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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It's a glass cutter.
October 15, 2006: Breakdown; Regroup

It was May when last we spoke. May: a good month. In fact, a very good month. Lucky thing, that: the other 8 1/2 months of this year have been, by and large, absolutely unbearable.

My beloved Zima cat (whom you may remember as my occasional glass-shop assistant) died on March 31, at eleven and a half years old; she'd been mine from a tiny kitten. She lost a short but ugly fight with cancer, which had first appeared in early March. She became ill the same week that my beloved Shadow dog (whom you may remember as the dog we adopted to keep Tashi from eating any more furniture) also got sick. His illness was harder to identify, and so we tried every treatment for every symptom. For weeks this went on: I gave him pills and shots and subcutaneous fluids and force-fed him and cooked special food for him and logged hundreds of road-miles back and forth between home and various vets. I dropped the classes I was taking; I cut back on work. In my grief at losing Zima, it was out of the question to give up on Shadow. Bless Don's sweet, kind heart: he understood.

In April, it finally began to seem as if all our work had not been in vain. The vets were throwing around words like "miracle." Slowly the daily course of medications and special foods slackened, until there were no more shots, no more fluids, and far less scrapple and lunchmeat in Shadow's food bowl.

In mid-May, Don and I took a week's vacation in West Virginia. We took the dogs with us. Shadow and Tashi climbed mountains and strained at deer and jumped in lakes like natural-born athletes; Don said Shadow was in better shape than we'd ever seen him. While we were in West Virginia, Shadow began to eat plain old dry food again, for the first time in two months.

In late May, I felt like the misery of trying to keep on top of work, school, and wifedom simultaneously with grieving for one pet and fighting for another's life was finally behind me. For the first time in months I could look into the future at a point farther out than a day or two, and be unafraid. It was during this time, for example, that I began to formulate plans for the dogwood windows project: it would be a big one, but hey, nothing compared to staring the grim reaper in the face and telling him he'd been a houseguest for long enough; his impositions upon my family had grown tiresome; don't let the door hit you in your ass on the way out.

On about June 7, Shadow developed a cough.

On June 11, Shadow died of congestive heart failure.

I lost my shit completely for a while. I had given everything I had to trying to save Shadow; I had nothing in reserve for taking care of myself in the event that I should lose that fight. Stained glass was not at the top of my to-do list.

Now, here we are. Four months later. I guess I'm about through the process of crawling out of the deep black hole I've been hiding in. In July, we adopted a new husky to keep poor lonely Tashi company; last week we adopted a new cat for no real better reason than that no one else wanted her and she'd spent months in a 2x2x2 cage at PetsMart. My sporadic fits of crying are much reduced, although the junk food/comfort food habits of the spring and summer seem to be sticking around for the long haul.

Last month I had a birthday (30, for which the most appropriate celebration seemed denial, so I dyed my hair neon punk-rock red). As my gift, I asked Don to build me a workbench for glass work. Et voila:


The only must-have functional feature of the workbench as I proposed it to Don was a couple of very, very shallow shelves, just tall enough to slide in a plywood workboard containing stained-glass-in-progress. You would think that cats would neither walk nor nap on top of little pieces of cut-up glass, but experience has taught me otherwise, so these cat-proof shelves are absolutely key. As Don built them, they are just perfect, and I am most tickled. Handy husband to the rescue, indeed.

In the last week, I've visited Weisser Glass twice. They moved into a new location while I was laid low with grief and self-pity; the new space is at least four times the size of the old one and I find it sort of intimidating somehow? Like, if I was going to peel my sad self off the couch long enough to come patronize your business establishment, the least you could've done was kept the old, familiar, cozy, safe store just long enough for me to get my bearings. Gosh, I sure hate it when the world doesn't revolve around me. But anyway, I have purchased a bunch of nifty things:

  • Lead came, a bit wider than I've worked with before, in order to accomodate--
  • Strongline steel reinforcement strips, to be slipped in between lead and glass for extra strength
  • U-shaped zinc framing, a bit skinnier than I've worked with before, in order to accomodate--
  • Pre-routed oak wood framing that you can slide a zinc-framed panel into, the purchase of which Don reacted to as if I'd told him I was seeing another man ("You're two-timing me! I could have built this! Why didn't you let me build this? How much did you pay for it?")
  • 60/40 solder, because while I was able to find the 50/50 solder hidden deep in the bowels of Don's workbench, I couldn't find 60/40 (the full listing of the many glass tools he'd appropriated in the last 3 years would require an entry all its own)
  • Flux brushes, because you can never have too many
  • Horseshoe nails, because somehow mine rusted while sitting unused for three years

Still need to procure plywood workboards on which to build the windows, and a zinc saw, or a plain old hacksaw with a 32 TPI (teeth per inch) blade, because the rust that got my old nails also got my old zinc saw. And still need to finalize life-size production patterns; I keep procrastinating on that because I'm not actually sure whether the oak framing is appropriate for this project (might make installation harder). If I don't use it, that affects the width of the window, which affects the pattern, which makes my head swim with the effort at keeping straight the math, in sixteenths of an inch. I actually got really good at fast conversion and addition of eighths into decimal while Shadow was sick, because once he started eating again, I measured and logged everything he ate or drank. For some reason I chose to draw the line at recording in sixteenths of a cup. Because filling up the lower half of homemade Microsoft Word medication logs with tiny print recording the helpings of chicken, beef, rice, kibble, canned food, scrapple, lunchmeat, and cheese that my dog ate each day for two months in increments of a relatively fast and loose 0.125 cups is clearly on the safe side of the crazy line, right?

Posted by Michelle on October 15, 2006 08:05 PM

Hi Michelle,

It is so funny that I happened to check your web site today, when you updated. I am so sorry to hear about your losses. The last time I emailed you was on June 11th, the day you lost your beloved Shadow. I think you emailed me a few days before that.

Glad to hear you are starting to recover.

Take care,

(a.k.a. Kitchen-Remodel Girl)

Posted by: Johannah on October 16, 2006 12:46 PM

Hi Johannah---

Thanks for the kind words. Did you ever take the plunge into the exciting world of cooking on a hot plate in your basement? You've never really lived til you've done that, let me tell you.

Posted by: Michelle on October 16, 2006 07:12 PM

Hi Michelle,

No kitchen yet! We did a walkway, bushes, and windows this year. We hope to do siding the year after, and THEN the kitchen and lower bath. Yes, two for one punishment.

Anyway, I just wanted to write that I think you are one of the most amazing people I've met, not to mention strongest. You've done so much for animals and even though Shadow didn't live the life for which you had hoped, he still had more time, thanks to you. If you ever would like to chat please send me an email.

Good luck!

Posted by: Johannah on October 16, 2006 09:18 PM

just looking at the pic of your workbench i noticed that thru the window in the door, it looks cold. brrr!

Posted by: Jessica from Dallas on October 20, 2006 09:32 PM


I can't even imagine how difficult these last few months must have been for you. I am so very, very sorry for your losses. I know that your pets are your children, and that kind of loss...and grief...must be incomprehensible. Glad things are starting to look up now, though. Hang in there.


Posted by: Kim on October 21, 2006 07:14 PM


I am so very sorry to hear about the loss of your two beloved pets. My heart ached when I read this news that you lost two in such a short time. I can't even begin to imagine as I also have pets which I consider children. I know that your grief has been great. I hope that as time passes, it continues to subside.

I stop by every once in awhile to see your projects. I am continually impressed with your artistic ability! Keep up the beautiful work.

Amy from Atlanta GA

Posted by: Amy Tardo on November 7, 2006 01:52 AM
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