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.
November 14, 2006: Spinning in Circles

I'd about decided that I was going to have to suck it up and do the dogwood windows in a combination of lead and foil in order to stay true to the nice proportions I'd designed---my little circles were just too little to be very lead-friendly. It was not without a generous helping of pout-and-whine that I made this decision. It seemed like I'd want to foil about half of each 200-piece-plus window, and if anyone ever tries to tell you that copper-foil stained glass work isn't tedious, they're lying, I say: lying.

So I went ahead and drew a final production pattern. Blue lines for lead, red lines for copper.

And then someone offered a thin ray of hope. A gentleman named Tod Beall who haunts most of the stained glass forums on the web, as far as I can tell, made a fiendishly clever suggestion via the Glass Chat board:

    You CAN lead those little circles and the 1/8" round [H lead] is perfect for it. Find a round object close to the size of the circles, maybe the body of a marker, or 1/2" dowel. Wrap the lead around this object several times (the number of circles plus several extras) in a tight spiral or coil. Handle with care; I often cut the lead while still on the form using an Xacto backsaw, but you could use lead dykes also. Start with one full circle (loose the straighter end and just cut from curved portions), cut it free and see if it fits your glass. Adjust and trim excess if necessary. If it's too short, cut the next one a little longer. This is an old trick and it works very well. Of course, it's always easier to shorten one that's too long....


Or that's what it sounds like anyway. I haven't tried it yet. I think I will tonight. Don was trying to decide whether to go to a Krav Maga class or a work-related happy hour (his customer these days is the happy-houringest federal government agency in Washington). But I might've trumped both options. My successful deployment of feminine wiles consisted of suggesting that we could spend the evening in the basement together, me playing with my stained glass, him playing with his latest woodworking project. Who could resist, I ask you? No husband of mine, is who.

In parallel to trying to figure out how to actually build what I've designed, I've also been trying to figure out how to create water-resistant, reusable pattern pieces. Remember that the glass grinders used to smooth and tweak the edges of cut glass are water-cooled; if you use the paper-pattern method of glass cutting (rather than the lightbox-and-tracing method, whose practitioners smugly trumpet their superior technique but which doesn't work nearly so well for someone with unsteady hands, e.g. me) you'll end up soaking your cutting pattern pieces, and ruining them if they're plain paper. For all the time it will have taken to draw and cut such a complex pattern, I'm not up for doing it twice---I wanted to be able to peel my pattern pieces off of Window #1 as it was assembled, and use 'em again for Window #2. Options abound here: draw on clear vinyl, or have a sign-making shop with a cutter-plotter produce pre-cut vinyl pattern pieces from your design, etc. I opted to pick up some clear Mylar from Michael's with which to "laminate" my pattern pieces, using spray adhesive. Took some experimentation to come up with a process which didn't result in chemical obliteration of my Sharpie lines by the spray: the secret is to spray the Sharpied pattern piece with the adhesive and let it sit for a few minutes to partially dry before affixing the Mylar.

Here's something else about Mylar: one piece is clear, but 25 clear sheets (as in the package I bought) are an almost-perfect mirror. Aaaand, if you bend the Mylar around, it becomes a funhouse mirror. Behold the result of my inability to resist shiny objects:

My head is amoeba-shaped. Awesome.

Also procured last night at Michael's: five new Sharpie markers in colors I didn't have before. Riches beyond my wildest dreams: markers make me unaccountably, gleefully happy.

Posted by Michelle on November 14, 2006 05:18 PM

MYLAR! You are brilliant, woman. Like you, I have taken a multi-year break from stained glass and while thinking about getting back into it, lurked the irritating marking/grinding disappearing lines problem! I found your blog last night and have been wildly entertained... I think it is a necessary prerequisite for all of us artsy types to be a little eccentric. I did the fire engine red hair too.

Posted by: Catherine on June 11, 2007 05:36 AM

I have a question about the mylar sheets. Are the mylar sheets as good as a normal mirror? If you were to stand right in front of the mylar and back away from it, would your image distort or stay the same like a normal mirror? And does it turn into a fun-house mirror only if you touch it?

Posted by: Flourine Marinel on February 2, 2011 01:33 PM
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