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
Weisser Glass Studio
Virginia Stained Glass Co.
Glass Galleries Links List
The StoreFinder: Stained Glass Store Front
Nancy's Beginner Tips and Tricks
Splinter Removal Tips
Beaded Unity Candle
Green Tiered Lamp
Project Archive: Lilypads/Lotus Panel
This panel is a Weisser Glass Studio pattern that I am making in conjunction with a copper foil class I am taking there. I expect it will be finished in April 2003.
Tuesday, January 28, 2003: Foil Ahoy
Tonight I signed up for a copper foil stained glass class, Saturday afternoons from early March to early April. I'm too pleased with myself, because I want to eventually make pretty lamps, and pretty lamps are built in foil, not lead, so there you go.
The class is not at The Art League in Alexandria, where I took my lead class, but instead at Weisser Glass Studio in Kensington. I suspect I'll miss Jimmy's style---he told us early on in the lead class that all the glass stores in the area know him as the guy who lets his beginning students do any project they want---still, the people at Weisser have been knowledgeable and helpful every time I've visited and I'm sure they'll give an excellent class. Even if I do have to choose from a pre-approved selection of panels to build.
For those of you in the area who have said to me, "Oh, your glass looks like so much fun, I'd like to try that sometime"---now's your chance. You will need as a prerequisite to the Weisser foil class some glass cutting experience, but if you are a friend you could probably sweet-talk (or bribe?) me into showing you how to make a glass cutter go. Don't think about it too long, though... class enrollment is limited to eight. More info about the class is here (ignore the part about the class not being currently offered).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tuesday, March 25, 2003: Ouch, Part II in a Series
So yes. The hole I ground nearly through my fingernail.
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.
Tuesday, April 01, 2003: Sparklybug
The compulsion to somehow make Weisser's lilypads/lotus flower pattern my own did not go away. So I made the lotus flower a little flying friend.
The dragonfly is made of copper wire, copper mesh, and glass beads in greens and ambers. Sheer optimism leads me to believe that I can find a way to securely fasten it to the face of the lilypads panel. It's that or hurt myself with the soldering iron, trying.
Also, I almost forgot: remember Bob Ross? "Little happy trees" (doubtless the happiness was the direct result of a contact high)? It is my solemn duty to tell you that BOB ROSS LIVES. Specifically, at Michael's crafts stores.
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