with red lines from both left to right as well as from top to bottom to highlight this very common mistake.

This next picture shows the end result that stained glass crafters should always achieve in their windows. Pay close attention to how all of the lines in the border and corner line up perfectly, again illustrated with 2 red lines.

Not only are straight lines essential to making a professional looking window, but curves should be graceful and flow without wavers or points within their path.  The window below has four corners that line up perfectly with the border.  It also has flower stems made from lead lines that flow gracefully and smoothly from start to finish.  I find very little to complain about in the picture below.


This next picture has none of the appeal that the window above has even though it's the same pattern.  The lead lines forming the stems stutter along their paths, the corners never meet with the border correctly, the border itself is more wavy than straight, and the lines that break the border into three pieces are crooked.  If you're having a hard time spotting these problems be sure to click the picture to enlarge it.  Once you know what you are looking for you'll have a hard time seeing the window for all of its flaws.

Well, now that we have that out of the way let's start things off by looking at the completed projects that we have this week.  We all know that stained glass can be a beautiful medium to express yourself in but like any other form of art it has its fair share of limitations that you learn to work around. Over the years I've discovered that cartoon stills (or 'cells') lend themselves perfectly to stained glass and Carol's Winnie The Pooh Window just proves my point.  Yes, we had to paint and 'fire' the eyes and mouth onto a piece of glass, but the end result turned out spectacular.  Like Scar just a few weeks ago, this window shows how wonderfully an animated piece can look when done in glass.  But the biggest reason this window looks so good is because Carol's workmanship is top notch.  Even the best pattern can turn out poorly if attention to detail isn't there.

I love this window as well.  Betty's Iris and Dragonfly Window is modified from a pattern that she found online.  I loved the idea but found the execution to be somewhat clunky and filled with excess lines that drew the viewers attention to all the wrong places.  So we tweaked it a bit and ended up with the gorgeous window you see below.  For comparison I've done a side by side at the end of the blog to show you what we changed.  I think you'll agree that Betty's is stylistically superior to the original.


We really are on a roll here this week because we have six completed windows and they are all nothing short of spectacular. Just look at this Magnolia Window that Cindy has completed.  This is actually Terry's design with a tweaking of the bud done by Cindy.  The colors, the work, and the textures, all make this another window that Cindy should be very proud of.  If you're looking for faults you won't find them here.

And then we move over to Paula, who is our newest student.  This is her first window with us and I'd say this window makes other students first projects look pitiful (students learning from most other instructors of course!)  Paula made this window look easy and I have to say that I'm expecting big things from her in the future.  I just love to put the pressure on!  Seriously though, this window is nothing if not perfection itself-- just look at those perfectly straight borders!

And then we have Terry's latest Duck Window.  She has this wonderful duo of ducks floating by some reeds while leaving a small wake behind in the water.  Terry went the extra mile by grinding holes into the center of the ducks heads to set the eyes thus eliminating an extra lead line in the ducks heads.  It may not seem like much but it makes a huge difference in the finished work.  And Terry's work always speaks for itself.

Also this week, Bonnie took a standard pattern and did something a little different to it that really brought her window to life.  By adding a thin colored border around the cross Bonnie has completely removed it from the background and defined it perfectly.  And using a similar yet different glass for the outer border really makes her window stand out in a crowd.  Another job expertly done.


Now we're moving to windows that are still under construction and I have to state for the record that I'm starting to think that Ann can make these small and intricate corner Fleur De Lis in her sleep!  She has all four for her newest window all cut, ground and wrapped which means that she'll most likely begin the larger (and infinitely easier) Fleur De Lis that will go in the center circle next week.  And then it's just background and border!

Becky B has started her next project and as you can see it's a Pony Window. But it's not your every day, run of the mill pony window-- it's an imaginary Pony.  Does it have special powers?  Perhaps so.  I'm sure I'll learn more as the weeks go by and Becky works on this.  She already has her ground cut out and will be working on the mountains and sky when she comes back in.

Then we have Becky S who decided to make this multicolored Cross Suncatcher that she had seen Janet make a while back.  Part of the reason she's making this is to gain some extra experience on soldering the outside edges of pieces that aren't covered in channel.  When she brings this back into class she's going to have me demonstrate how I bead my edges and then I'll let her do the second half while I watch.  The key is actually very simple-- move quickly yet thoroughly.  You want your lead to melt completely but you don't want to stay on the edge long enough to cause the foil to lift from the glass.  I have no doubt that Becky will do fine and I promise that you'll see this completed when she comes back in.

Brenda began grinding her CC window and discovered that the interlocking C's weren't readily recognizable when they bumped against each other in two places.  To fix the problem she cut a thin sliver of red glass and inserted it just below the top right end of the upper C and now she has perfection.  It's amazing how just a small 3/8 of an inch piece of glass can make something more readily recognizable.  I have no doubt that we'll see a border on this when Brenda returns.

Upon completing her Winnie The Pooh Window, Carol began working on her newest project-- a Wood Duck Window.  This is a fancier duck than we're used to seeing and although there are some tiny pieces throughout the head and bill of the duckI'm confident that Carol will be able to handle it.  After all, did you see the work she did on her Pooh window?! I can't wait to see this one completed.

Cindy has started working on this Texas Boots and Blue Bonnets Window.  This is another window with tiny pieces in it and to be honest, there are a LOT of them.  But Cindy likes working with smaller pieces of glass and will do what she normally does by working on this at a steady pace (Cindy doesn't know how to work slowly) until it's completed.  And then it will certainly be a sight.

Janet started this Modern Art interpretation of a guitar and I think it's a very original and eye catching piece.  I have no clue what she's going to use for her background but I suspect that whatever she picks will go wonderfully with the theme of this window.  She's got the hardest part of this cut out so the few remaining pieces should be a piece of cake for Janet.

Jeanne has started another Beveled Fleur De Lis Window.  She's discovered the importance of measuring rather than eyeballing measurements.  The points of a Fleur De Lis may look correct when you're place the pieces without a pattern but when you radiate lines from the points you will instantly see if a they are off their marks.  That said, this Fleur De Lis is perfect.  She has the beveled border for this already wrapped and the background glass was being cut when I took this picture.  Expect big progress next week when you see all three sections of this together.

Linda L's Poodle has certainly got a lot of compliments throughout our various classes and they've all been good.  She got her final border cut, ground and tacked into place and then applied a nice sturdy zinc channel around the edges during class this week.  The eyes and mouth on this poodle were a little more challenging than the other cuts but Linda persevered and is ready to begin soldering this puppy when she comes back in.

Lynn's Black Swan Window is really looking great.  I loved the pattern when I first saw it but having the majority of the glass cut out and seeing color on her pattern reveals just how beautiful this window really is.  Although the stone arch wasn't exactly planned for I think it really looks great and the remaining bricks talong the top will give this window a regal sense of style.  If Lynn plans on going with a border I'd go the full 9 yards and do a double border using a thin brighter color followed by a larger more muted color.

Martha's State Trooper Window is just about complete now.  With only the little 'turnovers' left to cut and just seven pieces of background glass I suspect that she'll be soldering this before you know it.  And the fun will really happen this week when Martha adds the text to the curved scrolls.  After this is completed I think that we'll be seeing Martha engrossing herself with a nice Octagon Iris window (which should occur in the not too distant future.)

Myrt has the front side of her Cross Window soldered and has taken it home with her to work on the second side.  The soldering job on the front is perfect and I have no doubt the second side will match the first.  And that means that this will be a completed project when she returns so we'll probably see  her next project get started when Myrt returns for her next class.

Rowena finished the grinding on her Humming Bird and Fuschia and then wrapped her pieces with copper foil.  She pinned them to her pattern and then proceeded to tack them together all the while being careful not to drip any solder over the edges since she didn't have her background glass cut yet.  Once the bird, flower and leaves were solid she placed them on top of a piece of her background glass and traced them out.  It's hard to see in the picture below but the two largest pieces of her background are cut and ground.  That leaves only 7 pieces of background left to cut before she adds her first border (which will be bevels).

And after completing her Duck Window Terry started working on her Flying Pig (I kid you not).  This isn't the first time we've seen this pattern done-- I know that Cindy has made a few of them and I even suspect that Terry has made on in the past.  I'll verify that rumor when she comes back in.  There's just something about that corkscrew tail...

And before we go I'd like to show you the original picture that Betty originally brought in to class so we can compare it to her finished window.  We've removed a ton of superfluous lead lines (which are always distracting), and made the flowers and bud more natural and less 'stumpy'.  Then we made sure that all the leaves lined up (just look at that mess to the right of the lower Iris in the original).   Finally, we drew in a more realistic dragonfly, and added a long, tall leaf to add balance the top left of the window.  I may be biased but I do have to say that Betty's window is far more graceful, flowing, and realistic.

And that about wraps things up this week.  Classes are set to start again tonight so the fun begins yet again!  Come back next week for a report on what happens next on our cutting tables.


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