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 23, 2006: Soon Turned Out, I Had A Heart Of Brass

Today I stopped in to the The Art League School annex in Old Town Alexandria to see if I could find Jimmy, who taught a couple of classes I took back in the day. I wasn't sure whether he'd remember me, but way back then he'd said "Stop in whenever if you have any questions or anything." I didn't know if he necessarily had in mind "three years from now" but I was concerned about some design/construction issues with my new project, so: road trip!

As it turns out, he remembered me: this website may have helped. He said he'd found it just recently. So everyone say hi to teacher! Having maintained a web presence for going on eleven years now, I realized tonight how nice it is to hear the words "I found your website" and not have to wonder if I wrote anything embarrassing involving the finder. (I'm 99 percent sure I didn't: allow one percent for the recent comment about unsmiling staff at a certain glass shop where Jimmy once gave classes, and still may for all I know.) My clear conscience owes no debt to any particular prudence or virtue on my part; it's just that he's such a nice guy and so good a teacher that I can't imagine having had anything other than good things to say about him.

A case in point. The dogwood windows I want to build are 33 inches high by 14.75 inches wide. This seemed to me to be just about big enough that I'd need to use steel reinforcing bars, or rebar, in construction. Problem: I know nothing at all about using rebar. I went to Jimmy to find out if there was some way he could ease my troubled mind. I did not leave disappointed.

I showed him my design, and some photos of the room where I want to install the finished product. His first take on the situation was that, yeah, I'd want a horizontal length of rebar on each window. No surprise there. The bad news was that for structural reasons, the rebar would want to be on the *inside* of the window. The other bad news was that the rebar would want to be notched about an inch deep into the window frame on either side of the glass.

Here is where I began to have some doubts as to whether this was a good idea. Hacking up window frames sounds scary ("scary" and not "out of the question" only because I have an immensely handy husband). But then I showed Jimmy some closeups of the window frames in question, whereupon he realized that I had nice new windows ("Oh, you have thermopaned windows!" " that what they are?") and that changed everything. It turns out, I can basically build the windows as zinc-framed panels, and caulk them puppies right into the window frame in such a way that the crank opening thingie (er, "casement?" there's a whole world of window-related terminology I never knew about) still works, opening up the stained glass itself, while retaining the double-paned clear glass behind it.

This is a good thing because: 1) stained glass windows that actually move on functional hardware are way cool---I'm so glad we did the transoms that way, where by "we" I mean "Don". 2) Jimmy says he thinks I can get away with no rebar at all. The double layer of window glass behind the stained glass will provide enough protection from the weakening elements of sun and wind and etc. that Jimmy says I can just use reinforced lead came, which has a heart of brass for more structural support than lead alone offers. 3) You don't have to stretch reinforced lead, which means I won't end up bruising my coccyx on a concrete basement floor. 4) No surgery on my window frames is required.

Jimmy recommends DAP Dynaflex 230 caulk for the job. He says duct tape the window in enough to hold it up, caulk it in, let it dry, peel the tape, and you're good. The internet says Dynaflex 230 is paintable, a bonus.

For years, I have heard stories from Don about how his dad's answer to all home fix-it chores was "caulk the shit out of it." I have in fact been given many times a pop quiz in which the question sometimes varies, but the answer is constant: "caulk the shit out of it." This seems a close cousin to the common sentiment, popularly held by a certain type of solid, can-do, red-blooded American guy, that duct tape can fix anything. And so it seems that here tonight I have achieved the holy grail of male odd-job know-how: a job whose sole two agents are caulk AND duct tape. I have the strongest urge to crush an empty beer can on my forehead.

So basically I now have all my pressing construction questions answered, and there's nothing stopping me from diving right in. Honestly, I expected to end up asking Jimmy if he does any kind of private lessons, for me to learn how to use rebar. His spring class at Art League is about over, and the summer class doesn't start for a month, even if I thought I needed nine weeks of instruction. But I got everything I needed tonight in less than half an hour. A less generous teacher would have looked at my finished design and my fifty-dollar glass-buying spree and seen a captive audience of one, a tuition check in red beaded sandals. And that's why I'm certain I've blogged nary a negative word about one Mr. Jimmy Powers, stained glass artwork & repair, summer classes at the Art League School of Alexandria, VA beginning at the end of June.

Posted by Michelle on May 23, 2006 10:48 PM | TrackBack
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