Monday, June 23, 2014

Experiencing a Dummy Ache

As promised in our last update we're going start thing out this week by calling attention to something called 'stairstepping'.  It's a problem that I see in many stained glass windows that can easily be avoided. Stairstepping occures when you finish foiling your glass and don't match the end of the foil evenly with the start of your foil where they overlap.  Sometimes it's unavoidable, especially if you tear your foil rather than cutting it with scissors (like I do).  If you tear your foil it can stretch making it impossible to get a smooth connecting point where the start and stop meet.  When this happens you end up with a stair step which the red arrows in the picture below are pointing to.  If we just ignore these the solder with follow the foil and the stair stepping will become even more apparent.  But fear not because there's a simple solution and all it involves is a razor blade or a razor knife.   Just start your blade where the foil overhangs (the arrows are pointing to these locations in the pictures) and apply a bit of pressure while moving the blade to the left on the top piece of glass of to the right on the bottom piece.  If you apply a firm amount of pressure the blade will trace along the edge of the foil under the stair step.  When you're finished cutting (it should only take one pass) just pull the excess foil off with the blade and make sure the foil lines up perfectly.  Even small stair steps should be trimmed (as shown in the upper piece of glass).  But remember to make your trims BEFORE you start to solder because after the solder is applied to the foil there's no fixing the problem. 

So wow, I have to say that Terry's latest window looks spectacular when it's lit up.  I liked it when it was on the table but I love it now!  It's a great design with some excellent craftsmanship pulling it all together.  I wanted to see this completed because I wasn't sure of we were going to have anything other than Martha's State Trooper Window to feature as a completed project this week but as you'll soon see I had nothing to worry about because there are plenty of finished windows this week and Terry's is just the first.

Martha's State Trooper Window is a smashing success (but not in a literal way).   She completed it just in time for its big event and her work on it is beautiful.   She took extra care with the painted letters and it truly show in the finished window.  Utilizing two different shades of blue and yellow, this  window really lights up nicely proving that sometimes less is more.  In fact, you barely even notice the white background because the bright yellow and deep blues are what catch your eye rendering the white glass essentially neutral.  At any rate, it's a great combination and Martha should be proud of her work.

Paula's Mudkip Suncatcher is officially completed this week and her grandson loved it!  And even if Pokémon aren't your thing you have to admit that it really did turn out nicely.  The only problem is that there's another grandchild involved here and he's going to be needing an initialed Baseball Suncatcher.  That means that I know what Paula will be doing next week!

Ann's first Cross Suncatcher is now completed and I love how she used blue iridescent glass for  all of the pieces but the center.  She reversed some of the pattern pieces so that both sides of the cross have a mixture of regular blue and iridised blue making this a suncatcher without a definitive front or back.  No matter which way you look at it you will always be looking at the front!  Next week Ann will be starting a a few more of these but in a smaller size rather than this large version.


Linda F put the finishing touches on her Nativity Window and I will state for the record that her soldering has improved dramatically.  Slow and steady is the way to go and I think she's right there now.  So many people tell me that they don't know how slowly they should be moving their soldering iron and my answer is always the same:  go slow enough to see that the bead you're leaving behind is smooth.  If it doesn't look good you are probably moving too quickly.  Many students think that soldering involves 2 steps, the initial soldering phase and then the touch-up.  Nope.  When you solder at the correct speed the solder bead will be perfect on the first pass and not require any touching up.

Our final completed piece is a window that Betty made at home to help her learn how to use her new Strip Cutter.  All of the straight pieces were cut using her new tool as well as the squares.  I have to say that I do enjoy this window and I hope that the picture can show you just how nicely the amber glass stands out in it. 

Woah, just look at this!  Susan has her window almost all cut out now save for the fill ins behind her raspberries which are now officially cut into place.  Reworking the existing pieces of background to the new raspberries turned out to be very easy and probably took less than 20 minutes to accomplish.  We're about to add the actual bottles themselves into the window and we think we have a way to keep everything stable.  More details will follow on that when we get to it.

Janet's Rooster window had a slight problem this week but she managed to trek on no matter.  Let me put her mind at ease by telling her that this isn't the first time someone has brought all of their pieces to class but forgot to bring the pattern!  Still, Janet made the most of her time and cut out the red comb of her rooster and then skimmed all of the pieces till they fitted together all the while making sure that she wasn't skimming too much so that everything would still fit on the pattern without being too small.  It was almost like working on a puzzle figuring out where everything went but Janet persevered and there's certainly no mistaking what this window is even without the pattern being underneath it.

Becky S's Monogrammed 'C' Window is more than halfway ground now and it's really coming together beautifully.  Thin borders can be difficult to work with but Becky is making her double border look easy.  All of her joints match perfectly and her curves are smooth and even.  I can't wait to see this one tacked together so I can hold it up and get a sneak peak at it!

Carol's Tabasco Window is ready for the grinder!  About the only left to do with this (besides a possible border) is to cut out the Tabasco tag and paint the lettering on it.  Carol is doing great and this window didn't give her any problems at all.  Carol's going to have to start thinking about what she wants to do for a border--  Does she want one or two, and what colors they'll be.  

Linda L's Mickey On Vacation Window is looking great!  With the water cut you can now easily spot the cruise ship in the distance.  There are only three more pieces of glass left to cut on this project and then she'll move onto the double border that will surround it.  But first Linda will be taking a real life cruise to Alaska so we we aren't going to see her for the next two weeks.  We'll miss her but she promised to have a few drinks for us while she's gone!

The top section of Brenda's Baby Window is pretty well set and this week saw her turn her attention over to the nameplate that will go underneath this wonderful dog.  After that it will be border time and then we'll cut and grind the eyes so they end up in a natural position..

Martha now has her full attention on her three (or is it four?) Stylized Fleur De Lis Windows.  I know she has one completely ground and is now working on the second one of the series.  Things get easier to make when you do them a second or third time but the work can become monotonous as well.  Sometimes taking a break in between repeated projects can be a good thing.  We'll see what Martha decides to do as she moves forward on these.

I'm very happy with this piece is turning out because Shelley was having some issues with her straight lines which caused us to shrink the pattern inward a bit to get everything lined up nicely.  Just look at this window and tell me that it isn't perfect.  Shelley re-adjusted her pattern on the fly and now has her LSU window all ready for solder.  This one might very well be finished next week!

Myrt's Dove and Cross four piece window is so very close now.  I'm amazed at how easily she's making this look-- I almost didn't make the rays of light two toned when I was drawing it because I didn't want to overwhelm her, but when I saw how good it looked I just had to put it in.  And Myrt is making it all look like child's play.  She's hoping to get some bevels in for her next project and I think it may be time to call and check on her order since it's been so long.   (All of her bevels got shipped to China!)

Rowena's Grape window is moving along nicely.  With her leaves all tacked together Rowena began cutting out her largest cluster of grapes.  She has about half of them cut and will be spending her next class assembling the center cluster.  We had one slight setback when she cut the branches and forgot that the pattern had been altered.   That left her with a few branches coming out a little short, but as you can see, everything is fixed nicely now.

When Betty walked in the door with all of her leaves not only cut but ground and tacked into place, my jaw just about hit the floor.  Yes, it took her a lot of time to do but just look at this Water Lily and Iris Window!  With both of her borders now cut I suspect she'll have this finished before you know it.  And while she was waiting to get her border glass Betty started working on this sister window to the Nativity Scene that she likes so much and that Linda F has completed this week.  Look out because Christmas is less than half a year away already!

Jeanette's Grape Window is like a train moving full steam ahead.  With the largest cluster of grapes now completely tacked together she'll be moving on to the medium sized one next (the one on the right).  There's a lot of detail in this window but when it's completed you'll see just how all of that details pays off in the end by turning what would  normally be a great project into a spectacular project.

Next we have Mary Grace who now has her Iris wrapped and her leaves all cut and ground.  She'll be cutting the glass for her ribbon border when she returns next week.  I think the hard part is well behind her now because once the ribbon is completed (and it won't be hard to cut) the rest of the work will go very quickly.

Well, Cindy has all of her Magnolia Lamp cut and wrapped.  Next week she'll put it all together and then start soldering.  The magnolia lamp is one of my favorites and it's a great first lamp to make.  I'm thinking that Cindy's will be finished before you know it!

Sadly, I didn't get a picture of Lynn's Ballerina Window before she left.  In fact, it wasn't until 10 minutes after the fact that I noticed her empty spot and asked where she was-- I guess it was a hectic day!  But this is a piece of the glass that she attached to her Ballerina Window as the final border.  There are some bevels throughout the border as well and I promise to get a better picture when she returns!

And that about wraps things up this week. 


Monday, June 16, 2014

Preventative Measures

Well, we were going to cover foiling and the effect of 'stair stepping' (which is bad) but I forgot to take a picture today to demonstrate the problem.  So I guess we'll cover that next week.  :-)

So let's look at Carol's Wood Duck now that she's completed it.  Let's start with all the faults...  Well, since there are none let's start with the praises!  You have to admit that a double border really adds a lot to a window.  And her sky is seamless and joins together perfectly even after the leaves cut through it.  This is a class act through and through.

And we also got to see Janet completed her Modern Art Guitar this week as well.  As you can see her color combination work perfectly.  It was hard to tell that her background glass was clear when it was sitting on the pattern but now that it is hanging up with some light behind it you can easily make out the difference in the glasses that Janet used.  I love that the thin inner border is made with the same glass that Janet used for the bottoms of the tuning keys.  Matching a small amount of color always works well and, of course, this is another double border window and we all know how I feel about that.

Becky S has come really far really fast with her Monogrammed 'C' window.  She has her background all cut out and used iridescent white glass for the inner background sections and clear for the outer edges to help give the window a more oval look while it's contained in a rectangle frame.  The amazing thing is that the glass in the picture below has NOT been ground which means that Becky wont be spending much time at the grinder.  Taking your time cutting always pays off in reduced grinder time.

Betty certainly surprised me when she came in with her irises all cut, ground, wrapped and tacked together.  And they look GREAT!  I just love her choice of glass.  She's using two different colors of green for her stems and leaves and this week she cut out all of the darker green.  I know Betty was worried about making this project because of the number of pieces in it but she's doing just fine with it.  On second thought I take that back--  She's doing GREAT with it! 

Brenda has her Baby just about wrapped now. There's really only the background and letters that make up Baby's name left for her to cut so I think the tough part of this window is pretty much behind her. Brenda constantly doubts her abilities but she always comes through in the end. I hope she sees that she has nothing to worry about and starts trusting her abilities because this dog looks great. (And I love how she added a tongue to it.)

So, Carol not only finished her Wood Duck Window but she started this Tabasco Window as well.  We've seen this done once before and it had really turned out nice. I just know that Carol's will end up drawing just as much attention as the original did.  And she's already made great progress with just one class of cutting under her belt.  With the table and bottle just about completed Carol will be doing 'brick work' when she returns.

Cindy hoped to put her Magnolia lamp together this week but I never expected her to get as much done at home as she did.  I had told her that she needed three of every piece but neglected to tell her that she'd need 18 of each of the gridwork pieces.  Although she ended up being sixty pieces short she was able to start work on this Cat Tail Window.  It's going to be a nice one and the best part is that she'll only need one of each piece to make it! 

Jeannette has begun the hardest part of her window and decided to start right out with the biggest cluster of grapes that she has.  By getting that one out of the way first she's going to find each successive cluster to be easier and easier-- not that she's having a hard time with this big one though.  She already has the first cluster cut out and just about halfway ground!

Linda F came in and filled in a few missing pieces in her Manger Window and then proceeded to cut, grind, wrap, and finally attach her border.  There's only the soldering left to go an then she'll begin working on her next project which I can't wait to see competed.  In fact, someone else already wants a copy of the pattern!

Susan's Raspberries are ready to wrap!  Once these are tacked together we will adjust the background glass to fit the new edge of the raspberries (which are slightly larger than the old cluster).  And then after that I think we'll be ready to solder this beast and get the bottles in place.

Linda L resumed work on her Mickey Mouse By The Sea Window and cut and ground the wooden chair and table. Linda picked a heavily textured glass and decided to place the rough side up to really give a wood-like effect to the chair. She's paid special attention to the grain of the glass and by subtly altering the grain lines she's accomplish a great 3D effect for her window. Just wait until you see the top edge of her wood slats. Great Job!

Jeanne has her pattern all traced out is now ready to start cutting out her glass pieces.  You can see how she transformed a simple geometric design into a cross by stretching out the bottom end.  She has her glass picked out and will be ready to start cutting it when she returns.

Terry brought her Convex Geometric Window all cut out and ground, just waiting to be wrapped so she diligently went to work and ended up taking home a window ready to be soldered.  Knowing Terry this could very well be finished when she comes back in next week!

And Martha has her State Trooper Window almost completed.  She has her letters firmly in place and everything has been tacked together.  She even got her channel attached and has begun soldering the front side of this widow in class and has taken it home to finish the second side there.  I have no doubt that this will be a completed piece next week and that's just in time for its big event.

Mary Grace cut out the flower portion of her Iris window and it is nothing if not spectacular.  The glass she picked (the same that Betty used) is a little odd to cut since the texture on the top of the glass is so rough-- It's almost like pushing your cutter over sandpaper.   But I have to say that the glass breaks well even though it doesn't feel like it should.  And Mary Grace also has her Iris ground so she's really doing well!  It's ribbons for her next week!

Myrt finished grinding the two bottom sections of her Cross window and then moved on to re-cutting the dove that will be placed in the upper left corner.  Myrt is really moving through this project quickly and it already looks great sitting on the pattern so I can't even begin to imagine how good it's going to look when its up in the air with some light behind it.

Paula's Mudkip suncatcher is nearing completion now.  With just about everything cut and ground (save for the eyes) I'd say she'll be soldering this next week.  I said this was for her granddaughter in our last post but I need to state for the record that it's for her grandson.  No matter who it's for, its certainly turning out nice.  There's no mistaking that this is a pokémon character.

Then there's Rowena who has her grape leaves all cut and ground.  In fact, she's so close to cutting the actual grapes it's not even funny.  You may notice on closer inspection that the oval border is now missing from her pattern.  We did a few last minute alterations on her pattern and made it more rectangular rather than oval.  The shape was just a little off for Rowena's tastes so we fixed it by keeping the same grapes but squeezing in the pattern by 3 inches.  It's still going to look great though!

And then there's Shelley who now has all of her glass cut, ground and essentially wrapped (she's taken all but one piece of her purple border home to foil throughout the week.  She planned on taking all of her border but we found one piece in the driveway and that's how that story goes.  I did wrap it for her though!  Expect to see her soldering this when she returns.

And that's it for this week.  It was a busy one with most of our students attending.  We missed seeing Ann but that was my fault-- an emergency trip to the dentist made me late for class leaving Ann to find a locked door leading her to believe that we were pulling a no-show.  Sorry about that Ann!

Bayou Salé GlassWorks

Monday, June 9, 2014

What's The Point?

Here's something that takes a while for students to accept.  It has to deal with pieces that come to a point and how much of the point is actually unnecessary.  When cutting a long thin point into a piece of glass we sometimes break off the point when removing the excess glass.  And even if we're lucky enough to get it to break cleanly a lot of times the point will break while grinding it.   Usually this isn't the end of the world as many students would believe.  To see what I mean just look at this example.  I managed to get this 10 inch long piece of glass cut and ground without losing any of the sharp point to the right of the piece.  Not bad, huh? 

But it's not entirely necessary because, as you can see in the next picture, when I wrap my piece with copper foil I end  up losing a good portion of that point under the foil.  That means that it will end up being covered in lead even though the point exists underneath it all.  In fact, in this example I end up losing almost 1 inch of my point to foil!   So the next time you end up breaking a point off of your glass try using it anyway.  Most times no one will ever know because the point would have been covered with solder anyway.

Now let's move on to our student's work and in doing so we'll start things off with Ann's latest  Fleur De Lis 'L' Window which turned out to be just beautiful.  This is her third window in this series and she's really got it down to a science now.  If you blink you might miss the fact that she was working on one and just see the finished product!  She has another to do but for now she's going to take a bit of a break and work on something else.

Terry's latest Fleur De Lis window is completed and ready to hang.  This is another window that Terry drew up completely on her own and I'd say she's got that whole perfect symmetry thing going on quite well for herself.  Even the grain of her glass matches perfectly when comparing the right and left sides of her FDL and that says a lot about her work.

And Cindy finished the work on her Stained Glass Window Repair and it turned out wonderfully.   It's gone from a piece ready for the garbage to a piece ready for hanging. 

Here's a look at the 'round' window that Myrt has begun making.   She needed something with a cross in the center with rays radiating outward from the center and a dove in the upper left panel.  The problem was that there are wooden slats sectioning the window into 4 equal pieces.  Even though it's broken up I think the cross is plainly evident so it all works out in the end.  Sadly, Myrt had the dove all cut out but the pieces slid off her board and broke which means one thing:  RE-CUT!  I really think this is going to look great when it's completed.

This is Terry's latest design which is a geometric convex design --judging by the curved corners.  She's working quickly on this and managed to get a lot cut out before she called it a night.  But that's just S.T.O.P. (Standard Terry Operating Procedure)

This is Mudkip and if you don't have access to video game playing children you might not recognize it as a Pokémon character.  Paula is making this bright suncatcher for her granddaughter and it's already looking like a winner!  I've discovered that determining it's gender isn't nearly as easy as you might think.  Go ahead and look it up for yourself (if you dare!)

Becky B has begun grinding her Pony Window and she's doing a GREAT job! We've lost the pattern pieces for the hooves so we're just leaving them empty until everything is tacked together and then we'll just drop some glass behind the window and trace them out accordingly.  The same goes for the single piece of glass used in her sky.  With only a few pieces left to grind I think this will be tacked together before you know it!

I'm loving this modern art Guitar that Janet is making.  With all the glass officially cut out she's going to be soldering this soon. Janet was concerned about what color to make her final border but we all agreed that going back to the background glass would be the best look.  We were going to be cutting it very close though because she didn't have much glass left over from the background and this glass is no longer being made, but as you can see, she did it!  And the second border just adds so much to this window.

Carol's Wood Duck is ready for solder.  In fact, it's already got some solder on the front side already.  Carol took this home with her so she could work on it during the week so I think this will be a completed project when you next see it.  I almost hate saying it over and over again and again but just look at how wonderful this window looks with that thin inner border.  It really gives a window an extra hit of classiness.

Becky S has just the background and the flourish pieces left to cut on her Monogrammed C window.  I love the  interweaving border that will become even more apparent when the lead lines are added.  Actually, the hard part of this window is now completed and I expect that Becky will be able to knock out the background glass rather easily.  What you can't see in this picture is the beautiful blue/green that her borders have been cut from.  That will change once this is lit up.

Rowena got far starting on her version of a Grape Window this week.  After tracing out her pattern on to poster board and then cutting it out she began cutting her leaves out of glass.  And she's got them all cut!  Next she'll be doing her branches and grinding everything to fit.

After completing her L Window, Ann started cutting out this Cross suncatcher that Becky and Janet have both made.  Ann is making hers out of Blue Iridescent Glass and she's reversed the blue on a number of pieces so there will be a mix of iridescence and regular blue on either side of the cross.  It's actually a very neat way to make a project that technically doesn't have a front or back to it.


Martha's paint pen came in the day after she had her class with us so she didn't have it in time for class.  But rather than waste time she resumed grinding the Stylized Fleur De Lis Windows that she's had cut out for a while now.  Expect to see her Louisiana State Trooper Window completed when she comes back in because she'll have her letters baked onto the glass leaving the window ready for solder.

This is Jeannette's Grape Window and it's really coming along nicely.  With all of her leaves cut, ground, wrapped and tacked together Jeannette is going to start cutting and grinding her grapes one cluster at a time.  It's not going to be hard at all, just a little tedious when it comes to grinding and wrapping all of those little similar pieces.  Look for a cluster to be finished when you see this again in our next update.

Lynn is just one border away from having all of her Black Swan Ballerina Window all cut out.  Her final border will be the very light pink that she used in this ballerina's slippers.  The double border she's making will add so much to this design (not that it needs it!)  She's also incorporating a few bevels so look out!

Cindy has begun cutting glass for a 11" Magnolia Lamp.  This is Cindy's first lamp but she is eager to make it and already has the pedal to the metal on this project.  With her flower petals all cut and ground I suspect that she'll be using the pistol grip cutter when she returns to cut out her background gridwork.

Jeanne liked this design that she saw on our website and decided to make a few changes to it, the biggest of which is to make it resemble a cross.  What you see below is the original design but just wait until you see how great it looks now that Jeanne has re-arranged it a bit.  There are still a few issues to work around but the centerpiece has been altered perfectly.

And, in the end, I'm going to show you this wonderful Iris Window that Mary Grace will begin cutting out next week.  We've made a few slight modifications to the pattern from the original design that I drew up over a year ago so that the leaves flow more naturally.   Expect to see Mary Grace cutting glass for this during her next class.

So that wraps things up this week.  Look for another update shortly along with some more tips to help make your stained glass look like it's been made by a professional.