Introduction: Sharing O' the Green - Irish Maiden Made in Glass ( No Pun Intended)
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine on your windowpane.
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you.
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
I only hope that I can do justice to this instructable and to those reading it, so anyone who wishes can make one for themselves. Following these instructions you should be able to create your own work of art in glass at home Don't let stained glass become a dying art form!
What you will need:
The Pattern (2 or more copies is best to have)
Glass scoring blade
A suitable cutting surface (I use a grid for a drop ceiling placed over an old xerox glass plate)
A light table (the above surface is placed on an old aquarium stand with a clip-on work light below it)
Glass marker (a china marker works well since it will not wash off easily)
A flat surface with a large work area (mine is made from an old wire spool that is 4 ft in diameter and 3 feet high when turned on it's side)
A glass grinder
Copper tape (for Tiffany style stained glass. You can also do this using lead or lead free H came and glass putty)
Zinc U-came or sun catcher came)
70/30 Solder (type used for stained glass. Do NOT use plumbers solder or any solder with a solid core or acid core)
A small brush or Q-tip to apply flux
Aluminum push pins (to hold the pieces of glass in place while soldering)
A cork board (to piece and to hold the pieces for soldering)
A good soldering iron with a 3/8 in flat tip (you can purchase a tip especially for soldering stained glass)
Soldering iron tip in 1/8 inch for any decorative soldering
Coarse bristle brush
A mild ddetergent
Wipe-on patina (if desired)
Carnuba wax or good quality car polish
Soft cloths (for cleaning, polishing and just to keep handy as needed)
and of course the glass-
1 sq ft of green (or color choice for dress and head piece)
1 sq ft pale pink, or flesh tone
1 sq ft golden yellow (or your choice of hair color
1/3 sq ff or red (or desired flower color)
2 sq ff or clear architectural glass for background
EYE PROTECTION ALWAYS!
Gloves for working with chemicals and when grinding glass
Band-aids (because no matter how experienced you are you never know when you might get a nick)
Working with glass can be dangerous, as well as the chemicals and equipment you will be using. For my own shop I stick to these rules:
NO eating, drinking or smoking (you may have pieces of glass or chemicals on your hands that will transfer to your mouth and cause harm).
NO bare feet or open tow shoes (and although I am known as the barefoot bohemian I do wear moccasins when working. There are almost always slivers of glas or metal on the floor!
NO cchildren under the age of 12.
No pets, no matter how much they whine wanting in there
NO unattended persons are allowed in the shop at any time.
If you chose to follow this instructable to make you a stained glass piece, please follow ALL safety guidelines.
Step 1: Prepare You Pattern and Glass
Decide on the size you want your finished piece to be. I am making the one 11" x 15".
You will want two copies (minimum) of the pattern. Since this is a design I tend to make often, I cover one pattern in clear contact paper to protect it from moisture.
Next choose the colors you want for your piece. This is an Irish maiden and green is my favorite color so have chosen green for her dress and head piece, red for her flower and a yellow/golden yellow for her hair, for the skin I have chosen a pale pink/flesh tone.
Make sure all your glass is clean before starting.
Lay put your pattern on a light table to begin tracing the pattern. When tracing pieces it is best to leave at least 1/2 inch or more between pieces. Although this may seem wasteful, it is far less wasteful than losing multiple pieces due to breakage when cutting too close together.
Use a marker that will be easily visible on the surface of the glass. China markers work well, and will stay intact somewhat when grinding the glass. I have not found any marker that will stay on throughout the entire process of cutting and sizing the piece.
Things to know about glass:
All glas has a right and a wrong side to score on. Even in the smoothest appearing glass, you will a "grain" or pattern that lets you know which side or the glass was on the bottom during the glass making process. You want to score your glass on this side, and it is best for you to mark it on this side.
There are different levels of quality in glass. Many hobby stores which carry glass will carry "end run" pieces. This is the glass that was literally at the end of the run, and is often filled with bubbles, fractures and stress areas that can make scoring it cleanly difficult. It is best to get your glass pieces from a reputable glass dealer. The extra money will pay off in less scrap glass in the end.
I keep a no scrap policy for my shop. Not that there isn't left over pieces after scoring out a pattern, but even the tiniest pieces can be put to use in some way. I keep bins for my "scrap", and it is used in other projects or sometimes sold in bulk to people looking for glass for mosaics.
Now that you know which glass you want to use, and which side is up, Start marking out the pattern pieces to be scored. It is a good idea to number your pieces so you don't have to search and guess as to where they go later. This is particularly true with patterns that contain a large number of pieces. Some patterns may contain 10's of thousands of iindividual pieces.
If you have ever cut out cookies, you can apply this idea to marking out your pattern. However, you cannot squish up and re-roll the glass like cookie dough.
You also want to pay attention to the direction of the grain and any pattern in the glass. (more on this when the "hair" pattern pieces are marked out)
Step 2: Special Considerations for Certain Pattern Pieces
You may l want some pieces to immitate the real life items they depict. Such as fabric and material. You may want to use a pattern that allows it to look as though it is draping. Hair is definitely one of these circumstances.
To make the glass look more like hair I have chosen a glass that is "swirled" and streaked with various colors of yellow and orange. Notice in the photo that one side of the glass looks completely different from the opposite side. With light going through the glass these two sides blend to form their own distinct pattern. I looked at the side that was to be the main side in view and chose to follow the streaks so that the hair would "fall in place". Since this was the opposite of the right side for cutting I had to mark the score lines backwards, so that the end product would be as desired.
This is also where I broke the rule of not cutting pieces too closely together. I chose to make the braid one long piece and then separate the pieces after. This can be difficult and risky and often will cause breakage where u do not want it. If that occurs you will just have to score out a new piece and do the best you can to match the pattern.
*Seperating close pieces is when a glass saw can be very useful. A glass saw is handy for intricate areas or (breaking the rule of separating your pieces). I chose not to use my saw to show these cuts as they are possible without the investment of a saw. Glass saws can be quite expensive and bulky in a small shop.
Anything that can be cut out with a saw can also be done by hand. After all, stained glass was around for thousands of years before electric tools and gadgets were around. )
Breaks do happen, no matter how exacting you are and no matter what your experience level, they are just bound to happen.
Step 3: Check to Make Sure the Pieces Fit.
This can be one of the most frustrating parts of making a stained glass piece. 1/16 inch may not sound like much, but when trying o get all the pieces to fit together it can see like a huge amount.
Check each piece to the pattern, grinding and resizing as needed. You may even find you need to cut a new piece entirely.
The closer they pieces are situated, the better the soldered seams will appear when it is finished.
You may have to do a lot of grinding, but be aware that a coarse grinding head can easily remove a lot of glass. Grind only a little before checking the fit. You can always take more off, but if you take off too much you will have start that piece all over.
Grinding also gives the glass a better surface for the foil to hold onto later when you foil the glass.
Step 4: So Now All Your Pieces Are the Right Size
Wash all the glass to remove any residue and ground glass.
For this thickness of glass use 7/8 inch copper foil. I chose a silver back since it will be visible through the architectural (clear) glass and I want it to match the solder. Copper foil coes in various widths for different thickness of glass or different applications. It comes with a plain copper backing, silver backing and black, and also come in some designs for decorative uses.
Be sure to center the foil on the edge of the glass. There are many different tools available to assist in foiling. Most of them aren't worth the money spent on them, however I have found the foiler pictured to be quite helpful since I don't always have the steadiest of hands. It is very inexpensive and easy to use. The only draw back is that you would need one for each different width of foil, and that would make it useful only for that one width of glass.
To foil the glass, starting at least 1/8 inch away from a corner, carefully center it on the glass and press is down while removing the paper backing. Corners and sharp turns, cut the foil so that it will lay flat on both sides of the corner. Allow a slight overlap when you have come around the entire piece.
Once all the pieces are foiled you need to use a fid, or my favorite is an old pencil, to burnish down the foil so there are no creases or bumps and the foil is adhered well to the glass. If the foil is not completely stuck down, flux will seep under it and the foil will not hold. Burnishing down the foil also makes for a cleaner solder and better bead.
If there are places where the foil appears wider, use a utility knife to score away the extra foil and even it out. Now is the time to fix any problems with the foil tape because once you have fluxed and soldered it is very difficult to remove and clean the area and get new foil tape to stick.
Step 5: Tinning the Glass Then Time for the Fun Part- Forming the Bead!! :)
You need to apply flux to the foil tape and with your soldering iron set at about 6-7 on the rheostat (this will be 60-70% of your soldering irons full power) take a small bit of solder and clover the foil with it. Tinning is simply applying a thin layer of solder to the copper foil in preparing for soldering.
Once you have tinned all the pieces, refit the pieces according the the pattern. Use the aluminum stick pins in the cork board to keep the pieces in place and as close together as possible.
Use a small bit of solder to tack solder the pieces in place before soldering. Unlike tinning and other types of soldering, you want to keep your soldering iron just slightly above the area you are placing the bead on while holding the solder just behind the tip. Do not go back and forth on the solder, move only in one direction. If your bead does not come out how you want it, apply more flux and re-do it. Do not try to fix it by going over the area you want to change.
A proper bead on a stained glass piece should be at least 1- 1 1/2 times as tall as it is wide.. This can take some practice. Where seams intersect you want to try to draw the one bead into the adjoining one so it appears as one continuous line.
I say the "fun part" be because for me anything that has to do with solder is a blast. When I was little I would make solder jewelry when my dad was working with solder. Course no one ever told me that wearing lead probably wasn't a good idea....oops!!
Step 6: Get 'er Done- Now Say That With a Bit of an Irish Brogue :))
Now that the entire piece is togther and the bead lines are on, you need to reinforce the outer edge with some came. I use a lead free came (since I probably was exposed more than I should have been as a child :))
Measure the outer diameter of the piece and using lead cutter, cut off a section of sun catcher came. Place it on the lead stretcher and stretch it. This will help to strengthen the came as well as straighten it.
Tack solder it at where the bead lines on the piece meet the came.
Solder on a sturdy ring to use for hanging. To make rings all the same size, and round; wrap some 18 ga copper wire around a pencil. Slide it off and cut it into jump rings.
Wash the piece well with a mild detergent and a soft bristle brush. Dry it with a cloth.
Use carnuba wax, or a good quality automotive wax to polish and protect the piece. Depending on the area you live it, you may need to wax the piece every year or so to protect from oxidation.
Find a a good window to hang your Irish Maiden, and ENJOY! She will bring rainbows into your room but I can't guarantee the pot of gold.
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