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?

Movable Type
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It's a glass cutter.
November 05, 2006: A Thousand Words

So, when we moved from the house in DC over two years ago, my AA battery charger somehow made the trip minus its power cord. As a result, usage of my "good" (i.e.: old, but capable of exquisite quality) digital camera fell off sharply. That's the one that can focus in on something from a few inches away. That's the closeup camera.

Maybe a year ago, I was standing in line at a Rite Aid a couple of miles away with a new battery charger in my hands. I had stopped in to buy cold medicine or something, and happened to see a battery charger, and decided to impulse-purchase it. But I'd forgotten the reason I rarely go to that particular Rite Aid---it's so goddamned slow---on this particular day I got so tired of waiting that I eventually dumped my battery charger and toilet paper or whatever, and sashayed out the door. I recently heard that the sordid little mini-shopping center where the Rite Aid is located may be torn down in favor of some glass-walled high-rise monstrosity; it's only with the smallest pang of conscience that I say good riddance.

I've been meaning for days to write a new entry about where things stand with the dogwood windows, but it needed pictures, and the little camera wasn't up to the job, despite its possessing the virtue of a convenient charging cradle. So the other night I went out to buy batteries at my friendly neighborhood corporate megalith drugstore, and lo and behold, they too now carry battery chargers. (They didn't used to. I'd looked.) Brought one home, charged up a pile of AAs, and dusted off the good camera for the first time in months.

That is how it came to cost me twenty-two dollars to find out that my good camera is dead. So I'll have to talk you through the glass update.

Once I had a draft production pattern all printed out at 100% and laid out on the workboard, it really hit me how small some of the pieces were. One round piece which repeats throughout the pattern is just 10mm wide; another repeating round is 15. So I had to ask myself whether I'd be able to bend lead around such a small piece smoothly enough that my circles would look like circles and not, you know, misshapen vaguely round messes.

I cut some test pieces of glass, and also bought some glass jewels in a few different sizes to test out as well---I've been thinking I'd like to use some basic faceted jewels rather than cut glass for the round pieces---and started trying to wrap lead around them. I started out working with a 15mm jewel. Turns out, even at 1/8" lead (which is in theory so skinny it's easy to bend), it's tough. The lead doesn't want to bend around in a nice uniform circle. Remember the episode of Six Feet Under where Claire complained that her art professor had her drawing freehand circles all day long? I could see how such an assignment would be frustrating and dull, but I could also see how such an assignment would be valuable because a nice *clean* freehand circle is really hard. Go ahead and try it now. Do your best. Whatever you come up with, it won't be a proper circle, and whatever you come up with, that's about how my 1/8" lead wanted to bend around my 15mm jewel.

It was a little easier with a 20mm jewel, and actually I managed to get very nearly a perfect circle with a 25mm jewel. So I thought, fine, I'll just scale up both of the circle elements in my design. Rock on, right?

Except the design looks all wrong when I do that. It throws off the proportions of everything else. Like so:

The original proportions are on the left; on the right the four circles at the edges are scaled up from 15mm to 25mm, and the circle in the center is scaled up a little bit too. I don't know quite how much because as soon as I saw how my pattern got uglied up when I scaled up the edge circles, I sort of threw up my hands and stopped working with the pattern then and there.

That was days ago, and that's where it stands now. I don't quite know what to do. I liked my original proportions very much. I can't make the windows in my living room any bigger, obviously. I could try to do a window consisting of 3 vertically stacked, larger versions of my pattern, but I like the more intricate 2x5 better. And I already bought glass according to measurements on the 2x5s, so I don't want to stray too far from those. Maybe I could do these windows in a copper foil-lead hybrid rather than in lead only? Foiling my small circles would eliminate the need to bend lead around them, but uch, I don't even like foil work, I surely haven't ever tried to combine the two methods; I don't think I want to go there. I don't know. I'll figure it out. But until I do, I can't build a thing.

Posted by Michelle on November 05, 2006 06:21 PM

will these windows be elements-facing? will there be another layer of window/glass/etc. between these panels and the outside world? if so, leave the circles open.

Posted by: Jessica in Dallas on November 7, 2006 12:46 AM

Well, I'd still have to lead 'em, or foil 'em, even if they were open. The glass isn't my problem... my design is my problem!

Posted by: Michelle on November 7, 2006 10:02 AM

good luck! you do great work so im sure you'll figure it out.

Posted by: Jessica from Dallas on November 8, 2006 09:54 PM
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