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.
Friday, March 07, 2003: New Pretty Thing
And so I fled February, fled winter, as if all the demons of hell were behind me... when in fact they lay directly ahead. Here was my drive to Georgia: DC, snow; Virginia, rain; North Carolina, ice; South Carolina---well, it's South Carolina and doesn't need anything else; Georgia, fog. So much fog.

But we made it there in good time, somehow, and had a lovely trip. (Insert "y'all come back now" joke right... about... here.) We even acquired a souvenir, courtesy of Vineyard Antiques at the corner of Ponce and Charles Allen, from which location you can smell the Ponce Krispy Kreme, which puts it firmly within the radius of my old Midtown stomping grounds. Anyway, the souvenir:

A new mini-lamp.

It is a small lamp whose stained-glass shade features very nearly the exact pink and cream colors of Protein's lamp. Between that and its bargain price (twenty dollars! who needs U Street?), it was obviously meant to be ours.

(I do wish I'd pulled out my tiny camera long enough to get a photo of a hanging stained-glass lamp that was for sale at The Fainting Couch, next door to Vineyard. I had been taught that lead came is not strong enough to withstand the weight and gravity of 3D construction over time. This terrible lamp proved the point. Someone had put together this big heavy thing with lead came, and you could see where the came was sagging and drooping, causing the glass to begin to slip from its intended positions... someone who doesn't know any better is going to buy that lamp, and that someone is going to come home one day and find a great pile of broken glass and twisted lead on their floor, directly beneath where their ugly hanging glass lamp once precariously dangled.)

Photo from SGN.We won't be buying many more glass lampshades, however. Tomorrow I begin my beginner copper foil class at Weisser, which runs through April 5th; two days after that I'll be back with Jimmy at the Art League and doing 3D construction. Since I already know that Jimmy is all about letting students do pretty much exactly as they please, especially after having taken one basic class, I think I'm planning to build the panel lamp pictured at right (from Issue #57 of Stained Glass News). Or something like it, probably without the inclusion of any brown glass. Eugh.

It won't go with the pink lamps one bit, but the pink lamps don't go with the house one bit, so I call that breaking even.
Posted by Michelle at 04:45 PM | Comments (4)
Monday, March 10, 2003: New Pretty Thing Redux
Saturday afternoon I started my beginner copper foil class at Weisser in Kensington.

The instructor is a young woman named Sharon who had helped me at the store once or twice and who had impressed me then as seeming very competent and helpful. There are three students in the class, held in Weisser's little retail location in the Antiques Row area.

This first class session was mostly spent picking out patterns and glass; it's next weekend we'll start to get into the foiling process itself. Sharon did talk a bit about the differences between the lead and copper methods, the highlights of which were that you can do more intricate, detailed work with copper, and that as a result you see more pictorial or representational work done in copper, vs. the more symmetrical or geometrical work done in lead.

The downside to all this is that you have less cheating room in foil than in lead. There is no pre-formed metal channel to hold and hide less-than-perfect edges of glass. Instead, you're basically laying copper tape around the edges of each glass piece, then soldering all the way along the seams on both sides of the panel. The copper foil magically joins with the solder, or something, creating a solid framework that holds all the glass in place.

But all that is getting ahead of myself; for now I have been cutting pattern pieces and cutting and grinding glass. Currently I have 19 pieces cut and ground... 14 little picky flower-petal pieces remain.

Lilypads-and-lotus pattern; cut pieces with pattern paper still attached; samples of the blue, green, and pink Spectrum and Bullseye glasses I've chosen.

It occurs to me it's been a while since I did any cutting, but am back in the swing of things now, having slightly punctured myself a number of times over the weekend. Not too badly in any case, though, and in fact I did commit greater violence upon my hands cooking dinner on Saturday night, wielding too flashily a great big Wusthof chef's knife while bias-cutting green beans for stirfry. Even that pales in comparison to the still-healing damage I did shovelling out two-and-a-half parking places after the big storm of three weeks ago. Glass wounds may bleed dramatically, but heal neatly in no time. It's not such a bad deal, really.
Posted by Michelle at 08:41 PM | Comments (4)
Saturday, March 15, 2003: Just By The Hair of My Chinny-Chin Chin
Very busy week, but in a good way, mostly. Without much spare time on my hands, my "homework" for my copper foil class didn't get finished until this morning. I had some grinding to do, then getting the pattern paper off all the glass (and I am becoming antsy to try working with a lightbox; the paper really is just such a pain). I was doing that up until shortly before time-to-go.

I was going to be only ten minutes late, and had called to tell Sharon so. Then the delay was lengthened by my being sideswiped in Chevy Chase by someone who paused for just a moment, after leaving a scrape down the driver's side door of my car, and then hauled ass down a convenient side street.

He wasn't fast enough that I didn't get his license plate number, however. Damage to my car was minimal; damage to my person was none. I gave the information to the nice Montgomery County police officers who quickly arrived on the scene. They made some calls and found out that the person who hit me was a seventeen-year-old kid late to a soccer practice, or something. His mother says that he won't be using the car again in the near future.

I was thirty minutes late to class, so I was able in the end to get exactly one piece of my lilypads panel foiled today.

One piece foiled.
Posted by Michelle at 05:32 PM | Comments (2)
Saturday, March 22, 2003: Curses, Foiled Again
Twenty minutes or so until I have to scoot to get to my foil class. Let's hope this trip is somewhat less eventful than last week's.

I'm still currently short on spare time, but I should make some soon for updating this site. There's a lot I'd like to tell you about: the dubious fun of wrapping the edges of 1/8" thick glass in 7/32" wide copper foil tape; the joy of no longer having to basically bludgeon my glass into the proper shapes now that I have a Toyo pistol-grip glass cutter; the creepy hole I ground damn near straight through my fingernail completely without noticing, while grinding a piece of green glass not much larger than the eraser on a pencil.

But for now, I'll make do with a quick snapshot of my lilypads panel, all foiled, before I take it to class and start soldering all the copper seams this afternoon.

All foiled up and fit together like a puzzle.
Posted by Michelle at 01:12 PM | Comments (0)
Tuesday, March 25, 2003: Ouch, Part II in a Series
So yes. The hole I ground nearly through my fingernail.

On my poor, sad little index finger.

When you have long nails (or longish ones; mine do not approach the ridiculously unwieldy lengths which seem to denote in the wearer a certain aspiration to lady-of-the-court idleness, which itself suggests some connective link with the phrase "waited on hand and foot"), you tend to use them as tools. The benefit is that you don't feel any damage that should occur to your nails in the course of your labors. This limitations of this benefit are not to be underestimated.

How else would you hold a tiny triangle of glass, 3/8" on a side, for grinding, other than to push with the flats of your nails against the two sides of the triangle not being pressed against the rotating diamond head? I don't know, but clearly my method is not the optimal one. The irony (or the "irony") here is that it's an odd senstation to hold soft unprotected fingertip-flesh against the diamond head while the grinder is on, but it doesn't hurt, and does no damage at all.

The ground-away place on my fingernail doesn't quite hurt, exactly. There is a sort of twinge of protest that happens underneath, if I press against the reddest, thinnest part of the gouge (with the tip of another nail, natch). I suppose I'm very lucky I didn't grind all the way through. The gouge is, however, developing a tiny split down its center, which must lengthen infinitesimally each time the nail tip bends or flexes in an impact with the hundreds or thousands of objects and surfaces a finger touches each day.

Generally speaking I don't spend much if any time in grooming of my nails (another distinction between me and the lady of the court): they get so long, then they break, and grow some more, all without any aid from me. In this case, however, I think it would be foolish not to go and find the nail clippers already, before the ground-down-fingernail situation goes from creepy and distracting to supremely painful.
Posted by Michelle at 06:29 PM | Comments (3)
Thursday, March 27, 2003: Framing Another Transom
Lest it seem the transom project has been abandoned:

Don checking the fit on the wooden frame before fastening it all together. The photo is actually almost three weeks old, we've both been busy since.

Don has made some progress on the frame for the second transom. This time he decided to work with oak, not spruce, and seemed really pleasantly surprised at how much easier it made the job, just to work with a higher-quality wood. The harder oak shows fewer and shallower table saw marks than the spruce did, which will translate into a requirement for less puttying, less sanding, and fewer coats of paint.

The transom isn't installed yet; it's hanging out in the basement in its frame, C-clamped to the workbench. I'm guessing the reason why has something to do with drying wood glue, but where carpentry is concerned, I don't ask questions, I just fetch beers. I'll have to sweet-talk the man of the house into putting in a little more time on that frame soon; I think it's so close to done that one more evening of work could have it installed in its home over the dining room doorway.

I still have to putty the third and final transom. I no longer have the excuse of it being too cold to go outside where I can make a proper mess, so I suppose that will happen soonish.
Posted by Michelle at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)
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