Introduction: Scrap Stained Glass Panel
I have been practicing stained glass for about 10 years now, and through all of that I have amassed an embarrassing amount of scrap.
I can't bring myself to throw it away, because-
A) they look good and I may use them someday...
B) they are tiny dangerous sharp things and
C) I don't think they'll break down over time in a landfill...
for these reasons I have held on to them thinking I would use them sometime. Well there is no time like the present! I didn't want to create a traditional mosaic where you attach the glass to the outside of something and fill in the gaps with grout. I have done some experiments with epoxy recently and really enjoy the results.
So without further adieu, let's deal with my hoarding, ahem...collection.
Supplies needed for this build are:
Scrap Stained Glass
Mosaic Glass/Tile Nippers
Large Ziploc bag (for glass shards)
Repurposed Frame (or other object) to attach glass
Sandpaper and Paint (if you choose to paint the frame)
2 Part Epoxy (I used ArtResin for it's UV resistance) +Mixing container, Scale, Rubber gloves, Stir stick, Foam Brush, Glass Cleaner
Fishing line, Drill, Drill bit, 2 "S" hooks (to hang in window)
Step 1: Glass Preparation
To even get started thinking about what I wanted to make, I needed to start with a clean slate. I emptied all the glass I had in boxes and drawers and bins onto my light table to take inventory. I realized that before I could make something, all the glass pieces would need to be cleaned.
Since I had to handle each piece individually to clean, I figured I'd count them- turns out I had 1,225 pieces of colored glass, and that didn't even include the "newest" pieces I had or the clear glass. That was a chore in and of itself. There was tape, sharpie marks, dust and grime all over the pieces, and I didn't want to encase that in the new project.
Once that was done and all the pieces were sorted by color and type, I could move on to the next step in the process.
Step 2: Glass Preparation...the Second Part
Once the glass is cleaned and sorted, lay out your design and choose how much glass you want to use. Because I used tiny shards for this design to mimic rain, I wanted to have enough to fill the space but not so much it's crowded.
Use the tile nippers to chop the glass into tiny pieces. This took quite some time because I couldn't stay focused. I ended up doing a few pieces of glass every day over a few weeks to have enough.
A cautionary tale here: I placed the glass in the Ziploc to break it, because cutting glass this way can send tiny bits of glass flying everywhere! You don't want a piece of glass ending up where it shouldn't! Sometimes the act of breaking the glass would cause a shard to be lodged in the sides of the bag.
Once all the glass is in shards, you will find tiny bits of glass dust. (last photo) I used a dusting attachment on my shop vac to vacuum the dust out of the bag before using.
Step 3: Frame Preparation
This is the top secret tip where the magic happens...
Have you ever taken art to have it framed? Were you then shocked at the unbelievable prices?!! I know...I know. Makes you want to buy a table saw and build your own frames...but that's another instructable altogether.
Sadly it seems like frames come in one of 2 categories: super cheap and ready to fall apart if you look at it funny, or well made and in the triple digit cost range. What to do?
Well, here's the secret: go to the thrift shop and pick up a frame that is solid, well built- that someone else paid a lot of money to have made. You can find really nice frames at unbeatable prices...if you don't want to build your own frames from scratch...this is the way to go.
This is how I get many of the frames I use for my art. I apologize for not getting a photo of the art in the frame I used before I broke it down, sanded and painted it...I was too distracted by that other frame! Look beyond what is IN the frame and look AT the frame.
The glass needs to be washed really well so you don't encase beautiful work behind/inside a dirty piece of glass. Once it is washed and ready to go- put a bead of silicone around the inside edge. This will prevent the epoxy from oozing out the sides in the next step. It's OK if applying silicone isn't your forte at this step...you can always clean the excess off with a razor blade.
Step 4: Glass, Meet Epoxy...
For this step, measure how much epoxy is needed to cover the area about 1/8" deep-then use HALF. If you pour that much in at the beginning, the pieces will float around and you won't be able to place your design where you want it. Make sure you are working on a level surface.
Use a foam brush and apply a thin later to the back of the glass- this will be enough to glue down a layer of glass. Place the glass using the design as a template. For this piece I sprinkled the shards onto the surface and then arranged them as needed. You'll notice the umbrella piece was moving around, and I needed to keep an eye on it for about an hour until the epoxy was tacky enough that there was no movement. Cover the epoxy as it cures to prevent dust and hair contaminants from sticking to the epoxy.
Let the epoxy cure overnight and scrape the excess off anywhere you don't want it- in my case the back of the couple. Once the first layer was cured, I poured on a second layer so the glass shards were almost completely encased in the resin.
Step 5: Hang in the Sun and ENJOY!
I drilled 2 holes at the top of the design and used 35 lb fishing line to hang the piece in the window. I used "S" hooks to attach it to the brackets that hold up the blinds in the window, that way I didn't need to add any additional screws to the opening.
I really enjoy this technique and as a bonus it casts really nice shadows in the evening sun! This is a really simple technique that has a lot of potential. You can tint the resin to any color you want to add a "grout" layer between the glass.
Thanks for following along!
Second Prize in the
Recycled Speed Challenge