Adventures in Dangerous Art
I'm learning the art (or is it a craft?) of stained glass. At this weblog, I record progress, note useful links, and document flesh wounds.


The Art League
Where I took a lead class and a 3D construction class.

Weisser Glass Studio
Where I buy supplies, and where I took a foil class.

Virginia Stained Glass Co.
Where I buy supplies if I happen to be in Springfield and if they happen to have what I want.

Great prices on supplies, a lively and helpful Glass Chat message board, and excellent Technical Tips on stained glass tools and techniques.

Glass Galleries Links List
A list of Glass Chat users who've uploaded photos of their work.

The StoreFinder: Stained Glass Store Front
Lots of articles. Tutorials
Even more articles. Particularly recommended: "Anatomy of a design" and "Wood frames."
Courtesy of Google Groups.

Nancy's Beginner Tips and Tricks
Scoring, breaking, soldering, finishing, and more.

Splinter Removal Tips

Syndicate this site
Someone out there is using XML for something... right?

Movable Type
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It's a glass cutter.
October 12, 2002: No, We Can't Still Be Friends
Apparently, the tenderness I feel for red glass is strictly unrequited. Red glass does not love me, and in fact, only tolerates me for the sake of maintaining social equilibrium among our mutual friends.

Maybe it's a Bullseye thing. Tonight was my first shot at cutting any glass of that brand and right from the start, the sheet was different from what I've played with before. The glass was textured on both sides: an unpleasant discovery. The conventional wisdom says to always make scores on the smooth side of the glass, so as to increase the chances of a break that follows your score line and not a ridge in the texture of the glass; I suppose I assumed that there would always be a smooth side. The sheet also had two rough, poured-looking edges instead of nice straight cuts. The rough edges were raised a bit, slightly thicker than the rest of the sheet, making difficult a good start to a score (you only get one shot, if a score is weak you can decide to break anyway and hope for the best, or call it a loss and work around it). And for whatever reason, I found it tough to start scores on this glass even on straight-cut edges... is it possible Bullseye glass is just, like, harder than Spectrum or GNA?

Lastly, I was sufficiently unencumbered by clues to realize that the sheer size of this sheet of glass might call for a unique approach. Um, probably there are a lot of stained-glass craftspersons who would have no problem making a two-foot-long score on double-textured glass and then getting their running pliers to effect a nice straight two-foot-long break... but I'm not one of them yet. Baby steps, Michelle... baby steps.

Fortunately, I eventually got a handle on things and stopped fantasizing about how nice my crocus panel would look with a background of clear, untextured window glass. In the end I cut fourteen red pieces, plus the redo on the problematic piece of Cobalt Blue from a couple nights ago.

35 pieces down, 34 to go. Ninety-four percent of the remaining cutting will be of the Bullseye red. Ugh ugh.

The photo below, looking as it does a whole lot like most of the photos I've posted here to this point, is interesting for one reason only: my total-area ratio of cut pieces to scrap was way up tonight. (And would have been even more so had I not attempted that two-foot break, ending up with several only-partially-usable smaller chunks of glass.) Alas, the sudden improvement has more to do with my pattern than with my mad skillz: there were only two curved sides involved in tonight's 14 pieces, and everything else was straight lines. If I'd been working with a pattern that called for an equivalent amount of red, except curvy, I'd've cast away the evil bumpy red glass in favor of pillaging Don's basement stock of dusty window glass pretty damned quickly.

14 new red pieces, plus the new blue problem child. Very little scrap. I even shared some edge cuts between two pieces. Yeah, I know I said you can't really do that. I meant, except if you're cutting a whole bunch of like-sized equilateral triangles. Or rectangles.

Posted by Michelle on October 12, 2002 11:45 PM

The tools are a one-time investment so I understand laying out that whopping expense, but I'm pretty surprised by how costly the glass seems to be. How much has it totaled, just in glass, for this particular piece you're working on?

Posted by: Kim on October 14, 2002 09:06 PM

Total for this panel, I'm up to around $70 for nearly ten pounds of glass, ranging from the $9.25 per pound red glass to the $5.00 per pound green. I don't know how much variation can exist in glass densities or weights, but with what I've been buying, a pound is probably about a 10"x10" sheet.

That'll include some pretty good leftover chunks---after I bought my glass I redesigned from one crocus to two, so I didn't need all that spendy-ass red after all, and then of course I have most of an 8"x10"ish Dark Violet sheet---but who knows when or if they'll get used. The scraps are probably primarily useful as a well-I'll-use-it-someday justification for the sheer cash outlay involved in glass purchases.

Of course, a decent piece of whatever you buy has to go in the trash too, particularly when cutting curvy things.

Buying online is cheaper but then you need to either know what you're ordering or be open to surprises. While I was ordering my grinder, I ordered two orangey-yellows just to see what I'd end up with... both were way off from what my monitor showed, but they were a hell of a lot cheaper than I'd've gotten them shopping at Virginia Stained Glass. One of the 8x10 sheets was just $2.19 so I don't feel too bad that it's going to sit in the basement til I need an orange so dark it's almost brown. Whenever that may be.

All mine is pretty basic glass. It gets more fancy and accordingly more expensive. You can buy glass with fancy etched or swirled-color patterns, and on up to what's called dichroic glass, which is made by coating glass with different materials in a sterile vacuum chamber and then, like, nuking it somehow... it actually came out of the NASA space program, as I understand it. It's like extra-shiny hologram glass; the color changes if you look at it from different angles. Dichroic glass is insanely spendy, I've seen two hundred dollars for a 19" diameter circle---and that's online at Warner-Crivellaro, which is the place whose prices I was praising before. Cannot even imagine what you'd pay for it in a place like Virginia Stained Glass. I'm gonna stick to boring old cathedral glass just so I never have to know.

Posted by: Michelle on October 14, 2002 10:54 PM

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