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Tips for Stained Glass Crafters

Discussion in 'Community Message Board' started by red stripe, Jan 19, 2010.

  1. red stripe

    red stripe Well-Known Member

    I was working in the glass-room a little while ago, putting zinc framing around the latest piece.

    Up until now, I had framed pieces with zinc by cutting mitered corners. Then I took those very large and thick paperclips (cut into large "U"s) and using them as the hangers, I straddled them over the zinc, with a small length going down into the soldier lines in the glass. I had soldiered them onto the zinc frame.

    Making mitered cuts in 1/2 or 3/4 zinc was no easy task.

    On a recent trip to the stained glass shop for supplies I had mentioned this and they said.. "why take all that time to do it, when you are only going to cover the join with soldier anyway?" That made sense to me..

    They told me that they used straight cuts. I asked if this meant they attached the hangers onto the sides of the zinc, but they said that they actually soldiered the hanger INTO the open end of the zinc.

    It is working very well, and sure is easier. So thought I would share. As pictures are worth 1000 words.. I took photos that may help.

    Here is a photo of the corner of the zinc frame. although the photo does not make it clear, the side piece of zinc with that open end is level at the top with the top piece of zinc.
    note the opening in the side zinc.


    This is a shot from the top, with the opening on the right of the picture. Take no notice of the soldiering so far.. this is only my spot soldiering.. I will clean it up.



    This piece has about 130 pieces in it, and quite a few are rather small..cutting, grinding and foiling all these has done the usual number on my fingers.. lots of small cuts, and NO nails! OK.. ONE nail.. the one in the picture:biggrin:


    The finished piece is 17 X 27 inches.

    I have made this before, but never for myself.. and after working all those pieces.. I am not sure that I will ever do one for us :)

    Note the china spoon holder being used as the flux brush holder.

    This is where I am so far...

    it is a mailbox mounted in an old milk can, next to a wood fence. I will post the finished picture here once it is done.


    It ended up at 17 X 28 ...
    I still want to polish it up some more, but I am done for the day.. and want to take advantage of Einstein's Happy Hour.

    And the funny thing about glass. The most expensive glass in that piece is the gray Milk Can glass. It does not show up in the picture, but the glass is lightly textured and mottled, so it has that look of these old cans, faded splotches in spots.. Every time I do this piece I do not want to part with it.


    And another Tip that is not only for people working in stained glass.. but this tip is for everyone.

    Years ago the gentlemen used to have "Sleeve Braces" I remember my uncle has a set that were gold. They were an elacistized band that they would slip on their arms over their dress shirtsleeves. They slid it up the arm a bit so that it held the loose or slack part of the sleeve away from the wrist.

    This way they did not drag the sleeve through whatever they were doing. This was an age where you wrote letters, and you dipped a pen in ink. It was all too easy to drag a sleeve in the still wet writing.
    My aunty found they worked just as well for women.

    Now I have not seen any of them in many years, but I found the next best thing.
    I bought some of the larger sized elasticized hair (bunches) bands, and while I am working on the glass, I slip them on my arms and keep my sleeves dry when grinding.

    They are very handy. Just make sure that you buy them big enough.. or you will cut off the circulation


    Last edited: Jan 19, 2010
  2. Jeanie

    Jeanie Well-Known Member

    Very nice - Love it :doubleup:
  3. Corky

    Corky Well-Known Member

    Red - thanks for the tip on framing. That is actually how I do mine when framing with zinc. I started out that way and never even thought about making mitered cuts. LOL

    I love your hangers...how are you doing those? :scratch:

    The piece you are doing for Tom & Lori is beautiful. You are truly an artist and I hope one day to be as accomplished at this as you are. I love seeing your patterns and how you have everything laid out.

    Thanks for the tip on the hair bands...my partner, Pic, needs this as she is always soaking her sleeves. Everything in our studio is built for my height...5' 8"...and not hers...5" 3"...so she has it a little rough now and then. In fact, Den has to build her a box to stand on as she has to stand on her tip-toes to cut a piece of glass. Can't be fun for her. : (

    We have purchased the metal bars and push pins...and are now putting our patterns on a piece of foam board, which is on top of a piece of plywood, and moving our pieces around, which is so much easier than what I was doing before. It really does allow you to have more than one project going on at once...I currently have 4 now in various stages. Which is a good thing, so thanks again for posting your pictures. They have really helped me a lot.

    Ok - off to the studio for me or I'll be there in the dark tonight and Den brought home a movie for us to watch.

  4. NiteStar

    NiteStar Well-Known Member

    Red, your stained glass work is beautiful. I know nothing about stained glass, so most of your explanations were way over my head! LOL

    But......sleeve garters is one thing I know a lot about! I have 3 pairs of them and wear them almost everyday. I've had mine for years and don't know how I would have survived without them. I'm very cold natured and even in the summer, I wear long sleeve shirts. If I get hot, I just pull a pair of my sleeve garters out of my handbag and voila....short sleeves! I'm sure there are several different kinds, but the only ones I like are the original ones like this:

  5. red stripe

    red stripe Well-Known Member

    nitestar..... and you see they come from England :biggrin:
    Thank you so much for this link, the cloth ones are good for craft work, but I like to keep a set in the drawer with my small cutting boards etc. in the kitchen. Then when I get that urge to do a piecrust or something, I can slip them on and make dough without having the cuff covered with flour. These are much better for that use.

    Corky, yes, the foam board on top of wooden work boards are the best.

    You may have noticed that I did not have one under this project, but that was because I did not have a piece that was 28 inches long. I lost a few pushpins hammering them into wood:biggrin:

    did I tell you that we used to use horseshoe nails?
    and they are still good for squeezing a piece of glass within a pattern up against another while you tack soldier.

    I am now trying to remember the things I told you already.
    did I tell you that old toothbrushes are good for applying the patina?
    you can also use Q tips.
    Hopefully you DO wear rubber gloves when applying it? it is an acid, and when it gets into those tiny hairline cuts on your hands it will set you on fire.
    I always keep some Baking soda out near the sink just in case.
    I did tell you about using those cheap garden gloves to handle things when soldiering?

    I forgot to tell you about the bars etc. when you do it for a few years you tend to just take some things for granted.

    Did I tell you that making a few wooden jigs for use when doing straight cuts that you do often is a time and glass saver?
    I have a straight edge ruler that has a "lip" about 1 inch in on one edge of it. It butts up against the edge of the glass so that it does not move when you make your mark on the other edge. If you do not have one and wonder what on earth I am talking about.. I will take a picture of it for you.

    those hangers with the holes in it I buy from the glass store here.

    It just goes to show you how we tend to do the same thing we were taught and never think to see if there is a better way.. I was taught making those mitered cuts, and fitting them perfectly. We used the paperclips back then because there was not much in the way of supplies for the glass crafter.
    I still fall back on the paperclip use now and then. They are particularly useful when making suncatchers.

    I save old newspapers to place on my surface when applying patina, and again when polishing.

    Oh yes, they do make a Morton glass cutting surface that is very good for cutting glass on, as the bits fall down into the holes in it.
    But I admit that I do not have one. I still use a piece of paper towel, I cut the glass, shake the paper and use it again :)

    Now back to work. I have patina on as I type, so need to go down and get it off and clean and polish the piece.

    I use tape along the edge of the zinc when I start to patina, so it does not get on the frame.
  6. GloBug

    GloBug Senior Flea Coller Tester

    I've always wanted to learn how to do stained glass, but I have no idea how to start. Knowing me, I would use it to make valentines and small gifts and for events I might normally make cards for! LOL. Lovely job red.
  7. red stripe

    red stripe Well-Known Member

    And what is wrong with that Glo? People like to get things that is hand made. And stained glass make beautiful gifts.
    And learning stained glass can be done by seeking out either someone close that does it and is willing to teach. That is the way I got started.. or else looking up your nearest Stained glass shop. They are always giving classes.

    I have edited my first post and added the finally finished stained glass panel.
  8. JacquieP

    JacquieP Well-Known Member

    That's beautiful, Red! It almost makes me want to get back into it again, but I really don't have the space around here to work at it. I see you enjoy working with glue chip too.
  9. kpopperwell

    kpopperwell Well-Known Member Community Sponsor

    What a beautiful piece of work. You are so talented.
  10. Corky

    Corky Well-Known Member

    Red - your finish piece is Beautiful to say the least and Tom & Lori are so very lucky to be receiving it. I know they will enjoy it for many years to come!
  11. NiteStar

    NiteStar Well-Known Member

    Absolutely beautiful piece of art Red!
  12. Corky

    Corky Well-Known Member

    I want to add:

    Glo - I started doing stained glass for myself and for gifts. After I bought my 2nd piece, I decided I was going to go broke buying stained glass pieces from artists and that I Best learn how to do it on my own. I have, and I love it!

    Go take a class somewhere and see what you think. :smile:

    Red - so you frame your piece, and then patina it? I understand how taping the edges would keep the patina off the frame...but when you go to clean the patina off, how is it not getting on the frame then? Do you not wash the entire piece?

    How long do you leave the patina on before washing/cleaning off?

    I patina my pieces and then frame them. So just wondering. Maybe I can get rid of an extra step. Here are my steps after I finish soldering:

    1: Wash the entire piece. 2: Patina piece. 3: Wash entire piece. 4: Frame piece. 5: Wash entire piece.

    Happy Wonderful Wednesday!
  13. nieciez

    nieciez Well-Known Member Community Sponsor

    WOW that is just BEAUTIFUL Red....Lori and Tom will be so pleased. I LOVE stained glass :doubleup:
  14. tango55

    tango55 Well-Known Member

    Red I have to ask you how you post your pictures? I can see E's pictures on his threads from work, but not yours or anyone elses. I can see them at home though so will have to wait to see your lovely work til I get home.

    Just strange I can see his at work and nobody elses!

  15. Donna - dsw

    Donna - dsw Well-Known Member

    Terry - me too!
  16. Einstein

    Einstein Well-Known Member

    I believe her photos are hosted at PhotoBucket so perhaps that site might be blocked by your employer or at least that would be my guess. :doubledown:
  17. red stripe

    red stripe Well-Known Member

    Sorry for being so late on getting back to you on this. But yesterday was a major housecleaning day

    But to answer your questions Corky.

    Red - so you frame your piece, and then patina it? I understand how taping the edges would keep the patina off the frame...but when you go to clean the patina off, how is it not getting on the frame then? Do you not wash the entire piece?
    I could patina the piece before framing it and then not worry about getting stain on a frame. but when handling a piece this large, I really like the stability that the framing gives before I try turning it etc.
    To clean the patina off, I first use some balled up newspaper and then finish up with paper towels.
    Then when I have the excess up, I squirt some of the car wax or carnuba wax onto the glass and polish it.
    You do need to remove flux, and patina as soon after working on glass as you can. But you only need to remove flux with soap and water. The patina can be 'removed" with the wax.

    How long do you leave the patina on before washing/cleaning off?
    I clean the patina up within a few min.
    If it looks dark enough, then it is done. If you do want it darker, then clean up the excess patina with paper or cloth, and then reapply patina. I found that just leaving it on for ages does not really do anything more than potentially stain your glass. So I would rather apply twice.
    Although I rarely do this actually.. as it is going to darken up naturally over time anyway. After all.. all we are doing with patina is giving us that instant age darkening.

    I patina my pieces and then frame them. So just wondering. Maybe I can get rid of an extra step. Here are my steps after I finish soldering:

    1: Wash the entire piece. 2: Patina piece. 3: Wash entire piece. 4: Frame piece. 5: Wash entire piece.

    Here are my steps after soldiering.
    1. Frame piece.
    keep in mind that I am working with large and heavy pieces.
    soldier frame to glass, add hangers and soldier in place.

    get the bathtub (or sink for small pieces) ready with a small amount of warm water in it, and dish washing soap or shampoo.
    cart in the piece and immerse it in water, then gradually add a little more hot water to raise the temp a little more.
    I scrub it with a soft brush, then drain water, rinse off the piece with my hand held shower head.
    Blot dry with old towels and cart back to the glass room.
    finish drying it and then apply patina.
    wipe piece with paper or cloth.
    Polish piece.

    about the jigs..
    I do not have any these days, and am trying to figure out how to explain it. I need to draw one to show you.
    But here are a few sites that mention jigs, although I have not taken the time to see if they are what I would use.





    and I mentioned about the glass in the milk can and how pleased I was with it.
    here is a closeup so you can see how it adds to the piece.


    I love that you can buy glass that looks like wood, feathers, fur etc.

    and also..
    I did not mean to misinform you.. I only use the "piece of paper towel under glass to cut" when it is a small piece, like those small bits in the picture up above.
    When doing the original cutout of the project, I do the same as you.. smooth surface, cut.. sweep.. cut.. sweep:biggrin:

    As for those small flower centers, and the triangle of glass under the flag.. I wait until I have actually cut, foiled and fitted everything else and THEN I put a piece of tracing paper over the area they will fit in and trace it and cut them then. It sure beats that aggravation of cutting and grinding tiny pieces.. only to find at the last min that they are either still too big, or too small.

    You do use the Lead or foil shears when cutting your patters don't you?
  18. Corky

    Corky Well-Known Member

    Red - sorry, I had to run away. From Wed to now, many things have gone on in my life. I think all is good now...but it is early and still dark outside. :biggrin:

    For the most part, it seems like you and I do similar processes. I clean with an orange house cleaner spray and water vs dish washing soap or shampoo and water.

    Glad to know that the patina is an instant changing of color vs and over time changing of color. I'll quit letting the pieces "almost" dry before cleaning off. LOL

    I love the gray in the milk can glass. We pick up "special" pieces from the shop we go to in Louisville...we couldn't afford them otherwise.

    Did you use two different clear glasses or is that how the light is portraying the glass? It looks like two different designs to me. I want to do a Clear piece that Only uses clear glass of various styles.

    I'm finished with the one project that I was doing...and have the iris and 2 tulips foiled, I hope to be able to solder and patina and frame today. Then, I am working on hearts...and an American Cancer symbol. My girlfriend called, they are having a silent auction for the ACS, and asked me if I would make a heart for her to purchase and put into a basket she is making. I said, too funny, I actually have 3 of different styles cut out...and how about if I also make the ACS symbol for the basket...and I will donate them..1 heart and 1 symbol. So I drew the symbol out and made a pattern and am ready to cut the glass for it.

    Oh, speaking of scissors, you asked if we were using lead and foil scissors. Yes on the Lead, no on the foil...but I will be buying the ones for foil soon.

    Ok - I think I've covered everything. Thanks again for all of your help and tips...they are greatly appreciated. :smile:
  19. red stripe

    red stripe Well-Known Member

    "Did you use two different clear glasses or is that how the light is portraying the glass? It looks like two different designs to me. I want to do a Clear piece that Only uses clear glass of various styles."

    yes I did.
    The original design did not have a border, but it either needed that, or for me to have the pattern enlarged about 20% for the area it will be hanging in.
    If I had enlarged the pattern, it would have made it too long :) so I opted to make a border, and I did not want a coloured one, as I felt it would take away from the original pattern, and make it look squashed.
    So I opted to go with the same glass for the border, but with a larger pattern.
    It is still flowers and leaves, just bigger.

    In real life, it looks very nice, and makes everything stand out.

    I do intend to make it for myself this time, (most of the things in my stained glass photo album have been made multiple times)... and I know where it will hang. So I will get an enlarged version for myself.. while keeping the original size for the one my sister has requested (she has a narrower space).

    Keep in mind that the reason I am using the bath tub is because a lot of my work will not fit in the sink. When it will, I usually just squirt it with the dishwashing liquid

    I would love to come your way one day and see your work area for myself. What a time we could have.
  20. Corky

    Corky Well-Known Member

    Red - You'll love the piece once you make it and finally hang it for yourself. Funny, but most of my pieces have either been given away or sold as well, I have very few of my own. But, that is okay, and will change, hopefully anyway.

    Our door is always open. Come anytime...use our home as your base and travel around. We have Nashville below us, and horse country to the east and north of us. We have caves, we have history galore...Spring and Fall are the best times. Summer is fine, just lots of humidity. Although, this past summer wasn't too shabby.

    Off to work today...lator gator! And Happy Marvelous Monday :sunny:

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