Am pleased to report I'm feeling less useless with a glass cutter than I was at the first meeting of my stained glass class. Tonight, for a refresher, we started by hacking to death some more window glass, but I think we all quickly grew impatient with that, so the instructor showed us how to set up a pattern for cutting.
There are a few different methods of cutting glass to a pattern. The one we're learning is to actually cut up the paper pattern (called a 'cartoon,' I love that), then glue the pieces to sheets of stained glass, and cut around them. It must be one of the most time-consuming ways to do the job, but it also seems to me it'd be most precise.
A popular alternative is to use a lightbox to trace a pattern directly onto the glass and cut from there (as I understand it) but I can't quite figure out how that would work. How would you make sure the pieces all matched up? When you cut glass, you can't just lay down a single sheet of glass and cut out crazy jigsaw shapes all snug up next to each other the way they'll go into a finished piece---glass doesn't cut that way. Instead, the most complex shapes will require many individual scores and will produce a lot of scrap shards from around the piece being cut.
It does sound more efficient to smack down a piece of glass over a pattern lit from underneath and have at it, but with a pattern cut with pattern shears, you're guaranteed that all the shapes match up perfectly and that there's a uniform allowance for your lead or your copper. Plus, when you actually start cutting the glass, you know at a glance when you're so much as a tiny fraction of an inch oversize, because you've got your precisely-cut pattern piece stuck right there and you can just check for peeking edges.
And when you find them, you take 'em on over to the grinder and grind it down to shape. Need to buy one of those for home. My pattern has two or three times as many pieces as most of the people in my class have in theirs, which means I'll never finish by Thanksgiving if I don't do homework. And we can all cut at the same time but there are only three grinders for all of us, so... I'm doing the math.
I'm thinking also a Shop-Vac is probably a good idea. I suppose I'll be doing my glasswork in the basement, and that's the kitties' turf... it would not do to get glass slivers stuck in soft kitty paws.
Speaking of. Flesh wounds today: a couple of cuts next to the fingernail on the index finger of my left hand, from where the saw hopped off its wood when I was putting together my workboard this afternoon. Also, tiny scratches on the ball of the thumb and underneath the second knuckle of the middle finger on my left hand, didn't notice I had been cut 'til I looked down and saw blood. I expect those were from cutting while bracing my hand on my workboard without brushing away glass dust first. I feel as if I've been let off pretty easily so far where bodily injury is concerned, but I'm told that will change once I start grinding. Says Jimmy: "If you weren't bleeding already, you will be now."
Below: tonight's successful cuts (the paper won't come off til assembly begins, which won't happen until everything's cut). I got through all the green glass in my pattern. 8 pieces down, 61 to go. Notice the proportion of that pile of scrap glass and fuckups to actual usable pieces. I'm afraid now that I don't have enough of the cobalt blue glass. But that's okay, I needed to go glass-buying this weekend anyway, to come up with the three square inches of yellow glass that I couldn't find in the class scrap bin.
Posted by Michelle on October 08, 2002 11:52 PM