Thursday, February 18, 2010

Its almost time for hummingbirds

Soon, the real ones will be coming back to North America. We usually don't see our first hummingbird until the first week of April in this part of West Tennessee and since I've been missing them since they left last October I thought it was time to make one. I started designing this pattern a few weeks ago and was finally happy with it and ready to start. Below are some highlights of how I put this hummingbird suncatcher together.
I've already cut all the glass pieces out by hand and I've started the process of fitting them together on the pattern. The glass that I chose for the belly is a pearly iridescent white glass with soft hues of pinks/yellows/greens. Iridescent glass is reflective, like a mirror and its really awesome at night when just a bit of artificial light hits it.

Each piece needs to fit pretty tight to its neighboring piece. To get this close, the pieces need to be grinded to remove any extra glass. I've also chosen to use dark green iridescent glass for the parts that are the bird's head, wings and tail. The clear glass in the wings are textured iridescent glass, too.
Here all the pieces have been fit and I'm ready to start the foiling process.

I've used 4 different copper foils for this project. 2 are black backed foils at different widths for the glass pieces that are more see through and 2 are copper backed foils for the glass that is more dense.

Ready for solder, all the pieces are tacked down. Left to right--flux, 60/40 lead tin solder, damp sponge for wiping the iron tip off, glimpse of the solder iron and a block of sal ammonaic. Even though the damp sponge helps to clean the solder iron tip off, sal ammonaic helps remove the oxidation that forms on the tips for better solder results.

Here, I've started the solder process on one side of the suncatcher.

Once the front side is done, the piece is flipped over and the back side is soldered also.

I've measured out how much lead came I need. Lead came is the outside metal framing that gets wrapped around this suncatcher.

Here's a view of one of the loops I've soldered to the back of the frame so this piece can hang by way of chain. This piece has two loops attached.

I needed to give this bird an eye. The eye is simply a ball of solder added to a solder line.

Black patina--a chemical--darkens the shiny silver solder to a rich dark grey color. Left on its own, the silver solder and lead will eventually turn a dark color on its own--we're just speeding up the process.

Done! I really had fun putting this piece together and I really like the bright bold colors that I picked for it. I'll be doing more of these in different colors soon and in different sizes. This piece measures 12 diameter, 30cm. Next time I'll probably do one at around 8 inches.
Spring is finally springing up here--one of my daffodils has started to open up just a bit. Can't wait for the wave of yellow happiness that these beautiful flowers create in the months ahead.
Wherever you are, have a safe and happy week. Look to the skies if you get a chance--you might be pleasantly surprised to see an awesome creature of nature.


Jan Gonzalez said...

Love your work, the designs, and your color choices! Not to mention the great blogs....I can tell this is a labor of love with you.

Celtic Cat said...

Your newest creation is lovely!