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

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Someone out there is using XML for something... right?

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It's a glass cutter.
May 04, 2003: Appointment Glass
I've been having student-guilt deja vu just lately. It's not that I was ever a bad student, but I tended to be a lazy one. A fortunate aptitude for exams meant that homework always seemed unnecessary. I am positive that I must have caused at least one teacher over the years to re-evaulate the exam/homework proportions of his final-grade formula.

No one is grading me on stained glass ability, but I'm finding it tough these days to set aside time to do stuff outside of scheduled class time. My second class at The Art League has been going for, what, four or five weeks now, and today was the first time I managed to put in any serious basement time on my project. Who wants to hang out in a musty cellar, now that the weather's seemingly decided to stick with this spring thing for a while?

I'm building a ninety-six-piece, twelve-sided tiered lamp, whose overall shape is pretty similar to that of Protein's lamp. This is a step up from the four-sided panel lamp I'd originally planned to build in this class. I guess I wanted more of a challenge, and more bang for my glass-class buck. Have I mentioned before that I tend to be sort of a glutton for punishment?

I don't have a photo of the lamp in question, only a pattern. I can show you the pieces I've cut and ground, though, and maybe you can use your imagination here.

Ninety-six pieces of glass on my board, ninety-six pieces of glass...

The glass I'm using is Youghiogheny Stipple, number 1574, described on Youghiogheny's website as "Ice White, Pink, Green, Silver Yellow (Spring and summer flowers)." I bought several 9x12s of this at Weisser's spring sale, and the run I bought from must've been low on white and yellow, because it mostly looks mottled green with swirls of red. It sounds horrifically ugly. It might even be horrifically ugly. I haven't really decided yet.


The design of the lamp calls for one small accent chip on each of the twelve "sides," and I wasn't really feeling a bevel on what could already be a seriously ugly lamp, so I'm using a cream color out of the class scrap bin. It looks like a Bullseye, judging by some very distinctive peculiarities in the texture of the glass that are very like those in the Bullseye red I used for my crocus panel last fall. I'll try to remember to ask Jimmy at class tomorrow; he's a human glass catalog and I'll be ever so tickled if I guessed right. So anyway, this cream-colored glass, it's an interesting choice to go with the swirly green-with-red, because if you hold the cream glass right up to a light, it has a red undertone in its glow. Totally super-subtle.

I've been spending my class sessions cutting glass (and skipping out early, class is right around the block from where I work on Mondays, so going home would be pointless, which makes for very long Mondays), which is same old same old. I finally bought a Toyo pistol-grip cutter maybe six weeks ago, and am terribly glad I did. It's almost ten times as expensive as the basic steel-wheel cutters you can buy at the hardware store, but easier to maneuver, although the pivot tip can sometimes develop a mind of its own on types of glass that don't ever seem to come in perfectly flat sheets, like say, Youghiogheny Stipple. Still, it's well worth its price---I felt like I was just bludgeoning my glass to death with my old cheapie cutter; cutting works better for me now with the Toyo.

I finished cutting glass last Monday. Grinding would be the next task, and the choice between using my own grinder at home or using the ones at class that are used by twenty to thirty people per week finally motivated me to do some homework already. That's how I came to finally use my brand-new Nick's Grinder's Mate for the first time.

The Grinder's Mate is a tool I've seen alternately praised to the heavens and maligned as "SNUP" (cute Glass Chat slang for Serves No Useful Purpose), and it was relatively low on my long list of Glass Things To Spend Money On when one arrived in the mail for me, as if by magic, from someone who apparently could not stand the thought of ever again having to look at a creepy, up-close photograph of my mutilated fingernails. (Hi, Liz. Sorry 'bout that.) It does take a few minutes' acclimation, a large part of which has to do, I believe, with the dire instructions on the packaging about not holding the Grinder's Mate by its top handle. The natural instinct to do so is very strong---I've been reading The Inmates Are Running the Asylum by noted "interaction designer" Alan Cooper lately, and while his book focuses on software-based products, I'm pretty sure that Mr. Cooper would want to know why a feature of a hand tool that is shaped very much like a handle and is positioned very much like a handle is not, in fact, a handle.

Still, once I got over it and adjusted to holding the Grinder's Mate by its hinge, there's no denying that my fingers are grateful for the new work distance from both sharp glass edges and diamond-dust grinder heads. I ground all 96 pieces of my lamp today and nothing hurts, can I get an amen. Beats the hell out of trying to work with fingers losing circulation due to several layers of almost-protective electrical tape, too.

So tomorrow at class, in theory, I get to do some fun stuff, by which I mean, learn something new. I really have little to no idea how construction of a tiered lamp works. That's what Jimmy's for. Yay Jimmy! With any luck, I'll have some photos of new, fun stuff soon.

Speaking of which, I have a huge backlog of things I want to post here. Let's see: a summary of things learned at Weisser's foil class... figuring out how to attach Glass Bug: The Sequel to the lilypads panel... a way, way overdue photo of the "finished" crocus panel... a couple of photos of stained glass from around DC that I've been meaning to share... small progress on the transom-installation odyssey... some photos and thoughts from the Frank Lloyd Wright glass exhibit at the Renwick... mild griping about my disappointment with the first stained-glass project/technique book I've ever bought. I think that's all of it. The bad-student-guilt contributes to this backlog considerably. The internal logic goes like this: If you're going to spend a bunch of time playing with or writing about glass, it had better be related to your class project, YOU BAD LAZY SLACKER YOU. Still, all the loose ends are driving me quietly mad. So you see the rough spot I'm in, here. More news on my battle with my conscience, as it happens.

Posted by Michelle on May 04, 2003 11:19 PM

Glad to hear that your finger nails are intact! Can't wait to see more projects...

Posted by: Liz on May 5, 2003 11:23 AM

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