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. 


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