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Clam Shell Stained Glass

I always wanted to try stained glass as a hobby.  I checked and the nearest classes were 70 miles away.  A little while ago, I found that stained glass class was being offered through my local junior college, only 35 miles away.  I signed up for this class.  It is 5 nights, 7:30 to 10pm.




Class #1

We were given a choice of 3 patterns to select to make our class project. I chose the "clam shell" pattern.



The instructor chose these 3 patterns because if you can make any of them, it teaches you how to cut all the shapes required in all stained glass projects.

We cut clear window glass our 1st night.  Our homework assignment was to cut our pattern from clear glass.


I broke about 3 pieces at home, that I had to cut a 2nd time.  Circles are the hardest pieces to cut, and most of the interior pieces on this pattern are circular.

Our other homework assignment was to pick out the real colored glass we wanted to use for our project, and bring it to the next class.

I keep an inventory of Kokomo stained glass, so I decided to pick colors that I had in stock already.  I went with blue for the sky above, brown for the clam shell, green for the sea water, and a little red for pizzaz.

Google sketchup will let you enter custom colors. I took digital photos of my glass, then made a .JPG file for each color to use in Sketchup...........



Class #2

I cut all of my pieces from the glass I took to class. I only broke one piece that I had to re-cut.  We cut out the paper pieces with special scissors that leave a gap between the pieces for the copper foil.  We used a special white marker to trace around each piece. Then we cut to the white lines. We mounted the pieces on the paper pattern taped to piece of board.  We temporarily applied masking tape on top of the glass for transport back and forth from home to class. It took about 3 hours to cut the 13 pieces needed for my project.


Class #3

We used the grinder to get all the pieces to final shape. I tended to cut my pieces over-size, so I had to spend a lot of time grinding.  Then we hand wrapped each piece in 1/4" wide copper foil/tape.

The little grinder really works easy and quickly.  I took each piece and put the paper pattern for it back on top of it, then white marked areas outside the pattern that needed grinding.

The nails are actually pony horse-shoe nails. They are rectangular and help keep the pieces in place until soldering.

It is a pain to pull out more copper foil from the plastic bag held down with 2 horse-shoe nails.



Class #4 Soldering
When you solder your pieces together, do not solder the last 1/2" on the outside joints so the zinc came will fit over the edges later (you solder the last 1/2" then and solder it to the came.



When you are done soldering, you squirt on some flux remover detergent and wash in the sink with water.

Finished Project Class #5 (Solder of Zinc frame, 2 rings, and patina)
 Solder the glass assembly to the came applying flux with a Qtip instead of a flux brush to minimize the amount of flux. Apply flux remover and wash in water.

Rub all of the solder on both sides with a piece of steel wool. Blow off all the steel wool particles. Don't get patina on your fingers, if you do, wash it off quickly or your fingers will turn orange for days. Do not apply patina to the zinc frame.

Use a piece of cardboard to hold the ring the right height to solder. You may have to use a nail to apply pressure to the ring against the came. Solder in place.  Rings should not be used if project is more than 12x12 inches because eventually the solder fails due to the weight.  You can make the rings by coiling copper wire on a pencil, then use a Dremel wheel to cut along the pencil and net rings. Flux and solder the rings before you apply them to your project.

In the Sunlight

The real test is how nice the stained glass looks in sunlight.......


She looks pretty good

Concluding Thoughts

I had a couple of small spots where the foil was missing, so no solder would stick and you get a hole in the solder bead.  You should check each piece after you assemble all of them, and check for missing foil.  Re-foil if this occurs.

I have a book on stained glass that says you should flip the grousing plyers depending on the function (breaking glass or grousing). The instructor says the curved part of the plyers should be done regardless of function.

When you solder the glass assembly to the zinc came, only apply a little flux using a Qtip versus using a solder brush. I think you are supposed to take the project to the sink and squirt flux cleaner on and wash after you finish soldering the zinc came. I forgot this step, but it didn't seem to make any difference to the final color coating process (patina).

For the zinc method, the trick is to learn to cut and grind the glass. The soldering part is easy, except for getting a consistent mound type bead. Seedy glass is the clear glass with what looks like tiny seeds in it. Often used in cabinet door frames. Also makes interesting addition to a small project.

The dark patina makes a miraculous change in the appearance of your project. To the viewer, the eyes shift from the appearance of the bright solder to more focus on the glass versus the solder. The project looks much better after applying patina.




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