Friday, July 22, 2011

Stained Glass Oak Leaves Project~a woodland celebration

The Stained Glass Oak Leaves project that I've been working on has finally been completed. I'm absolutely delighted with the outcome, especially considering that I did not know how the three shades of green glass that I used would 'work' together--they really did and I would use them together on other projects. Looks fantastic hanging in my workshop window, the leaves are very lively and seem to move due to the Waterglass that I used for them.

After the lead came frame was added, this piece measured at 13 3/4 inches diameter, right around 35cm.

I last posted about this piece a few days ago while I was half way through the process of foiling the pieces. Let's take a look at the remaining steps for this project.
All the pieces have been wrapped with copper foil, except for the outside edge which will be lead came framing a few steps from now. At this stage I'll pin the piece down with thumbtacks to keep it in place while the pieces are soldered together. I noticed that one piece of this puzzle was taking up a little bit more space then it was intended to have--it was taken out and a little bit of the glass removed so that it would fit better against the neighboring pieces.

Time to glue the puzzle together, or in this case its solder. A liquid chemical acid (left) will be brushed onto all the copper foiled edges. A lead/tin solder (right) will be what binds the pieces together and creates the joints.

Using a hot solder iron (right) that melts the solder to a high temperature, a bead is run over the copper foil joints that have been treated with the acid flux--by chemical reaction the solder is attracted only to the foil and the parts are then bound together.

Its important to keep the solder and the iron moving slowly yet continuously over the pieces as to avoid globs of solder which can occur easily especially where several pieces join together.

One side soldered completely. Lots and lots of crud left over from the solder process--this will be cleaned off thoroughly later, although a gentle wiping away of some of the gunk is in order. Now, the piece will be turned over and the back side will be completely soldered as well. BUT---this is the fun part~~~the piece can finally be picked up and looked at.

This will be the first time and I've seen what all of the hours of work have come to. Very very happy with things so far!

Back side soldered, the piece can now be cleaned thoroughly for the first time. Here, I'm using a powder called whiting, which is calcium carbonate. Brushed into the solder joints, it helps to absorb and residue leftover from the soldering process. It also cleans the glass as well.

Time to wrap it up. For the outer ring, I'm using what's called lead came--this is U shaped came as it resembles the letter "U". There's also "H" came that is used in leaded glass work--I don't use this in anything I do. There are a couple of different ways to purchase came, I've gone with the most economical method sold rolled onto a spool.

A measurement is taken of the circumference of the piece~~here right around 43 inches (just under 109cm) will be enough to wrap the outside. A length is cut off the roll of lead, laid out smooth and flat and cleaned off to remove any oxidation that might have formed.

There's a couple of different ways to approach wrapping the piece with the came. Mine is to face the U channel of the lead in an upward position and then to gently roll the center glass into the channel. Here, its been rolled and tacked down to a board using horse shoe nails to hold all in place for the next step.

Where the copper foiled joints of the glass meet the lead came outer ring I connect the two with solder to connect the ring and keep it in place. All of the joints are soldered this way on the backside only. On the front facing side I only solder the ring where the two ends have met and also where the rings that hold the piece will be put in place.

For smaller pieces its fine to attach a simple ring to for the purpose of hanging. For a larger and much heavier piece such as this I've created a ring with a 'tail'. The 'tail' end will be embedded with solder into the solder joint. This will create a hanging loop that is virtually impossible to remove short of cutting it off or reheating with an iron and removing.

Here the hanging loop his shown embedded into the solder joint.

To tone down the shiny silvery solder lines I've applied black patina to the metals. I've found that the easiest way to patina a piece is with a sponge dipped into the liquid patina then applied onto the solder lines and lead came. The excess is wiped away and the patina is allowed to set up for a short amount of time. To remove the residue from this step I'll wash the entire piece with soapy water, a sponge and a toothbrush run on all the solder joints paying special attention to heavily angled joints since this is where anything that doesn't belong tends to hide.

I let the cleaned patina'd piece set overnight, the next day I polished all the joints to protect them using a couple of different carnauba based waxes which also cleans and the glass and gives it a nice sparkle.

I've got another leaf based design that I'll be starting on tomorrow. The leaves are much simpler in form and the overall size will be a bit smaller.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My name is Critter

Critter gets in on the modelling action

I thought it might be fun to interview one of the new additions to the cat world. He's not really all that new, he came to us about a year ago now. Meet Critter, a handsome Tabby cat who likes to talk a lot.

cardboard hangover

Q. Hello Critter, nice to meet you, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you come from?
A. Hi! My name is Critter, I know its a strange name. My human mom gave it to me. At first I didn't think I'd like it, but its really grown on me now. I was born a few houses away from here. I look a lot like my cat mom. She had a lot of boyfriends so I don't know what my cat dad looks like or anything about him. When I got older, the people where my cat mom lives tried to send me away to another house, but I didn't like it there. The man was real loud and smoked funny smelling cigars and the lady liked to clean the house all the time and chase me with the broom. I had to leave there but I didn't have anywhere to go. I thought I might go back to see my cat mom. While walking to my first home I saw a human sitting outside a friendly looking house--cat friendly, anyway, cause I saw a cat sitting in the window. She said something to me that sounded nice so I went to see her. She was really nice to me, she didn't yell or nothin and she patted me on my head. I was tired and she said I could take a nap if I wanted to. I kinda decided right away that I wanted to stay.

I crown you king of the porch

Q. What do you like most about where you live?
A. A lot! But, I have to say that I love cardboard! My human mom gave me a box when I first moved in and I just fell in love with it. It made me feel so cozy. I like hanging out on the front porch, too. Sometimes my human mom puts funny things on my head~~she does a lot of silly things. But, my human mom doesn't care if I sleep all day and I'm good with that. She calls me the 'shop supervisor' but I know she's just kidding.

This was not a battle

And I've got plenty of food to eat. I even have a couple of brothers that I can play with, too. At night, my human mom lets me stay in the place where she makes stuff so I'm safe and don't have to worry about any other critters getting me.

Critter enjoys the day

It was nice getting to know a little bit about you, Critter. Its good to hear that you are happy with your home. I'm sure your human mom will be coming along shortly to give you big hugs and kisses.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Oak leaves project~~things are moving along

A few days ago, I got started on my oak leaves project. As of today, here's how things are looking--about half way through the foiling process. Once I got started, all of the pieces for the project were cut out by hand~~and some of the heavily curved pieces needed their curves cut on the ring saw as well. It was an all day event to make all that happen...with as hot as its been here I've been moving a little bit slower. The upside to it all is that glass is a lot easier to work with in warm weather as compared to cold. In the winter I need to warm the glass up before cutting it~~cold glass tends to break not where you really wanted it to.

One by one, the pieces started being fit against the original pattern. I met someone the other day who starts their projects from the bottom up~~I'm the type that always starts in the center and moves out.

After the pieces are cut out and in order to get them to sit next to their neighbors nicely they all get their rough bumpy edges smoothed out with the glass grinder. I wish smoothing people out could be so easy. For this project I've had to use both my grinders. The above fitted with a 3/4 inch grinder head and another grinder that has a much smaller 1/4 bit on it to get into the heavy curves where the regular bit won't fit.

Since I've taken on some workshop helpers I've got to cover anything I'm working on well--above a board placed over the project. I'm afraid that the cats would rearrange the glass pieces and I'd be really confused the next day. Or worse, they might feel the need to toss the pieces on the floor. Its hard to explain to them that glass doesn't bounce all that well. This is Critter, a wonderful Tabby that decided to move in with us last year. Apparently, he's planning on guarding the project overnight for me.


An interesting visitor stopped in this afternoon. A beautiful moth with lovely patterned wings. Its about 2 1/2 inches long, about 6cm. I've yet to figure out what kind it is. Surprisingly, it stayed in place on the iris leaves while the cats played close by. Perhaps its good it didn't move, it might have been what saved it from attack.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Oak leaf project--finally underway

A few weeks ago I came up with a new design that I'm finally getting started on. I've been a forest dweller for so long now, but I've not done much to celebrate the woodlands that I have come to love so much. Once completed, this will measure approximately 13 1/2 diameter, maybe a touch more.

The idea came to me while I was camping a few weeks ago. While taking lots and lots of photos I thought it would be interesting to arrange the leaves in an overlapping geometric fashion.

The colors that I've chosen for the leaves are from left to right: moss green, emerald green and hunter green. The leaves towards the center will be the lightest of the colors. I've never combined these colors, I'm really hoping that they harmonize even though they aren't shades within the same hue. The pieces towards the very center which make a star shape along with those at the very outer edge will be a lightly textured pale amber. I had debated if I should use a very pale blue~~to signify a blue sky, but my mind kept going back to the original thought of gold.
First day of actual production was today. All of the glass pieces~~all 128 of them~~have been cut by hand following the pattern. Each piece is numbered to correspond with the original plan. Tomorrow, Ill set about cutting most of these on a glass ring saw, then onto grinding them smooth and so forth.


Early in the day I glanced out the workshop windows and saw that one of the kitties was playing with something--what I could not tell. Being that we are surrounded by so much wilderness it could have been anything. So, being as curious as they are I had to find out what all the excitement was about. Mr Meatball cat had himself a 5-lined skink shown here with its tail gone. It did have a beautiful blue tail at one time, but nature gave them the ability to detach their tail if necessary to create a distraction~~~their fallen off tail wiggles and draws the attention of their predator, meanwhile the skink is able to make a getaway. Apparently, a little wiggling tail was not enough to captivate Meatball's attention. Luckily, I was able to take the skink away and found him a safe place in the backyard beneath firewood stacked on wooden pallets~a place the kitties won't be able to reach him.

This afternoon's interesting yard visitor was this lovely adult Southeastern Lubber grasshopper. The cats seemed to be having a good time with this visitor as well~~of course until I came along and took it away. After several photos of it I returned it to the back woods, hoping that they won't bother it again. Who knows what creatures will come by tomorrow.