Flux. It's something that a lot of students know they need to use but most students aren't really sure what the deal is with it. Today we're going to unravel that mystery once and for all. Flux is a mild acid that cleans impurities from the copper foil that we surround all of our glass with. These impurities include oxidation that occurs as soon as you remove your foil from it's shrink wrapped container, the oil from our fingers when we touch the foil, and anything that may have fallen onto the foil while we were working with it (does anyone have a cat that likes to walk across your project?) Without flux the solder would never stick to the foil. I think that all of our students know this, but what they don't seem to understand is how to apply it. I like to use a short but stiff flux brush. In fact, I always cut the bristles on my flux brushes down to half their original length. Why? Because we aren't just delicately applying the flux on top of the foil-- we're supposed to be scrubbing the foil with the flux and a shorter brush makes this far easier. (Imagine what it would be like cleaning your bathtub with a liquid cleaner and a paintbrush.) Long brushes also tend to leave too much flux behind (you should never see puddles of flux on your window while soldering). I rub vigorously back and forth about 4 or 5 times over each of my lines before moving on. Neatness doesn't matter here. On the second side of your window too much flux can cause problems but not nearly as much a problem as having too little flux will cause. When you see that solder isn't sticking to your foil you need more flux. Don't be afraid of it-- the rougher you are in applying it with your flux brush, the better your solder will flow. Never just brush once over the foil and think it's done. And lastly, never leave your brush in your bottle of flux. This just destroys the brush quicker and softens up the bristles even more.
Okay, we have two completed projects this week and we're going to start things off with Janet who completed her Angel Window. I have to say that it looks great with the added background and border. The iridescent wings have just enough color and texture to separate them from the clear background glass and her border choice is perfect as well. By using a clear background along with a clear border your eye goes straight to the angel.
And Martha completed her last Stylized Fleur De Lis Window this week and it looks even better than the last one. Her soldering was spot on and her choice of color for the background is a perfect fit. Martha should certainly be proud of the work she did on this.
Jeannette got all of her cabinet window (or should I say 'cabennette' window?) cut, ground, wrapped and tacked. These beveled windows are usually quick to make (once you've done a few of them you don't even need a pattern to make one) and I see no reason why this won't be completely soldered when she returns next week.
Becky's impromptu version of a Double Sunflower Window is all cut out now. Once her background was wrapped and tacked into place we were able to move on to the clear textured border which Becky will attach next week. This border takes a little longer to do than other borders because so much of the main design cuts into it. But it's a look I've always loved.
Then there's Betty's Double Sunflower Window which is nearing completion now that she has her border cut and tacked. I'm very thrilled to see how nicely she's managed to grind all of the curves in this window-- everything is very graceful without any sharp points or divots to break the flow of the leaves and flower petals. This is yet another window that will most likely be completed next week.
Bonnie's Round Magnolia Window has its zinc channel attached and the front side is all soldered. She's taken it home to solder the back side so I know we'll see this completed when she comes back in. The black lead lines are going to be the coup de gràce of this window and I think Bonnie is going to be very happy that she left it round rather than squaring it off.
Brenda made all but the borders of this Cross Window while she was at home last week. She came in with it and begged me to agree with her that it was nothing but mistakes and faults, but I couldn't agree with her-- it's perfect! With her borders now attached I'm sure we'll see this hanging next week.
Carol's LSU Window just needs a little more solder on the second side and it's going to be completed. Nothing on this pattern gave Carol a hard time and I saw a very big improvement in her wrapping skills. Straight lines always make flaws more obvious and there's not a flaw in this window.
Linda L finished another of her ribbon suncatchers (which I didn't get a picture of) by surrounding it with wire and then began working on 2 Ribbon Boxes. She's got her ribbons cut, ground and tacked together which means that she'll cut the backgrounds when she returns to class. Once the lids are completed she'll be able to move to the box bottoms.
Cindy's Calla Lily Window has been wrapped and tacked. After getting the border cut she ground it and and started wrapping the pieces. I have a sneaking suspicion that this will be ready for channel and hooks when it comes back in.
Ann is very close to completing her two Fleur De Lis Windows. I think that the only real work left to be done is on the Initial Window so there's a good chance that she'll finish this these when she comes in.
Jeanne has her Stylized Cross center all tacked together and will be working on background and accent diamonds when she returns. The diamonds won't take long at all thanks to the strip cutter. Once they're skimmed and wrapped Jeanne will make her long vertical cuts in her background glass.
Linda F has flown through her Birdhouse Window, figuratively speaking of course! We had reduced the number of pieces in each of the flowers but I think that the original, more ornate flowers wouldn't have given Linda any trouble at all. Not that there's anything wrong with this version of her window though. Students are already talking about how good this looks already!
My oh my, just look at the incredible work Mary Grace did this week. She traced out her pattern, traced her pieces onto glass and then managed to get it all cut out as well. And not just cut out, but cut out in a wonderful way! She said she took her time but she accomplish a lot in one class. Plus, her cutting is amazing on this. This won't take much time to grind at all! Color me impressed!
Terry's Heron window is all cut and fitted together. She's in the process of wrapping her border and then this will just need some lead and a good coloring. And some channel-- we can never forget the channel! Her border glass is very bumpy and the window is so tall that a wider zinc channel will be needed on this.
Paula's Wise Men have seen the star light. Paula chose to go with a double border on this window and although the thinner, yellow inner border was an easy pick we were all unsure what the last border should be. In the end it came down to blue or red. It was a close vote but red ended up winning the popular vote basically because the blue seemed to darken the overall color scheme of the window. I can't wait to see this one with some light behind it.
And this week marks the second to last week of work on Susan's Atiba Reeb Window. It is officially soldered and now only needs a couple of baths in water, patina, and wax before she takes it home for the last time. That's all going to take a good portion of a class to do so next week we'll see this baby with some light behind it. Perhaps we should all have a beer to celebrate!
Rowena is really doing great with her Deer Window. There was so much to get done this week and Rowena really didn't need any help so I basically ignored her during class this week only to discover that she needs no help whatsoever. Everything is starting to fit together like a glove for her. I really have to say that Rowena is doing great in class as her window certainly proves.
Shelley is making wonderful progress on her Mermaid Window and is just about at the halfway point of the grinding. This week I need to find out what kind of glass she wants to use for the bubbles. I'm leaning towards clear spectrum waterglass (how apropos!) but I think that clear iridized waterglass may be a good choice as well. We'll find out what Shelley likes when she returns!
This week we see that Jane's lamp is very close to be finished as well. With it all tacked together save for the bottom border row I'd say that Jane will be lighting this up very soon.
Martha also began working on a repair that she's been fretting about doing. The window was originally made in lead came and half of the background glass was broken. Then there was damage to the came as well. Of course, the background glass couldn't be matched so she's pulled the entire window apart and repositioned the remaining background pieces to form a pattern that will merge nicely with a similar blue made by a different manufacturer. I think it's going to turn out well.
This update has been ready for 2 days now but the heavy rain we've been experiencing here has screwed up our internet access. Luckily it seems to be up tonight so I'd best press that POST button before it starts raining again.