Introduction: Illuminated Stained Glass Faberge Style Egg - Full Instructable (UPDATED!)
Runner Up in the
The Forbes Fabergé-Style Egg Contest
This is my egg. It was partially inspired by the Coronation Egg and the Hoof Egg. I saw the Coronation Egg as part of a Faberge exhibit that my Mom dragged me to years ago. I went along to be a good son not thinking it would be that interesting as I knew nothing about the Faberge Eggs at that time. It was one of the most amazing exhibits I've ever been to.
The Coronation Egg blew me away because of the carriage inside the egg. It was an exact working replica of the carriage the Czar and Czarina rode in for their coronation ceremony. It had windows of rock crystal and a suspension that actually worked. This egg inspired the color scheme of my egg and the placement of the jewels.
Honestly I had forgotten about the Hoof Egg until I went back through the book I picked up at the exhibit with many pictures of the eggs. The Hoof Egg confirmed that attaching the legs directly to the egg had a precedent in the Faberge catalogue and helped me hit on the idea of using horse heads as the legs.
The stained glass came to me, because I remember all the enamel work on the eggs and I was trying to think of how I could recreate that effect. The glassy look of the enamels reminded me of glass, which led to the stained glass stuff I have in the basement from a class I took years ago.
I added a small little figure with a king of the sea motif. It just seemed to fit with the neo-classical (I hope that's the right period) of the egg. It also provides a focal point for the egg.
I first published this as a slide show, but finished a full intructable version to answer some questions regarding its construction.
Step 1: Tools
Stained Glass Portion (available at hobby stores):
- Glass cutter
- Glass breaking pliers
- Glass grinder
- Soldering iron
- Soldering Iron Controller (optional)
- Utility knife/razor blade
- Something to smooth copper tape
- Drill & bits
- Drill bit sizer
- Dremel with cut off and grinding attachments
- Utility knife
- Putty knife (scrap plastic will do)
- Screw driver
- Snips or wire cutters
- Seamstress measuring tape
- Grease pencil
Step 2: Materials
Stained Glass Materials:
- Stained glass
- Copper foil tape
- Cutting oil
- Flux brush
- Water for grinder
- Pattern for glass design
- Glass cleaner and paper towels
- Large plastic egg with a transparent top half
- Something to serve as legs (I used metal horse heads from an old coat rack. You could probably find some finials in a home decor department that would work.)
- Hardware to attach legs
- Gold spray paint
- Frosted glass spray paint
- Metal duct repair tape
- Night light with electric eye.
- Scrap plastic (approximately 4" by 3" a.k.a. a hotel keycard)
- Two screws with nuts
- "Jewels" and other assorted bling
- Super glue
- Epoxy (Two part liquid)
- Epoxy putty
- Sand paper
- Steel wool
- Figure or toy
- Wooden candy stick with ball end
- Small ball bearings
- Small plastic balls (Map pin heads)
- L brackets or something to make them out of
- Rubbing alcohol
- Blue Painters Tape
Step 3: Stained Glass - Pattern
A disclaimer before we begin: It has been several years since I've done any stained glass work and I was not an expert by any means. So please forgive the less than perfect results.
The first step with stained glass is to have a pattern to work from. It is a very difficult art form to improvise as you go along, and you typically end up with bad results if you do. The guy who taught my stained glass course recommended getting a pattern book, using a kids coloring book as a pattern or sticking to simple geometric forms. This is because unlike other media glass can only be cut in straight complete lines due to its molecular structure. Unlike wood or metal which can accommodate curved and partial cuts. This is a nice way of saying curves are a pain, and wouldn't you know it? Eggs are curved.
I laid the bottom half of my egg on a piece of paper and traced around the perimeter. Then I drew out a simple geometric pattern within the outline. I went with a sun shining down on the water kind of motif. I'm not sure why other than I had colors it worked with. Then I labeled each shape with the first letter of the intended color. Next I made several copies. This is so I could cut out the individual pieces to trace them onto the glass. When you cut out the pieces you want to be just inside the line. This will compensate for the width of the solder when the pieces are assembled.
After making my copies I laminated the original pattern to piece of cardboard with packing tape. This provided me with a relatively waterproof guide that I could check pieces against during the cutting and grinding process.
Step 4: Stained Glass - Cutting Glass
Now we need to start cutting glass. Place your template cut from your pattern on the glass. Trace it. You can't cut glass like wood or metal. It has to be in straight and complete lines. What I mean is that you can't just cut part of the way into a piece of glass and cut in another direction. If you try this the glass will just shatter/break in a way that more than likely won't be what you intended.
(They have specialized cutters for circles but I've never tried them so I'm not sure how well they work.)
Lubricate the wheel of your glass cutter with cutting oil. Lay a ruler or other straight edge across the glass. If your finished edge will be a straight line try and score over top of the marked line. If the final shape is curved try and place the line as close the shape as possible. Hold the ruler firmly in place and use the cutter to score a line across the glass. Press the cutter down with firm even pressure and pull toward yourself. Only score once. If you try it more than once the multiple score lines will cause it to break in a way you didn't intend.
Once you've scored the line use glass breaking pliers to break the glass along the scored line. Most glass breaking pliers have a ridge that marks the center of the pliers mouth. Try to aligning this ridge with the score line and then squeeze. If all goes as planned the glass will break along the score line. For curves try and trim as much excess away by scoring lines perpendicular to the traced outline. This will mean less to grind down later.
Sometimes even if you score it perfectly for some reason the glass breaks in a way you didn't intend. Whether this is due to an imperfection in the glass, a technique error or alien experimentation with the fabric of the universe varies from case to case.
When this happens start over on another piece of glass. Or try it again on another section of the same piece of glass.
Step 5: Stained Glass - Grinding
Now we need to finish the piece off with some grinding. Grinding does two things for us:
1) It removes excess glass from the shape we are trying to make
2) It roughs up the edge so that the copper foil will better adhere to the edges of the glass.
In theory you can grind glass by hand with a wet grinding stone. If you are looking for a tedious task grinding glass by hand would definitely fit the bill. I use a powered glass grinder. This is a simple appliance. It consists of an electric motor which spins a diamond grinding bit. The a sponge draws water out of a reservoir to cool the bit and clean glass debris away from bit surface. It sprays water and wet glass particles everywhere so wear your safety goggles and cover things you don't want to get really messy.
(Just a little tip: Always use a vacuum to clean up. Even on your clothes and hair. The little glass particles may look like dust, but if try and brush then away with your hand you could be cut.)
To use the grinder you apply some downward pressure on the glass to hold it to the grill and push it into the bit. There will be some kick back when the glass contacts the bit that you will have to compensate for. I try to make passes along the edges of the glass and take off a little at a time. It is very difficult to describe how to do it. It is something you get better at over time with practice and experimentation.
As you're grinding you can check your progress by placing the piece on your laminated pattern.
Once you've ground your glass to the desired shape clean the piece with soap and water or glass cleaner. This will remove any residual glass dust.
Step 6: Stained Glass - Foiling
After the glass pieces are cut we need to add the copper foil tape. This tape is what will allow us to solder the pieces of glass together. It comes in various widths. I'm using 1/4" wide tape. The reason for this is because this what the guy teaching the class I took gave us. :)
You want to have one continuous piece of tape go around the perimeter of the glass piece. One piece of tape will make for a stronger bond and fewer deformations due to tape seams.
To start foiling, peel the backing off the end of the tape. Try and place the edge of the glass in the center of tape so that equal amounts of tape will over hang the glass. In our case this will be about 1/8". (Almost all glass is 1/8" in thickness so placing the glass in the middle of 1/4" wide tape will leave an 1/8" on each side).
Once the entire perimeter is foiled use something to apply a lot of pressure to the tape and smooth out the wrinkles. I used a little plastic wand that I got in the course of my stained glass class. Once you've smoothed out this portion of the tape fold the 1/8" flaps over onto the faces of the glass piece and smooth them down as well. When you fold the tape over you will get bunches at the corners. You can remedy this by making a small cut in each corner or folding it over and trying to squash it as flat as possible.
Now unless you're very experienced or a machine the glass wasn't placed perfectly in the middle of the tape which means the foil may not line up perfectly when folded onto the face of the glass. You can use a razor blade or utility knife to remove any bits of foil that don't line up quite right. This isn't that big a deal, but your solder line may look a little off later. Of course only about one person in a billion would probably look that closely.
Step 7: Stained Glass - Soldering
Now that the foil is in place it is time to solder them all together. According to my instructor this is the part that makes the project look awesome or like crap. Just so you know I'm really not that great at soldering.
Transfer your pieces to a surface that won't burn and can have thumb tacks easily pushed into it. Molten solder will more than likely be contacting the surface which could start a fire. Thumb tacks are used to hold the pieces in place so that the pieces aren't knocked out of alignment. The surface I use for this is an acoustic ceiling tile. They will scorch (and smell bad, a little like burnt popcorn), but they don't catch on fire.
Use a brush to apply flax to the joints and edges of the pieces. Then add solder to the joints and edges. I turn my soldering iron controller up to the highest setting (ten) as this ensures the solder will flow in between all the pieces. The edges are soldered for two reasons:
1) It looks better because you have a uniform color
2) It strengthens the piece
Once you solder the front wait for the piece to cool and then flip it over. Then apply flax and solder to the back joints. This will ensure your piece is super strong.
Now turn the piece back over and dial your soldering iron down to about seven. Re-apply solder to the joints. You're trying to create a nice even bead of solder with as few imperfections as possible. This will give it a finished and professional look.
Once your soldering is done wash the flax of and pat dry with paper towels.
Step 8: Egg Body - Cutting the Shell/Lamp Mount Prep Part 1
In this step we will begin working on the egg body. Just a note about the pictures. I'm describing the process slightly out of order from how I actually did it. For some reason I jumped back and forth from working on the lamp and the legs. To try and document this in the ible I think would leave it rather schizophrenic in nature and make it unpleasant to try and read. This is how I should've have worked on it.
First we'll have to cut a hole in the back of the egg so we can install and access the night light. I made this a little overly complex. I laid it in the bottom of the egg and and traced around it thinking I would cut from the inside out. After I traced the lamp I realized that getting my Dremel in the egg would be tricky. So I swore a little bit and then held the egg up to the light and traced the outline onto the back of the egg. Once the outline was transferred I cut it out and cleaned up the edges with a grinding stone.
Now that the main access hole is cut it is time to mark the screw positions. You'll want to make sure your scrap plastic will be wide enough to cover the access hole and provide adequate material for the screws to pass through. I did this by holding it up to the light. Then I marked where I wanted my screws to pass through.
Once marked, determine the diameter of the screws and drill pilot holes. Then use the holes as a template so you can drill corresponding holes in the scrap plastic.
Step 9: Egg Body - Lamp Mount Prep Part 2
Now we need to finish up the lamp mount. Take your scrap plastic with drilled holes from the last step and lay the night light on it. In order to keep the bulb from contacting the wall and make it decorative there should be a plastic lip of some kind. You want to trace around this area. Then cut a hole in the scrap plastic that fits over this lip.
Next place the scrap plastic over the screws and secure with nuts. If your scrap platic overhangs the bottom of the egg use a marker to trace where the excess extends beyond the egg. Once it is traced cut away the excess and then check the accuracy of the cuts.
Step 10: Egg Body - Legs
Now it is time to mount the legs. For legs I used some decorative metal horse heads. I got these from a wall mounted coat rack that was in our house when me moved in. Since I don't think they are very common, you'll probably have to come up with an alternative. Finials from curtain rods or lamps would be good substitutes.
Now determine where you want the legs to be. I did this by holding the egg bottom at the angle I wanted it to sit and then positioning one of the legs so that it would hold the body in this position. Once I thought it would work I colored around the screw hole in the back of the horse. With the marker applied I put the leg in position again and pressed firmly. This left a mark for me to drill on.
Next I found a screw in my parts stash that fit the head, sized it and drilled an appropriate pilot hole. Now attach the leg.
After you attach the first leg, you'll need a second or the egg will look silly. to determine where to place the other leg. I held a marker across from the screw of the first leg and kind of eyeballed it. Then I repeated the whole finding, sizing and drilling process.
Once the legs are on there may be a gap between the legs and the egg. I had this problem and solved it with the help of epoxy putty. Using the putty also will hold the legs in place. You simply cut off a chunk of putting squeeze it until it is a uniform color and then force it into the gap between the egg and the leg. Once it is dry sand off any excess.
Step 11: Figure Assembly
To complete the look of this egg I wanted a three dimensional component once the egg was open. I decided to go with a little statue of the king of the sea. Or my version there of.
I used a rubber fish figure from a vending machine, a wooden sucker stick, ball bearings, a round washer thing, the heads from map pins and a pen clip to build my king.
First cut the ball off the end of the pen clip. Then stab the fish in the back with an awl until the hole is big enough to receive the trimmed pen clip. The rubber with close around the pen clip to keep it in place, but I put a dab of epoxy on the end to make sure.
Now for the scepter. I sanded the end of the sucker stick. Then drilled and ground five holes in the ball on the end. One in the top and one on each side. Then I epoxied the ball bearings in place in two phases with a hand from my trusty bench vice. Once dry I expoxied the scepter to the fish king's hand.
Every king needs a crown. I secured the pointy end of the map pins in my bench vice. It was then easy to pull their heads off with my bare hands. Then I super glued the balls to the washer thing. Once it was dry I glued it to the king's head.
Step 12: Painting
Now it is time to paint. Prepare the plastic surfaces of the egg and lamp mount by rubbing with fine steel wool. The finer the better. Then wrap the screws protruding from the back of the egg with painters tape. This will keep paint out of the threads.
Now place the egg, fish king and lamp mount on newspaper and spray paint them. I chose a nice flashy gold. You may need several coats to suppress the original color of the materials and to get even coverage.
Step 13: Inner Egg Treatment
Once you've painted the outside of the egg we need to finish the inside of the egg. We need to make sure that light is directed through the glass and doesn't shine through the body of the egg. To do this we're going to coat the inner surface of the egg with metal duct repair tape. This is aluminum with an adhesive on the back, not your standard grey duct tape. Since it is metal it is very shiny. You just peel the backing and stick it on. I used scissors and a utility knife to cut the excess away from the edges.
Step 14: Lamp Mount - the Final Chapter
In this step we will complete the lamp mount. Apply the reflective tape to the side of the mount that wasn't painted. Use a utility knife to trim the tape out of the screw holes. Make sure the tape is connected to the sides and bottom of the night light. This will keep the light in place and serve a mold for epoxy.
Once the lamp is taped in place and you've trimmed the excess off the edges turn the lamp mount over. Now spray some of the same paint you used to paint the egg exterior into a small container. Then add epoxy and mix. Once it is thoroughly mixed apply the epoxy to the sides of the lamp.
Step 15: Glass Attachment
Now to begin the process of attaching the glass. To do this we're going to need three small L brackets. I didn't have any small enough so I made my own. I carved them from a piece of aluminum stock left from a failed version of my poo fork.
First prop the egg up so it is level. Then put epoxy on one leg of the L bracket and clamp it in place. The surface of the non-epoxied leg of the L bracket should be even with or a little bit above the top of the egg body. Repeat with the other two brackets. (If you wrap packing tape around the clamps the epoxy won't bind to them.) You'll want to try and place the brackets in such a way that they are behind the solder lines of the glass or in other inconspicuous locations.
Next you'll want to clean the face of the stained glass that will face inwards. I used glass cleaner to remove any dust or fingerprints. Make sure it is really clean as you will never be able to clean this side of the glass again.
Once the glass is clean apply epoxy to the L brackets and then seat the glass on the brackets. I just let the weight of the glass hold it to the epoxy and brackets. I didn't use clamps or weights in order to avoid damaging the glass.
The last part of this step is to attach the figure to the glass. Choose a spot to mount the figure on the glass. Mix up some epoxy and place a generous blob on your chosen spot. Then put the end of the wire protruding from the figure in the dab and hold it until the epoxy sets.
Step 16: Upper Shell - Part 1
Now we need to complete the upper shell. First clean this portion of the egg with glass cleaner (both inner and outer surfaces). Then spray paint the inner surface of the egg with frosted glass spray paint. Once the paint has dried try to fit the cover in place.
It was when I reached this point that I realized that my grinding/cutting/soldering was off and the upper half of the egg wasn't going to fit like it should. This is where you swear. A lot. Then you walk away, go drink a Dr. Pepper, watch some TV and contemplate your next move.
My solution is as follows: I found the area where it was hanging up and ground a gap in the upper portion of the egg so it would fit over the protruding part of the glass.
Next I camouflaged the cut mark by gluing bling around the perimeter. I used super glue to anchor one end of the bling and then glued down about every fifth piece all around the perimeter of the upper half. You may have to glue more pieces on the tighter curve of narrow end of the egg. I also made sure to glue the pieces on either side of gap I cut to accomodate the glass.
When I made it around the perimeter to the starting point I was confronted by a problem. The ends weren't going to line up. The space left was too narrow. So I cut off an indvidual piece of bling. I then narrowed it with nippers and a Dremel to make it fit the gap and glued it in place.
Step 17: Upper Shell - Part 2
Now we come to placing the individual pieces of bling on the upper shell like the Imperial Eagles on the Coronation Egg. I did this by cutting the strings between the individual pieces of bling. Once that was done I used forceps and a torch to melt/burn off the remnants of the synthetic string that had been holding the bling together.
Once the bling was prepared I used a grease pencil and a seamstress measuring tape to mark 1 1/2" intervals down the center line of the egg. Then I glued individual pieces of bling on these spots.
Once the center line was done I laid out a diagonal pattern using the measuring tape and grease pencil. I tried to follow it but I ended up eyeballing a lot of it. The curvature and uneven proportions of the egg dictate that placement will not necessarily be at even intervals.
I then used rubbing alcohol to clean the grease pencil residue from the surface of the egg. This is when I discovered that super glue will actually bond the grease pencil to the egg surface. So if you look carefully you can see little yellow marks on the egg surface. I would suggest you either draw the pattern on the inside of the egg, or develop some other way to apply the pattern.
Step 18: The End
Put the cover onto the egg. Plug it into an extension cord and bask in the four watt glow.
Step 19: Post Script
The egg has been safely returned and the folks at Forbes were kind enough to e-mail me some pictures of it on display along with the other winners. Unfortunately, they were unable to illuminate it because of lack of power access. But, I still think it looks pretty spiffy. So here is the egg in situ.
We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.