Stained Glass is a fun art discipline to learn. It is NOT an easy craft. You are not sticking pompoms on a bleach bottle. You will have to invest some time is developing your glass skills. I'll try to
help you through it. Doing stained glass does not require a lot of strength so it can be done by children at a fairly young age and I've had 8 year olds in some of my classes and at least 2 of them
did better than their parents. The experienced adults can do glass. (I don't say seniors or aged since I'm getting there myself) we are experienced adults... anyway...
If you do have extreme
arthritis you could have a problem, but with the pistol grip cutters you do not need a lot of strength, just some strong determination.
Your start up supplies will probably total $100 to $150. And you will spend more as you go along. Check in your area to see if anyone offers "studio time" so that you can pay a fee and use their
tables and equipment (grinders, soldering irons and such) I offer that service by reservation for my students.
That's not class time but studio time
START UP TOOLS
1) cutter-- use the $2.00 thing from the hardware store or buy a good one from $25.00 generic to $40.00 name brand.
2) combo pliers-- are the most important pliers because they will do anything $8 to $10
3) runner pliers-- are wonderful but you can do without them ......but I wouldn't want to. $8 to $40
4) assorted glass-- start with some cheep window clear glass, raid the trash dumpsters at a local window glass company, or check with Lowes or Home Depot for scrap to practice with.
5) some colored glass of your choice (if you already have a pattern in mind that is great when you are choosing colors) $4 to $20 square foot,
6) Sharpie pen-- for marking on the glass, I like the black.and I sometimes use their new silver one.. laboratory pencils will also work but choose the graphite as the colored ones are so
7) dust brush-- even a wallpaper brush. Check the garage, they is probably one out there buried somewhere.
8) Flux-- my preference is NoKorode,. I've been using it for 30 years and I love it, no corrosion, easy to clean up, smoother soldering, no popping no corrosion.
9) flux brush-- ones they call glue brushes or acid brushes with metal handles.
10) solder-- 60/40 is the easiest to use, 50/50 is pasty and hard to get smooth and need higher temperature, lead free is very hard to get smooth. Prices vary with fluctuation in metal prices.
11) Rulers-- assort what ever you have and at least one or two cheep yardstick, you can cut in half.
12) Plastic triangles are good but not required.... from your high school drafting class, if you can remember where they are.
13) A "T" square is good, but don't go buy one..yet
14) copper foil-- I prefer 1/4 inches wide, some people like the 7/32. It comes plain copper, black back and silver back. And a curved edge (new wave)
And just to confuse you it comes in thicknesses, from 1m 1.25m and 1.5m (one product, 6 widths, 3 backs, 3 weights thats 54 kinds and that's not all of them)
Buy the 1/4, plain in any thickness and worry about the others later.
15) Lathkins/fid-- a plastic burnisher to press out any wrinkles in the foil on the glass. And there are wooden ones, referred to as a carrot
16) wood board-- 1/2 to 3/4" plywood is great to put your work piece on, needs to be just bigger than the pattern and it's good to have several. You can sandwich your partially
finished glass piece between 2 wood boards to turn it over.
17) Some nails-- I use square nails.( horse shoe kind). Most feed and grain stores will have them,
OPTIONAL AND WONDERFUL ITEMS
1) GRINDER.-See what is available in your area, I like Inland-Wizard It has a good motor and has given me good service in my classes
2) Stripper. I like Gladstar's because of how it is made. and it also cuts circles, Inland also makes one.
3) Foiler dispenses the foil sticky side up with the backing pulled off for you and if you pay attention it will also center it for you. What else could you want?
4) Morton system, a bunch of loose parts to lose..NO just kidding. A great cutting system once you learn to use it. But get a cookie tin or plastic container to put all the gadgets in.
But I tend to lose things, but that's a personal problem.
5) Good working surface. Flat table of wood (so you can drive nails into it) and a series of glass storage slots under it. You don't need a
lot of slots but have one space for HOTS (reds, orange, yellow), for for greens and blue, one for clears, whites, one for browns and blacks, GLASS should be stored on it's edge not laying flat.
Now, at a glance you can see if you have what you need.
6) good lighting for your work area
7) a light box is nice and you can make that yourself and can even work it into your table top.
8) Glass cleaner I like Clarity Kem-O-Pro, Alcohol will remove the NoKorode flux
9) Patinas, Chemicals to control the color and aging of the metals (solder-lead) There is a copper sulfate patina that turns the solder to a copper color, It is a poison, so don't drink it and it is
also a great drain clean. There is one chemical that will turn the solder black (which is
what will eventually happen anyway) Who knew, sale and black patina will turn zinc to a slightly brass color.
10) Pattern scissors, 3 bladed scissors that will remove a small section of the pattern when you cut out the pieces. This automatically reduces each pattern piece a little bit and helps you stay
on pattern. There are scissors for copper foil and wider bladed scissors for lead. This is one items that you can easily do without but they are nice to have.
BASIC REQUIREMENTS FOR HAND CUTTING GLASS
- By rolling on the glass surface, the cutting wheel develops a system of force in the glass so that a minute fracture, called a fissure, is
created in the sheet. A good quality cut edge can be attained at break-out only if a proper fissure was made by the wheel.
- You are not cutting the glass with the glass cutter, but throwing a fissure by disrupting the molecules on the surface of the glass.
- Too much pressure can result in a double fissure and a rough break. Get some cheep window glass and practice how much pressure is required. You will find that very little pressure is needed.
- Worktable surface should be flat, hard and clean. Brush your table often and brush to the center of the tables. No shards-pieces
on the floor please.
- It is recommended that you hold your cutter so that the wheel is straight up and down, not tilted. The wheel should be lubricated with oil/keroscene mixture. Make your own or buy prepared
- You can push or pull the cutter. I push when I'm cutting a pattern cut so I look down and see where I am going. I pull when I'm cutting
a straight cut and I always use a ruler/T square when doing straight cuts.
- Be sure glass is clean before doing the score, or reasonably clean
- Wheel must roll freely and be in direct contact with the glass for a proper fissure.
- If the wheel goes over contamination, some of the cutting energy will be lost and an irregular fissure will be made.
- FORCE; It is the greatest force which can be used without crushing the glass surface. When the score becomes a white gritting line
or if chips and glass dust is created, then the maximum force has been exceeded. Practice is the only way to master the correct force.
- It is not important to score fast or to score slow ....but even. The faster the wheel rolls, the deeper will be the fissure. As the speed increases the force must be decreased to avoid gouging.
- NEVER retrace a score. It will just cause damage to the cutter wheel
- BREAK-OUT. having an excellent score, you can still fail in the break
- Start you break where your score ended for best results but the glass will break for either end of the score. Very little bending of the
glass is required.
- Use your COMBO PLIERS place the pliers' jaws about 1/2 to 1 inch from the ending of the score, just next to the score line and
rotate your hand out away from the score.
- Use the RUNNER pliers, place the center of the pliers' head on the score and press....the pliers will do the work.
- With the glass laying on the table, slide a needle or a nail under the score and gently press on the glass on either side of the score.
- LARGE sheets of glass. Make the score and slide the glass, just off the edge of the table and place your thumbs under the score
and lift up a fraction, score will run.another methods on large pieces is to make the score and turn the glass so that the area to be removed is just off the table (support well) the raise the
piece to be removed and slower it with a slight slap against the table top and the piece will separate at the score line (we hope). BUT WITH GLASS you don't always know what it will do.
It does have a mind of it's own.
Practice on some plain window glass. check the dumpster outside you local glass shop, they throw out tons of glass, but don't cut
yourself and then try to sue them.
there are 2 basic ways of assembling glass
copper foil (tiffany style glass) and lead
They are just exactly what they say, one uses copper foil to assemble and the other is the older method and uses lead. Do some of both when you first start and see which one you like.
I personally like the copper foil because it is stronger and weather proof and I like to do complicated cuts and those are hard or impossible with lead. Plus I hate having to putty the leaded pieces.
Start with a simple pattern with no more than 8 to 10 pieces that fit together. I've included a few to pick from. ALWAYS HAVE 2 EXACT COPIES OF YOUR PATTERN
- Lay out your pattern on a board and using 2 rulers or 2 pieces of rulers. square up the bottom left corner with your triangle. We can at least start off square. Make sure your rulers are at the
edge of the pattern so when you lay down your first piece of cut glass it will be in the proper orientation. Use nails or horse shoeing nails through the rullers Fig 1..
- Cut out each pattern piece, with pattern scissors, and each pattern piece will be slightly reduced because of the 3 blades the scissors has. Or you can just trim the piece to allow for the reduction.....
or cut inside the line on the glass. I never cut all the pieces, I just cut what I need at the time or I lose them.
- Draw the pattern piece on the glass with your sharpie marker. Draw it carefully and accurately, near the edge of the glass. When you score the glass, your cutter wheel should be vertical to the
surface of the glass, and cut just immediately inside the drawing of your pattern piece.
- Cut out the piece by using some logic. See the illustration. You have to cut from one edge of the glass to the other edge. YOU CANNOT MAKE 90 degree TURNS WITH THE CUTTER.
practice on some cheep window glass. Score and break and score and break. Later you will score, score, score and then break, break, break. It's faster.
- NOTE: Your finished projects depends on, quality pattern, quality transfer, quality cutting, quality shaping, quality copper foiling, quality soldering, quality cleaning and quality
- When you start cutting you will start where you put your right angle in diagram that would be the lower left piece next to the corner. You do that so that when you place you piece on the pattern
you can tell if you are staying on pattern and the pieces cannot shift around.
- Continue until all the pieces are cut (working out from the corner) and fit reasonably well. Each piece can be shaped and edges clean up with a commercial glass grinder or you can use a abrasive
grinding stone (not fun)
- Copper foil each piece completely around the edges. Get the glass centered on the foil. Be careful putting on the foil so you don't cut your fingers.
- Use the lathkin to press down the foil, don't get rough or you can tear the foil.
- Apply flux to all the copper and solder. see soldering. I use NoKorode flux.
If any pieces do not fit well, then grind or re-cut those pieces. You want them to fit as snug as you possibly can. IT WILL NOT BE PERFECT. and
the solder will fill in the cracks.. yea.!
1. When you are happy with all the pieces and how they fit then you are ready to "stick" them together. Check to see if your piece is remotely square.
Measure across the top and across the bottom (those should be the same, Now measure up and down. Now check from corner to corner and see is
if those measurements are near the same. If not then fix it. Close is OK though. See illustration. You can fasten the pieces down with rulers and more horse shoe nails.
NOTE: I always start by putting flux on the copper foil joints all around the piece and maybe a spot in the middle and then tack soldering the stained glass piece in those spots.
way the piece is still fragile but will hold together and allow you to remove the rulers. The nails in the rulers have a tendency to reach out and grab your soldering iron's
Drives me nuts. BUT FOR ME IT IS A SHORT DRIVE
2. Flux all the copper areas with your cheep brush and the NoKorode flux and start soldering from one side. Work your way across the seams until all the copper is covered on
both sides of the glass.
3. As you solder you want to make a raised "bead". This makes the joining stronger and it looks better. Get the bead as smooth as you can. Don't turn the iron up on it's edge.
The solder will stick to the copper and not the glass and you cannot control the width of the solder seam by the way you hold the iron. The width of the copper foil controls the width of
your final bead. Don't turn it over until you have done the front and are happy with it.
NOTE;. The width of the solder seam is the copper foil. If you have a space between the glass pieces then the width of the solder seam is the copper foil and the space.
If you take a sharp razor blade and trim back the copper foil in the area where there is a space (bad fit) you don't get rid of the space but you can narrow up the solder seam.
You may need to read this more than once.
4. The back side is a little harder to solder than the front side because some air will have been captured between the pieces and when solder the back you will need to let that air escape.
So run your iron over the solder, slowly and let the air out. If any of the solder run through to the side you can eventually flip it back over and touch up the front again. You will learn to
recognize when the solder is running back through and that spot is now very hot so move to a new area to work until that spot cools down.
You have now, cut out your pieces, cleaned the edges, put on the copper foil, fluxed and soldered them together. You can clean off the NoKorode with alcohol. You will put on an edge of
lead or zinc. I prefer zinc. There are a number of sizes available, Normally, "U" is used on the edge and "H" is used between pieces. However, I often use "H" on the
edge because it is so much stronger than the "U".
On a small piece the small 1/8" "U" is fine.
You can decide if you want to use one of the patinas and then polish the piece on both side.
The polish does help to clean it and retards oxidation.
Note: I have discovered that the patinas do better using a paper towel (they will dissolve a rag)
and the polish works better with a rag.
START UP PATTERNS: #1. JUST SOME SHAPES, #2. PRETEND FLOWER, #3. SUN SET
AND if you type "free stained glass patterns" in your search bar on your browser you will find lots of
TULIP WITH CUT STEM
SUNSET, MORE PIECES
The following is a pattern that I often do when the sales walls new more quick easy items. Make up the frame with a blank center, (no glass) and then make up your items (separately) and tack them into place. Nothing has to fit and it can go very fast and looks good. Be careful making the frame because until you get it lined with "U" Zinc or "U" brass inside and out it can be fragile.
I never use lead because it is very bendable and you will need some strength.
Be sure you co-ordinate your pattern to your picture frame size. You need some overlap
make as many
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