Monday, January 30, 2017

Nothing Great Ever Comes Easily

We're starting things off this week with some information rather than an actual 'tip'.  I've found that many students believe that touching up the soldering on a window after it's been soldered is something that I don't have to do to my work.  That couldn't further from the truth.  After a window is soldered you ALWAYS have to go back and make adjustments.  In fact, most times you have to essentially re-solder the window  to get the lead beaded  the way you want it to.   This misconception of a perfect soldering job most likely comes from people watching me completely solder a window and then taking it immediately to the sink to wash it.   What they fail to notice is that I never stop soldering a line until it's perfect.  Fact is, I may go over one line 3 or 4 times before I move along to the next line.  If you give your window one coat of solder and expect it to look perfect then you are skipping the extremely important step of touching up.   Moving slowly as you solder reduces the amount of touch ups you have to do but we ALL have to fix up our windows before we finally unplug our iron.  I'm no exception and neither are you.

So with that out of the way let's see what Sheri is doing this week.   Well, well, it seems that Sheri has started work on a top secret project so we're going to skip the picture this week (and again over the next few weeks) and move along to someone who doesn't have anything to hide.  :-)
Becky S has completed her Tulip Window and it is certainly breath taking.  Her attention to detail is always amazing and everything about this is pure perfection all the way from the colors up to the grid work that lines up flawlessly.   Another job well, well done.

So Carol got two windows completed this week even though I did my best to stop her from accomplishing that goal.   Sadly, its finally happened-- I dropped a student's window!  Luckily I was able to 'catch' it with my foot and minimize the damage.  Luckily for me the window was repaired before Carol left.  You can't even tell that it hit the floor.  As for her second Beveled Window, well Carol did it entirely by herself after watching how I fit the trim around the first bevel last week.  I was VERY impressed with her work because it's not an easy thing to do at all yet Carol did it all on her own after watching me do it once.  Beautiful!

Roxane finished her Street Address Window and used a zinc channel on it so she could attach this window to her house using screws.   She's used colors with a lot of contrast so the fact that this window won't have any light behind it won't affect the viability of the numbers at all.  We call that good planning.

Terry completed her Butterfly Window and it turned out so nice that she's already begun working on a second version of it.   The changes she made on this first one were all for the better and I'm thrilled to see that she was willing to  sacrifice some work and re-cut numerous pieces to make the window better rather than settling for inferior work.  It's always a tough decision when there's wasted time involved but as you can see it's well worth it.


Cindy made this large Geometric Suncatcher and has all of the curves in it looking really smooth.  The green glass that she used is iridised and it really gives the suncatcher a distinct look.

Wow, Tasha's newest Owl is another wonderful project that is every bit as beautiful as her first one.  Alas, she's moving on to an entirely new project next week and that will be a pair of Comedy and Tragedy Mardi Gras Masks.  If they turn out half as well as this project did she'll be doing VERY good indeed.


Bonnie completed all six of her Angel suncatchers and went the full nine yards by twisting two strands of wire together for the halo's on these six Angels.  It's extra work but as they say, 'Nothing great ever comes easily'.


Susan R finished her Noel Window and did a wonderful job with it.  If you can read the word then the project speaks for itself.  Me, I say, "Great job!"  I know she told me what she'd be working on next but I'm old and frequently confused so I'll be just as surprised as you when I find out what's up next on Susan's plate.


Now, Mary is our newest student and she made her Butterfly Suncatcher without any problems at all.  In fact,  she didn't even break a single piece of glass (incorrectly, that is) while learning how to cut glass.  I, on the other hand, did!  I'd like to call it beginners luck on Mary's part but she's already proven herself to be very skilled at cutting glass and luck was not a factor.

Jeanne now has three beveled crosses cut out and ground to fit perfectly together.   She's going to wrap these and then the soldering process will begin.  Knowing Jeanne that won't take long at all.  These crosses have always been a favorite of mine but there's far more work involved in them than you might think because bevels always vary and it's hard to cut these without having to grind them to fit each bevel individually.

Linda F got all of her Mardi Gras Mask ground while she was in class and then started work on the foiling process.  She's moving along quickly with the foil and I won't be surprised to see both the border attached and some soldering done on this when she returns.

Ann got to work soldering her large Cross Window and as far as I can tell she's got most of the front side completed already.  At this rate this window will be out the door before you know it.  It's become a popular pattern as I've had to pull it out from under the table to show numerous students throughout the week.  When I do that the response is always the same:  "Wow, it's much bigger than I thought!"

 Jeannette has her Street Address Window all soldered together and the only thing left to do is to add a zinc channel to it, color it,  and then take it home.  She also started cutting out one of the popular Easter Rabbit Suncatchers and she'll resume work on that when we see Jeannette again next week.

Lara's State of Louisiana is all cut out and she'll start grinding this beast of a window when she comes back in.   Don't let the picture fool you-- this is one large window.   It already looks great through, and that's before it's even been ground to fit!

Betty now has the front side of her Fleur De Lis Window completely soldered and has flipped it over to begin working on the back side.   Since this window contains a lot of glass that's been foiled over completely we are breaking the rules by tacking the back side before she begins the actual soldering process.   Also, she is leaving the window here in the shop rather than taking it home with her because now that it's tacked together it's far more susceptible to breaks due to the window flexing on the soundboard that it's being built on.

Cindy has started working on one of her favorite projects-- Birds on a Wire.  She's already got two of them cut out leaving only five to go.  This is a great way to use up scrap glass because you don't need a lot of any one color in particular.  And it always looks great.

Brenda has her Fleur De Lis Mask tacked together and is adding a three layer border for it out of purple, green and gold glass-- Mardi Gras colors.  The first two borders are already attached and the final purple border just needs to be foiled now.

Linda L's Santa Mickey is all set to have a round border cut for it next week.   This week she cut out her background glass using something that we haven't carried before.  It's called Glacier and it's a new favorite of mine.  Although it's hard to see it in this picture I'm sure you'll surely love it when the window completed and hanging up with some light behind it.  I can't wait to use it myself.

Martha got her clear textured cross cut out last week and this week she wrapped it and tacked it together.  Next she'll cut out four background pieces and fit her cross into a rectangle which will then be bordered to finish the project.  She also worked on a beveled Fleur De Lis which is ready for its background to be cut as well.  Two projects, one student-- that's both pretty good and an excellent use of time.

Mary Grace resumed work on her Double Flower Window and has all but three pieces cut and ground.  She'll be tacking together what she has finished to cut the remaining pieces because that will ensure a perfect fit.  Normally we'd cut all of the pieces before grinding but Mary Grace lost two of her pattern pieces and since she had her glass pinned to the pattern this was the only way to make sure things would line up.

Myrt had one Cardinal cut out when we last saw this Cardinal Window and this week she has two cardinals cut out.   She's made the second one female so the colors are a bit muted as compared to the male.   The final pattern will be nailed down when we see this project again next week.

Paula is making headway on her Tulip Panel Lamp and you can see that she's got one of the panels in the jig ready to be ground.   If you're going to make a panel lamp you need to grind it and tack it together in a jig or it will surely be off when you try to solder the first panel to the last panel.  Paula's will be perfect.

Susan D's Santa Claus is almost together now but due to an unfortunate accident he's missing a chunk of his face!  Luckily, Susan will be able to replace it easily enough and it's not nearly as harrowing as it sounds-- After all, it's just glass.

Lastly, Shelley's Stormy The Cat Window is moving  right along and I won't be surprised to see it get its border pieces attached when she comes back in.  Soldering shouldn't take long on this one especially with Shelley's soldering abilities which are FAR better than my ability to remember to get a picture of Stormy before it leaves the building each week!!!

And that's it for this post but expect another one shortly as we will start reporting on the two weekend workshops that we've had this month.
Bayou Salé GlassWorks

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Sum Of Our Ambitions

One large mistake we see over and over again are curves that have points or sudden dips within them.  It may not seem like much while you are making your window but when it's finished those errors always draw attention away from the window and straight to the problem.  The top curve is perfect and smooth but the bottom one has points all over the place.  To fix these all you have to do is gently touch the point to the grinder wheel.  DON'T GRIND THE ENTIRE PIECE!  Only grind the 'high' spots.  Once you've learned how to identify these problem areas you'll find yourself fixing them automatically before your piece ever leaves the grinder.

Can you spot the two points that I didn't put red arrows above in the example below?  Kudos to you if you can!

Well, Sheri completed her Peacock Window and she's done another magnificent job.  She worries about her soldering but it's far better than anything you would find on stained glass you see in stores nowadays.  With light behind the window you can see how nicely her colors blend together.  What Sheri considered to be a brilliant orange is a much more natural color now that it's back lit. 

Cindy completed her Geometric window and will have delivered it to its owner by the time you read about this.  She's been working on orders left and right with no end in sight and you'll see what she's working on next when we return next week.

Our newest student is Tracey and she made her butterfly this week.   This is a standard project that we insist all new students make so they can see exactly what they'll be doing for the next few weeks as they begin working on their 'real' project.   Tracey's butterfly is beautiful and I'm sure we'll be seeing great things from her in the weeks to come.

Carol finished this window which prominently features dichroic bevels.  Matching the border to the glass that she trimmed the bevel cluster with was easily the way to go on this project.   And when she picked out that color for the bevel trim she made sure it matched the colored sections of the bevel.  It wasn't washed yet before she left so perhaps we'll get a real finished picture of this window next week.

It appears that Myrt is adding another Cardinal to her Cardinal Window, this one being a female.  She has the background sketched out (with some help from Terry) and will decide on a final size and extend he sketch outward when she returns.  She's got a lot cut and ground already so she's doing great on this project. 

Tasha started working on a second Owl this week but decided to use a different pattern for this one.  She's done wonderful work on this and moved along so quickly and efficiently that she only has to wrap this and then solder it together to finish it.  That's great work right there!

Rowena's Olivia Window is all cut out save for the two end pieces that bracket the letters.  She plans on using bevels for an inner border so size is critical here.   The way to make sizing this easy is to grind, wrap and tack the center section before cutting the first and last pieces.  By doing it this way we'll be able to adjust the width of the final pieces to ensure a perfect fit between the bevels that will form the inner border.

Lara started cutting the glass for her Louisiana Parishes Window and has gone through about a third of the state already!  the random colors are really going to make this window stand out nicely and she's doing a phenomenal job with this already. 

Linda F has begun making a Mardi Gras Mask and has a good portion of it cut out already.   She'll be making this as a window rather than a sun catcher so she's got some background glass involved with this piece.  She'll be adding wire work to this when it's completed and I can't wait to see her experience how easily that goes together.

Next up there's Terry who resumed work on her Butterfly Window.   She had it completed during the week but ended up making drastic changes to her pattern when she discovered that although it looked great on paper, the butterfly's legs looked muscle bound.  That prompted Terry to redraw the bottom section of this window.  She was able to get the newly designed bottom  cut out and mostly ground while she was in class.  Excellent.

Jan began a new project this week and knocked the ball right out of the park working on it.  She traced out her pattern and then picked out all of the colors for this Baseball Field Window.  By the end of the night she had most of her window cut out!  She's certainly making quick work of this and I can easily say that the rest of this window will be a piece of cake for her.

Lynn M is wrapping all of the glass in her Tree Of Life Window and has a great deal done.  There's even a good chance that she'll have the rest of her pieces foiled next week and then she'll get to decide what she wants to do for her border.  

Barbara H started working on this beveled Fleur De Lis window and she's another student who made great progress on her project this week.  In just one evening she has this window almost ready for its borders!   She's taken these pieces along home with her to wrap so we should easily see another large chunk of work done on this when she returns.

Becky S has filled in the last missing piece in her Tulips In A Vase Window and that means that she's ready to begin soldering this.   Once the front side is completely soldered we'll add a zinc channel to it and before you know it this will be completed.


Linda L continued grinding her latest Mickey Mouse Window and he's all cut and ground.  Since there's no way to put a square on this window she hasn't cut out her background pieces.  That will be done when she tacks this together so we can be sure that everything lines up to the circle drawn on the pattern.


Shelley's Three Legged Cat Window is all cut and ground now so she's moved along to the foiling process.   It's not often I can say that something 100% original comes out of our shop but I think this may very well be the first three legged cat stained glass window ever made.

So then, Betty has officially cut out and wrapped all of the glass for her Fleur De Lis Window and has begun the tacking process (you can see the silver lead in the upper center section).  Since she is using  a lot of glass that is completely covered in lead she has to get the front side completely tacked ASAP or the foil runs the risk of tarnishing.  This is a natural reaction between copper and flux and one that presents many problems if we allow it to happen.  Minimal flux is always the rule when prepping any window for solder.

Jeannette finished grinding the center number section of her House Numbers Window and then got it all wrapped and tacked together.  Then she added the top and bottom background pieces and a final border.  Then, before class was over, she tacked it all together!  Whew!  She'll be soldering this when she comes back in.

Bonnie is currently working on six Angel Suncatchers and has them all cut out and ground already.  She's taken them home to wrap and she'll be soldering these before you know it.

Brenda had seen Linda F's Mardi Gras Mask Pattern hanging on the wall and drew up her own version of it.   She symmetrified it, added a ton more feathers to the top and came up with what you see.  It's a great conversion and its very much how I do a lot of designs that I need to draw for our students.  

Jeanne has started working on two Beveled Cross suncatchers and has learned a shortcut for making these.  Rather than cutting out eight separate pieces for the 'arms' she's cut four and then split them in half to form the four extremities of the cross.  This makes for much easier fitting and a grain pattern the flows evenly across each arm perfectly.  Looking good!

Martha got all of her textured clear glass cross cut out and ground so she's ready to begin wrapping her pieces.  I love the look of this cross-- the clears give it a nice elegant look.


Susan R came in a continued working on her Christmas Noel Panel.  After cutting out the missing pieces of her glass she then ground and wrapped everything.  Before she left class she even had it tacked together.   Get ready for a Noel in January next week!  (Note the publication date on the bottom right of the pattern-- it's 40 years old!)

This week I somehow managed to forget to take a picture of Mary Grace's Double Flower Window. She had to re-cut two flower petals for a better fit and then cut out all of the leaves and background glass so she can grind everything again each other and eliminate any future problems like she had with the petals.  It's a learning experience and in the end Mary Grace is the winner because she walks away from this project learning that you should never grind as you go. 

Bayou Salé GlassWorks

Monday, January 16, 2017

Mickey Mouse: The Final Chapter

It's certainly been a while since we've had an update but we're finished with holidays and vacations for a while so we're ready to get back to our weekly schedule again.

We're going to start this year off with a tip about the curves in your stained glass patterns.  Something I see in almost all of the patterns I find on the internet (especially the free ones) are curves that are essentially straight lines.  Worse yet are curves that look like stop signs.   You should always exaggerate any curves that are in your patterns because the lead you cover them with will become an eighth inch wide thus 'softening' the curve somewhat.   If the curve is essentially a straight line then you will lose any feeling of flow in the design.  Below is an example of a bird I found online and to the right of it is the altered pattern that I created from it.   Curves should be graceful and your lines should all flow smoothly.  I feel the example below demonstrates this perfectly.

And with that out of the way, wow! Jeanne's Tiger De Lis Window really turned out beautiful!  I was worried that you wouldn't see the deep purple in a picture but it photographed really well.  What you can't see in the picture is all of the texturing that Jeanne did in what looks like the black sections of this design-- they're all lead.  And the use of two borders really brings out all of the ambers in the window. 

Linda F's Autumn Leaves Window was completed this week and she made excellent use of her Fractures and Streamers glass in the background.  This window definitely says 'Autumn' as she had hoped it would.


Terry completed another Terry Original Design, this one being a Cardinal in a Cross.   This is a window that Terry made completely on her own while at home over the holidays.  Keep your eyes peeled and you might spot Terry's Cardinal making another appearance later on in this update. 

Jan's completed the bottom panel of her two Library Bookcase Windows and her straight lines are perfection.  What's next?  Jan is thinking that she wants to make a peacock but in a smaller version from our last two peacocks.  And we have a perfect pattern for that.


Brenda made another Beveled Cross suncatcher and the bevels work wonderfully with her choice of iridised white glass.  I think Brenda can make these in her sleep now. Although they look simple, the key to making these crosses is to keep it all symmetrical.


Susan D finished her second Christmas Tree Lawn Ornament this week.   Her star on the top is like icing on a cake and I suspect that we'll see this added to every one of these we see made from here on out.  The big difference between this tree and Susan's last tree is that this one is made with only red ornaments.


Lynn M has completed the grinding on her Tree Of Life Window and it's already striking.   I love the design and plan on doing one myself in the near future.  Lynn has begun the wrapping process and once that is done she'll tack this all together and then attach her border.  The big question is, will she make it a single color or do it multi-colored border to match the tree?  Time will tell.

Well, it's official now-- Becky S has all of her glass cut and ground for her Tulip Flower Window.   She's still wrapping some of the inner pieces but this should be all tacked together when we see Becky return.  Her soldering always goes quickly and her technique is flawless so she'll be moving along to a new project before you know it.

Carol purchased a few bevel clusters that she's decided to incorporate into windows starting with the one you see below.  She's surrounded this one in a clear purple trim which was trickier than she thought but in the end the time spent doing it will pay off greatly. 

Cindy has orders popping up left and right and this is her latest commissioned piece.  It's all straight cuts and Cindy is the first of two students who purchased a pistol grip cutter this week.  A pistol grip allows you to make perfectly straight cuts and in a window like this it's very important to be precise.

Address windows are in vogue right now as Jeannette started hers this week.   She got all of the background glass cut out along with the numbers and even has most of it ground already.  Before you know it she'll be attaching a border and letting her mailman take a look at her completed piece.

Myrt has begin cutting out a cardinal that she knows she wants in her next window.   When she returns we will have the completed pattern drawn which will be based around this particular bird.  She wants a tree and some leaves so we'll see what I dream up during the week between classes.

Betty now has all but 5 pieces of glass left to go in her Fleur De Lis Window.  She's going to be soldering this very soon and using a lot of lead to cover all of the trim that she's completely encased in foil.  It's a beautiful effect and it will match the quality of the work that she's put into this project.

Although the holidays are over we're still not finished with Christmas themed windows.  Linda L has made great strides with her Mickey Mouse Christmas Window and is grinding him to fit together as we speak.  There's really only background and border left to go on this.

Next up we have a more traditional Christmas project which is being done by Susan D.   She has her pieces cut out and started working from the top down at the grinder but then decided to skip the complex face and jump on down to Santa's feet and legs.  I love the fact that Susan has redrawn the pattern so that they eyes won't have to be painted onto this Santa.   

Susan R is also working on finishing up Christmas Patterns and her Noel window is looking beautiful.  She's got nice straight lines in her text and her colors are very Christmasy to say the least.  We've had to add a few pieces of glass on the top and bottom to make this stable as the original pattern was sure to fall apart.  Luckily those new pieces won't be distracting at all-- in fact, they'll make the text more legible.


Martha got all of the clear glass cut out for her Cross Suncatcher.  She also got a lesson in using a pistol grip cutter and took to it wonderfully.  That means that we'll certainly be seeing nice straight lines in all of her projects from here on out.

Mary Grace has started working on this flower design that I had drawn up ages ago.   She's got all of her petals cut and has begun grinding them already.   She's far more confident in her cutting nowadays because grinding as you go is a very advanced method of making windows which leaves no room for errors.  It's looking good and all of her petals have exaggerated curves to make it look more flowing' after the lead is applied.


Sheri has just one break to repair in her Peacock Window and then she'll wash and color it.  That means that unless she misses class this will be completed when she returns.   We've already held it up and know what it will look like, but a nice cleaning will make it look even better than it already is.  She's done beautiful work here and next week we will show you the fruits of her labor.

Paula was very undecided as to what to do next so she shifted through patterns and then decided that after making all of those boxes she wanted something else that would 'expand' her stained glass horizons.  So a lamp it is!  she's got her background glass almost completely cut out so she's moving along nicely.   I think she's really going to enjoy doing this project.

Rowena started a new Butterfly Lawn Ornament and has it all ground and ready to go together.  I have no doubt that we'll see that happen next week because she already has the pattern for her next window picked out and is anxious to get started on that. 

Lara has decided on an unlikely project that will certainly turn heads.  It's hard to see right now but she has the state of Louisiana drawn out and cut into sections representing all of the parishes in the state.  When it's completed this map will be both colorful and practical for Lara.

Things never seem to go smoothly for me.  Case in point, Shelly got away without my taking a picture of her cat window so I guess we'll see more of that project next week.

And that's a wrap on our first post of the new year.  Weekly updates are about to start occurring again now that the  holiday season is behind us so expect another update a week from now (if not earlier).

Bayou Salé GlassWorks