Ipod/Iphone/Phone Nightlight




Introduction: Ipod/Iphone/Phone Nightlight

A tiffany glass instructable for an Ipod/Iphone/Mobile Night Light.

An old school hack for a modern device.
Setting any phone or iPod screen inside this nightlight will transform it into a vintage tiffany glass lamp.

Whats needed.

Safety Goggles (It is glass after all!)
Gloves (if using chemicals)
Any type of opaque coloured glass.
An adjustable temp soldering iron or a set temp glass soldering iron.
Glass cutter.
Glass Grinder (handy but not essential, any grinding stone to remove the sharp edge off glass will do.)
Adhesive copper foil.
Bakers solution or flux.
Solder (the thicker the better)
Patina or Polish.

Most, if not all of these items can be found at a glaziers or bought from hardware shops or found online.  Most items are very cheap to buy. 
The grinder is only essential if you wish to drill or shape the glass into more complicated shapes. 
Standard, annealed glass (NOT toughened glass - it can't be cut!) can be sustituted and painted instead of coloured glass.

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Step 1: Workspace

I'd like to show you a neat, clean workshop, filled with cool and precise tools, but sadly, my kitchen table will have to do!

I've been making tiffany pieces for some years now and to be honest, any space that can hold your tools and materials will do in a pinch.

Step 2: Cutting the Glass

Cutting glass precisely is an easy skill to learn but it does take practice.  Try a few practice cuts on cheap glass or an old mirror to get a feel for the cutter.

When using a glass cutter, remember to keep the cutting head pointed perpendicular to the glass and keep it well oiled.  A steady, firm pressure, cutting towards you will ensure a good cut.  What you're after is a steady score on the glass surface.  The sound it makes when cutting is a good indicator of how well your doing.  

The cutter is completely safe to handle and will not injure anyone (unless you try to eat it!), as the blade is actually a fine steel wheel, coated in hard mineral, its the glass thats inherently dangerous.

To get neat parrallel pieces, I cut the glass using the width of a steel ruler to ensure consistancy but its up to you how you measure the glass.

Step 3: Grinding and Making the Edges Safe

I have a glass grinder and to be honest, they're pretty cheap, easy to use and the grinding heads last a very long time if they're used correctly.  For this example, I only used it to grind the glass edges to make them a little safer to use, allow the copper to adhere more efficiently and to gently shape out the area for the ipod cable but all of this can be done with a flat stone and a little water. 

Hold the glass upright on a surface and stroke the edges gently in one direction to take off any sharp edges.  It isn't essential but an ounce of prevention beats a hundred pounds of cure (and a great deal of swearing and plasters!)

Step 4: Clean and Check the Glass

Have a quick check to make sure that none of the pieces are too big or small and the overall size looks good.

Give the glass a thorough clean to take off any oil, grease and dirt that may be on the surface and edges.  The cleaner it is, the easier it is for the copper to stick.

Step 5: Copper Foiling the Edges

Ok, so I copper-foiled all the glass.  You can see the roll of copperfoil in the right of the picture.  Its pretty much like metal selotape and only needs a bit of care to do correctly. 

Basically, you peal the paper off the back of the foil and place the edge of your glass in the centre of the tape and wrap it all the way around the glass.  If done correctly, there should be an equal amount of tape on either side of the glass edge that needs to be carefully ovelapped onto the glass and sealed neatly with a bit of pressure using a boning peg.  You can see a boning peg in the picture; the short black plastic tool but anything that won't tear the tape can be used. (I used a wooden spoon when I first started). 

You can see closeups of what the foiling technique should look like in further pictures.

Step 6: Tacking the Pieces Together

Copper and solder don't mix so flux or a liquid called 'Baker's Solution' is used to make the solder adhere neatly to the copper. 

You can use an old paintbrush for this and don't worry about being too messy, we can always clean this up afterwards, just try not to get too much between the copper and the glass as it can remove the adhesive.

At this stage its a good idea to tack the pieces together just to make sure everything fits smoothly.  Soldering everything together without checking means that if a mistake is made, the copper foil has to be stripped off the glass to correct it.  Tacking the pieces with a small amount of solder means mistakes can be corrected just by melting the solder away and repositioning.

Step 7: Applying Solder

Once the position of the pieces is correct, a thin coat of solder is applied to all the exposed copper. 

Paint all the copper with the flux or Baker's Solution and use the soldering iron and solder to 'paint' the copper. 
With the flux or solution applied, the solder should easily and fluidly stick to the copper. 
Aim for a thin layer as lumps can cause problems when adding additional pieces. 
Make sure that the edges and the inside and outside copper get a good coating.  You're aiming for no exposed copper to be seen.

It does take a little practice to get it right but once you've learnt how to do it, you can solder a whole piece in no time at all.

Step 8: Quick Check

I removed a small segment from one end so I can slide the charging cable through the slot.  This is because I made mine specifically for an iPod but most phones have much smaller cable ends.  With a bit of practice, you can cut a notch in the glass for your own or alternatively, make one end from two pieces of glass with half a groove cut from each which may be easier to begin with.

Step 9: Adding the Base

I could have cut the base of the nightlight when I started the project but sometimes, no matter how carefully you measure, the base may be too small or large to fit.  This is due to the added copper-foil and solder and sometimes due to a readjustment when soldering the sides together.

The best technique is to solder the sides together then place the unit onto a piece of glass then use this as a template for the base when drawn onto glass to get the perfect size.

Once the base is cut, coppered and soldered, place the sides onto the base and it should fit beautifully and snugly inside the box as you can see in the picture. 

Tack this into place with solder, just in case you need to reposition.

Step 10: Soldering the Corners and Joints

Now the corners and internal joins get a thicker application of solder to make the structure stronger and more substantial. 

The solder is really the skeleton of the whole piece and how well it holds it together is based on how this stage is done.  The long, exposed edges recieve a thin layer but joins and corner look far better with a thick application inside and out.  Don't worry about solder spilling onto the glass - it won't stick.

Do be careful, it is molten metal after all! 

and yes, I still have the scar!

Step 11: Protecting the Inside and Base

This step is completely optional, I had the leather spare from another project so I used it but to be honest, a nice thick card or piece of material is just as good.

The rubber domes are fantastic for this kind of project as they add a bit of friction and protect anything the Nightlight is placed on but if you have trouble finding them, just glue pencil end rubbers on the base corners or leave them off altogether.

Step 12: Making the Lid

To make the lid, the same problems can occur as when making the base so use the completed sides as a template for the overall size.  You can see this in the picture, drawn onto the paper when I cut and positioned the pieces for the lid. 

With the sides and base, I cut straight, angular pieces of glass but the lid contains cut curves.  Again, this takes practice but its easy to do.  When seperating scored curved glass, tap gently but firmly UNDERNEATH the scored line several times and the glass pieces will seperate gently.

Step 13: The Lid and Patina/Polish

Clean, Copper-foil and solder the lid pieces together and as we used the box as the template, the lid should be perfectly sized for the box.

I also painted a black patina that oxidises the soldered edges of the nightlight.  This gives the box a beautifully uniform finish but you can just as easily use polish to give them a shiny finish.

In a pinch you can use copper sulphate to apply a shiny copper finish but its nasty stuff to use and is horribly toxic so take great care if you decide to.

Step 14: The Finished Piece

And here it is!!

When charging your phone or iPod, turn on the screen torch and place it inside.  Depending on the design you choose or glass colours, it adds a lovely vintage feel to a room!

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    2 Discussions

    That's awesome! I've been wanting to do stained glass projects again for years now! Beautiful work :)


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks Penelope, its really appreciated! I'll add some more projects up soon.