Monday, August 23, 2021

Anything Can Happen

We've been seeing quite a few broken pieces happen during the soldering process due to heat and I think it's time to pass this tip along in the blog.   Heat cracks happen due to stress points in the glass.   These occur naturally and are a by-product of cutting glass.   The only way to reduce these stress points is to make sure that you grind the edges of all of your glass thoroughly.  Just a quick pass over the grinder wheel is not enough.   Below you can see that although this piece of glass has been touched by a grinder wheel, it has only been ever so slightly ground.  The blue arrows point to the few areas that have been ground with only the arrow on the left being ground correctly.   The white, matte edge is what should appear COMPLETELY around the glass.  That matte finish reduces glass stress considerably.  Also in the picture below are green arrows pointing to deep chips that have been created by pressing too hard on the cutter while scoring your glass.  These 'deep chips' may be less than a 1/16th of an inch deep but these are chips which easily become cracks while soldering.

Here is the same piece of glass after being ground with just a fair amount of pressure along the entire edge against the grinder wheel.  Note the matte finish along the entire edge.   People ask me how hard should they press against the grinder and the answer is simple:   Enough to make your edges appear as shown below.  

Okay then, Sheri's first Yippie Flag Window has been completed and her use of red and green cathedral glass set inside a solid black background makes this as striking at possible.  The picture below captures most of  the stark contrasting colors but the effect is so much more pronounced when you see this window in person.   Sheri has one more of these flags almost completed and it won't be long until that one sees the light of day as well.
Judy's Wine Ladies are toasting to the fact that their 'portrait' (so to speak) has been completed in such a wonderful way!  I have to say that the colors used in this are as vibrant and full of lifeas the ladies are themselves.  This is a fun window to make and it's also a fun window to look at as well.
Cindy's Nicholls Suncatcher was also finished and you can see that she did decided to add a red border to it.   Matching the border glass perfectly to the N that the sword runs through was pure perfection.  Since this window is an oval there is no channel surrounding it since you can't stretch the channel in such a shape.   Sometimes people won't make oval windows because they feel that without channel the window will look unfinished but as you can see that's not the case at all.
Next up we have Linda F's Single Sunflower which was completed both quickly and efficiently.  There are no flaws in this window which features curved inner corners.  That means that a strip cutter can't be used to cut the border since 6 of the 11 border pieces aren't made out of purely straight cuts.  That said, even cut by hand Linda's borders came out looking like they were machine made!
Beth B is back and she's finished up the fish suncatcher that she began working on when she last attended classes with us.  In her first class back she was able to grind her remaining pieces and then wrap, tack and solder this fish together to create one beautiful suncatcher.
Susan D is blazing a path straight through towards Christmas with her four Flower Angels and 2 Van Gogh Spiraling Christmas trees.   Next up for her will be at least two beveled and leaded Christmas Ornaments.
Martha has begun work on a 'Build Your Life' Window that was inspired by a painting by Dylan Hines who is a 7th grader that created the painting for his grandparents.  I will post a picture of that painting after Martha completes this so you can see side by side of just how wonderfully I know this window will look when compared to the original work.
Kerry started a Witching Window and got it all cut out in just one class.   Of course grinding this will take some time because we don't want that red haired witch to look as though she's deformed and we also want all of those straight lines to be straight as well.

MiMi is back in class and so are her hundreds of thousands of Hexagon-like pieces!  This is Window number six and she's already past the halfway point on grinding it.  It's good to have her back.
Susan R's Woman in a Bathtub is really taking shape now that it's essentially ground save for the bubbles.   She's decided to put a border on this when she's finished since it isn't going in a hoop anymore and I feel that will really set this off nicely.   I tend to feel that a window looks a bit empty without a border around it.
Lara, who always inspires with her unique designs and artistic vision, is making a Flowered Hair Ornament section of a Geisha Girl with just the smallest amount of face showing under all of those colorful flowers and hair.  It's a piece that will raise eyebrows for sure!

Speaking of colorful, we also get to look at this vibrant Butterfly Suncatcher that Shawn began.  She's decided to make a few smaller projects now that she's completed what she calls her best piece yet-- her Octagon Diver and Stingray Window.   I think she's really going to like making this though as she can be as free as she wants to be with her color choices.
Linda F cut out this large Beehive Suncatcher that she found on the internet after we changed it up  substantially by making it all one piece and eliminating all of the paint that was in the original picture that was the inspiration to this design.  The changes we made allow the bees to be seen from both the front and the back of the suncatcher, eliminate all the paint used in the original, and make this far, far more structurally solid.
With all of her Round Magnolia Window cut out Tracey is now ready to begin the grinding process on her newest rendition of this timeless classic.    This pattern has become so popular that I had to re draw it since the original had fallen into tatters!  Tracey makes this pattern look so spectacular that I may end up having to re-draw it again in the near future since other students are apt to decide that they need to make it as well.
Shelley's got her Voxel Cats Window all cut, ground and ready to be wrapped.  Or at least I thought so until I looked at the picture and realized that we forgot to cut the noses into place!  I've called her and told her NOT to wrap the heads unless she wants noseless cats and luckily I got to her before she tacked them together.  Next week well get a border on this and three kitty noses as well.
Bee's Flowerpot Window is coming together at a nice pace of speed while all the while maintaining Bee's need for detail and accuracy.   You can see that the pots have all been ground and that the flowers in the pot on the left have also been ground and fitted.   I don't think that this window will take Bee much time at all now to complete.
Judy M started this Cardinal Window that ever so slightly resembles a window that she found on the internet.   Yes, they both feature cardinals but this bird bears no resemblance to the monstrosity that she originally saw.   In fact, only the border on this window is similar and even that's been changed for the better.   Once this is completed, which will probably be very soon,  I'll show you what inspired it and let you decide whose looks best.  Biased as I may be, my money is on Judy's!
Jan got her Eagle/Flag Window all cut and ground.   Well, maybe not ALL cut.  Jan discovered that one piece was missing, one piece had been cut a little too short and a third had a piece broken off that she didn't realized that until she began grinding her window.   These things happen-- I'm making a window right now and discovered that two of my pieces had broke incorrectly and I hadn't realized it until I was grinding.  I just consider these things to be a SLIGHT setback and work onward from there. 

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! It's impossible to see here but Cindy is making two of these windows and they're both at the exact same point in the creation process as they are both shown here in the picture, one stacked on top of the other.  I have to say that her colors are stupendous and make me hungry for Ice Cream!
Linda L made great progress on her two Angel Windows and has the blue angel almost completely wrapped in copper foil while the second pink angel has been ground and is just awaiting foil before it can be tacked together and 'borderized'.  There were a lot of deep cuts to be made in the background glass, some of which needed to be ground out rather than cut out, but Linda handled them with ease and her background glass (as well as the angels) look wonderful.

Barbara tacked her Beveled Window together and in the end decided not to replace the rounded sections with a different glass.  Why?  In the end she felt that the introduction of a new texture drew too much attention to the four rounded pieces and distracted from the overall flow of the window.   She's all set to begin soldering this large piece when she comes back in.
Mary Grace trimmed her tree branches and ended up a number of nicely curved leaves for her Cardinal Hoop design.  With everything cut and ground save for one piece of black glass that surrounds the bird's eye Mary Grace will be able to begin foiling all of her pieces and then work on soldering this together upon her return.     
Betty's on the road to Christmas also as she has cut out and essentially ground four Christmas Reindeer Suncatchers.  The antlers on these will be made with a little creative wire bending but for the life of me I can't recall where the hooks went on these!  Hopefully Betty has a better memory that I do or if that fails then perhaps she still has one of these around that she made last year that we can examine.
And in the end we have Annette's Crow and Moon Window.  It's finished save for a final bath in black patina which we like to let set on the window for at least a half hour and even up to 45 minutes to get a nice black coating.  The only reason she didn't get this completed on Wednesday evening was due to this extended wait time.  We'll unveil this striking window when we see you again next week.
Until then, have a good one! 


Bayou Salé GlassWorks










Monday, August 16, 2021


Foiling is a very important part of making a stained glass window.   Often I see students rush through the foiling process without regard to how it looks because they feel the lead will cover it.  This is truer than you might believe.  Lead follows your foil perfectly.  Any flaws that you have in your foil show up in the lead as well.

Below we have a picture with two large problem areas.  The red arrow points to a stair-step which happens when the starting and ending points of your foil don't line up correctly.   Any lead that you apply on top of the stair-step will take the same shape.  It won't hide the problem.   Next, the green arrow points to a section of foil that has been flipped upside down so that the adhesive side is upward rather than against the glass.  I've used black backed foil so you can easily see that the black back side of the foil is facing upward.  This often happens in corners if you aren't careful enough to tuck one side of the foil under the next side as you would wrap a Christmas present.

Here's how to fix these problems.  First off we need a SHARP razor knife or Exacto knife to trim off that offensive stair-step.   To do that we start at the large overhanging area by butting the blade against the foil we want to match and then traveling downward along the dotted line I've added to the picture.  Once the stair-step is removed you can simply use your fingernail in the upper right of the piece to flip the small area of tape so the back side is facing downward.  If you can see the adhesive side of the foil no lead will cover it. 

Remember, solder will not hide bad foiling but instead highlight any and all of your problem areas.  Your soldering will only ever be as good as your foiling so foil carefully.


So first off we look at Lara's Caduceus Window which was completed in just 2 weeks from start to finish.   Now we did rush a bit on this but in the end you can't tell at all because Lara's attention to detail outweighed Lara's need for speed.  When she asked what color would work well as an accent border with all of that white in the center I knew instantly that blue was the answer-- especially when she said that the window was being made for a man.  Perfection.

Lisa was unfortunately skipped over last week due to a filing error on my part so this week you get to see her four seemingly instantaneously created Frog Nightlights all finished and ready to illuminate!   For your viewing pleasure I've included a shot of one of the Frogs all lit up and perched on its nightlight stand.   The other three will be attached to nightlights of their own when Lisa gets home.
Peace out man.  Sheri should be able to sell these far out Peace Hands for a cool amount of dough and stick it to the man by bringing in some bread on the side.  And the colors, wow, they're totally trippy and psychedelic!  There's a whole vibe here that really blows my mind. Right on, dude, dig it if you can. Oh, and keep on truckin'!
Mary Grace completed her 3D Diamond Spinner which I discovered is somewhat difficult to photograph.   Still, I think you get the idea.  If you looked at this piece the from the top you'd see something that looks like +.   Interestingly enough, even though we didn't plan  for a specific item to hang from the center, the crystals that Mary Grace brought it fit inside it like a glove!
Betty knocked out another pair of Cardinals Hoop and then made another Heart Sunflower as well.  Look at that nice flowing line that makes up the curve of the heart shape of the Sunflower.   That's attention to detail and we're going to get into that as a tip of the week soon enough.
With just 42 days left to go until Christmas arrives Susan D is working feverishly on her Christmas Tree Suncatchers to get them out in time for the holidays.  You know what they say don't you?  Slow and steady wins the sleigh race!
Martha made enough Feathers this week to make it look like my back yard when one of the chickens begin to molt. Alas, these feathers are far more colorful and fun to look at and Martha made them all in the best way possible:  first she cut out ALL of the feathers, hen she ground ALL of the feathers and finally she soldered ALL of the feathers.   When making more than one item you should always cut everything at once.   Trust me when I say that cutting out the first one, then grinding it, then wrapping it, finally soldering it and them moving along to cutting out a second one is sooooo VERY much slower!

Now this is what Lisa's four frogs looked like when she left class last week.   She had managed to get them all cut and ground (all at once) and then took them home to wrap in foil.   This week we saw her solder them all and attach them to their nightlight bases.    Showing you this picture in this postafter you've already seen them completed is my way of saying 'Better late than never.'  Right?

Linda L has been very busy cutting and grinding two Angel Panels (that she cut all at once) and she's gotten quite far along in the process just two weeks into this.  If you look closely you'll see that the blue Angel is about halfway ground.   Those wings make for a lot of deep grinds but they don't appear to be slowing Linda down at all.

Cindy finished cutting and grinding her Nicholl's Logo Panel and at this point I'm unsure if she's going to add a border to surround this or not.  I guess it all depends on how large she wants it to be.  Normally I say a border is necessary mainly for hanging purposes but the N creates lead lines at nice even intervals where we can attach hooks if Cindy chooses to forgo a border.

Jan is back and she's got her American Flag Eagle window all cut out and ready to be ground. Unfortunate circumstances have forced her to change out the glass that forms the white stripes of her flag but in the end I think that the finished window will look better for it. 

Shelly began work on a Cat Window with a twist.  Or should I say a lack of a twist because there is not a single curved line in the entire window.  But as I type this I realize that the noses of these 3 squared off cats will be somewhat heart shape.  I guess we'll see what this becomes in the weeks to come!
Unlike Shelley's Window, curved lines abound in Tracey's newest Magnolia Window which she began cutting glass for while in class this week.   Tracey's made this before and each time she makes it it comes out a little bit better than the last one.  And since her work is always perfection just imagine how good this is going took by the time it's completed.
Susan R's Bathtub Lady has really taken shape this week as a lot of the bottom area and the tub has been ground.  I've always loved this window and Susan has inspired me to make it again but in a new way.  Meanwhile, don't you just love those curtains!  This is a popular pattern for a reason and Susan's rendition of it will only help make it even more popular.

Mary got the lion's share of the grinding done on her 'Dueling Hummingbirds' Suncatcher while she was in this week and now she'll wrap everything in copper foil and then tack it together before fitting in the clear glass background pieces that will give this beautiful Hummingbird project some extra stability.  

Susan D has two more Christmas Tree's and four more Beveled Ornaments left to go before calling it a wrap on the assorted Christmas Ornaments that she's been busy assembling.   I think we'll be seeing these completed very soon now as most of the work is finished on these.

With all but four pieces ground for her Butterfly and Louisiana Iris Window, Melissa is almost ready to begin foiling.   There are still a few cuts to make to form the Butterfly's Antennas but they're go quickly and won't slow down the final glass cutting step where she adds a border to this stunning window.

With her background all cut and ground for her large clear Beveled Window Barbara has taken her pieces home so she can wrap them in foil and get this tacked together upon her return.   She's thinking that she might add one more texture to this design in the rounded sections in the center part of the design but we'll see what happens next week when this is tacked together. and we can see the window a lot more clearly out of our mind's eye and into our real eyes.

Sheri has one Yippie Flag completely tacked together and ready for solder while the second one only needs to get it's leaves pin striped.   She's really flown through the cutting and grinding of these two windows and it looks like she'll be completing them before you know it.  I have a sneaking suspicion that one of these will be completed when we see Sheri next week.

Mary Grace has turned her artistic eye towards her newest Humming Bird Hoop design and has decided to change the shape of the leaves to something a little more curvy.   We'll see what they look like when she resumes work on this piece next week.   Meanwhile she also cut out two Heart Suncatchers that you can see to the left of the picture, one in pink and the other in a flamingo.
And in the end all I can say is that all's well that ends well so I'm outa here!





Monday, August 9, 2021

It Might As Well Be My Fault

Water your grinder frequently.  I often tell students to add water to the grinder and have them tell me that they already did when class started.  Water gets used fairly quickly as it sprays off of the spinning head and also coats each piece of glass that you are grinding.  You lose water every time you remove a piece of glass from the grinder so it doesn't take long for the level of water to drop  below its optimal level.  Your grinder head will last far longer if you maintain water in your grinder.   Any time you see a powdery build up as you grind a piece of glass, add water!

Speaking of water, Shawn's Octagon Diver Window really made a splash in class because everyone who saw it loved it. The iridised blue that she used gives the water a shimmery, pinkish tint that doesn't distract from the subject matter but actually turns your head towards it.  What's not to like about this?

Cindy's newest Pelican Window was also completed and it all came together perfectly.  She was very insistent on getting the border, the beak, and the rope to be a specific color which slowed down her progress on this by one week, but in the end it was well worth the wait.  Cindy's happy with the finished result and we can all agree that it's gorgeous.
Betty did a small redesign on her first version of her Pair of Cardinals Hoop design by raising the Cardinals and having them perched on a branch.   She has two more of these under construction so keep an eye out for at least two more of these lovely Hoops.
Cindy also finished up the work on her lavender Cross Suncatcher.  Getting the lead in the center to look symmetrical because of all of those lines joining into one point was a bit difficult but she accomplished it.  The next time she makes this I'd recommend putting a jewel in the center to alleviate the possible 'problem'.

Next up we look at Linda F's rendition of the Flag/Heart Hoop.  Soft curving lines enable the perimeter of this heart to line up and join seamlessly into one flowing curve.  That's the kind of detail I like to see in projects with opened edges.
Our 'other' Linda, Linda L finished six of these flower angels complete with wire halos which double as hangers.  These look best when supported by a piece if ribbon looped through the halo and that is exactly what Linda plans to do with these when she gets home. 

Bee has been VERY busy working on her Flowerpot Window.  As you can see she's got about half of it cut out already and next week we'll surely see more of the plants and flowers come to life as she adds even more colorful glass to this project.
Barbara H has begun work on a large Beveled Window.   She wanted to make something similar to another Beveled Window that she made long ago but the size just didn't work out at all.   The first window was very small and when we put the bevel cluster into this opening it just got lost with far too much empty space both above and below it.  In the end we assembled this faux bevel cluster out of stock bevels.   We still need lines to make some of the cuts possible in the center of the window but there are so may different ways to split the glass that I'm going to show Barbara a few photoshopped pictures to help her decide which way she might want to go.  More on that next week.

Lara has begun work on a Caduceus Window and in just one class she managed to get everything but the borders cut ground and mostly wrapped.  I have a sneaking suspicion that this might very well be completed when she comes back in!

Sheri's Yippie Flag is really coming together quickly because she cut it out in the most efficient manor.  Instead of cutting 66 individual leaf sections that would each need to be ground to fit correctly next to each other Sheri simply cut and ground five individual leaves.  Once that was done she cut each leaf into its individual sections which meant that she only had to skim each piece to get things fitting back together easily and perfectly.   We'll dive deeper into this method as a tip in one of our future posts.
This Lady in a Bathtub started off life as a hoop design but Susan R is going to make it a full fledged circular window because she has a background glass that she really wants to use on it.   I have to say that it doesn't matter what surrounds this be it a hoop or a piece of channel-- it's going to look amazing no matter what because of those incredible curtains!

Melissa is back and her Butterfly and Iris Window is really taking shape now.  The Iris is still a bit sketchy but trust me-- when it's ground and pinned down to the pattern you'll have no problem realizing what it is. Look at how nice and symmetrical her Butterfly's wings are even though they haven't even been completely ground yet.   That's the kind of detail that I like to see.

Susan D has already got the Christmas Spirit as you can see by looking at the work she's managed to accomplish on her three Swirling Christmas Trees and her two Beveled Ornaments.   She also has an unknown number of Angels cut out and stashed away in the trunk of her car (which isn't actually nearly as bad as it sounds).    
Everything has been cut, ground, wrapped and tacked together on Annette's Crow Window. Alas, the pièce de résistance of this piece isn't visible in the picture below!!  I went ahead a suggested that she make the eye of the crow red and Melissa liked the idea as well so I cut the smallest sliver of a most brilliant red piece of glass for the eye and it looks marvelous!  It's the only hint of color in this window and it was cut from the brightest, boldest glass imaginable but it's only an eighth inch wide by a sixteenth inch tall.  Although it's easy to miss it does manage to speak volumes when you finally notice it.

I don't have to tell you that Linda F is well along on her Single Sunflower Window because you can clearly see that for yourself.   She not only has it cut and ground but she's got the majority of it wrapped in copper foil as well.   She's making quick work of this summery project, that's for sure.

Martha has feathers on her mind as she ground six more of these colorful suncatchers and even wrapped and tacked four of them together.   I think these will all be completed upon her return to class next week because Martha is on a roll here!

And in the end we look at this Nicholls Logo which is being brought to you by Cindy who does quality work both quickly and efficiently!  Order before midnight and get free shipping!
And that about wraps things up this week.   Come back next week for another round of stained glass.