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Stained Glass night lights - Nov 2020

Several years ago, I tried making a Locomotive stained glass night light for my grandson. I bought a switch fixture from Anythingin Stained Glass, which has  a hook to hang the stained glass piece. Below are the photos I took from this project.  The lighted photo is the Locomotive in my LED light box, not hanging on the night lite fixture.

Night Light hanger did not work on Locomotive

I did not take any photos, but I was not happy with the way the night light bulb lighted the Locomotive.  I ended up making it as a sun catcher to hang in the window, not as a night light.  This bad experience caused me to quit trying to make stained glass night lights.

New Challenge

A non-profit group asked me to design/build and donate some hand-crafted items for them to sell and raise money. The people in the town where the non-profit will be selling the items really like Bluebirds, so I am going to try to make some Bluebird night lights. The challenge will be figuring out how to get a good night light set-up.

Buying night-light fixtures has two different types of fixtures. One has a wire hanger to hang the time, the other has a brass bar you can solder the stained glass panel to.  I ordered a few of each to try out.

Sketchup Design

One of the issues I remember when I tried the Locomotive with the hanging night light, was the light from the bulb "escaped" on both sides of the stained glass and did not evenly light the locomotive.  I might try adding a 3/4" strip of brass to the back of the bluebird, painted white on the inside, that directs the side light into the stained glass panel. The next question is how thick should the brass strip be?   I checked and I had used some 0.012 inch thick brass on a stained glass clock panel a few years ago, and it is bendable. I went to McMaster-Carr's web site and bought some strips.  These strips are 0.016 thick, which is the closest I could get to 0.012 inch I used on the previous project.

LED bulbs

Since I am going to remove some of the ventilation from the 4 watt incandescent bulb, I wanted to reduce the heat by using LED bulbs. My local Ace Hardware sells both 4 and 7 watt LED night light bulbs, so I got some 7 watt to try out.

Night Light fixture in Sketchup

So I could see some design options, I measured and drew up the hanging style night light fixture that I bought.  I put the model into the Sketchup Warehouse and you can download it using this link.

Design Concept #1 with 3/4" wide strip of brass behind bluebird panel

Design Concept #2 with bulb more contained 

The hook can be bent to just about any position, so it should be ok.

Surround light design option

The light could be completely surrounded by making the brass strip wider, then add a sheet onto the back, the stained glass box would be lowered down onto the night light.

1st little bluebird panel done

It took me less than 2 hours to make this.  I will probably apply black patina also, which is not included.

1st lighting tests

I decided to mount the bluebird to the brass ring that bolts and clamps onto the plastic light fixture.

I tried the 7 watt LED bulb first, then the standard 4 watt incandescent bulb next.  I think the 4 watt bulb looks better in a dark room, because there is less light escaping around the bluebird.

I went ahead and applied black patina to the bluebird.

Pebeo Porcelain Paint for black eye on bluebird

A few years ago, I bought the wrong kind of Pebeo paint, the Vitreous one.  It's colors are not solid and are very faint.........I then bought the Porcelain kind, and it worked great on another project.

You are supposed to bake it at 325F for 40 minutes, but my earlier testing said you can get the paint to set at 120F.

Brass strip tests

I went ahead and cut a 3/4" wide piece of brass sheet that I had in stock.   I formed it around a piece of 2x4 wood and tack nailed it in place.  This got the right shape.  I then soldered it to the Bluebird.  I then tried the 4 watt incandescent and the 7 watt LED bulbs.

The brass strip behind the bluebird does a better job of lighting the bluebird and less white light escapes around the panel.............but when making many of these items.......the extra labor is not worth the improvement.  I need to make 10+ of these, so I will not be using the brass strip for all of these.

The 4 watt incandescent bulb works fine, so need to buy 4 or 7 watt LED bulbs.  In fact, the 7 watt LED creates too much excess white light for a nightlight.

7 Watt LED Bulb with Brass strip

Fixture to simplify soldering brass ring to Bluebirds

I am waiting for 10 of the brass rings and night lights to finish up this project.

When they arrive, I would like a quick and easy way to locate and hold the brass rings on the right location on the bluebird panels.

I made up this fixture to try out.  I can clamp the small piece to  hold the brass piece, or remove the swinging part and just plastic clamp it, whatever works best.

Painting and baking black eyes on 10 Bluebirds

I put all 10 on a pizza pan, that I will put in my oven and bake for 40 minutes at 350F per the paint bottle instructions.


It turned out to be a bad plan to bake the soldered bluebirds in the oven..........because all the solder flowed to the back side of the panel !!!!!!!        Since the back of the nightlight is not seen, it did not hurt anything........except I had to resolder the fronts.   Apparently my oven temp control is not that great, and it generated enough heat to melt the solder !

Little nuts and bolts assembly

I used a small piece of blue masking tape to hold the nut, while I turned the bolt using a small Philips screwdriver.  This method worked pretty good.

10 Finished Bluebird Nightlights

Closing Thoughts on This Project

This was an interesting project because I like to run experiments and find the optimal design/process to make something.  For the Bluebirds, it turned out the best choice for batch production of 10+ Bluebird nightlights, a plain 4 watt incandescent bulb worked best with no additional brass strip behind the panel to direct the light.

The fixture I came up for soldering on the brass brackets worked really great !!

I also learned a lesson, if using Pebeo paint, bake the piece of glass with the Pebeo paint in the oven by not bake the soldered whole piece because the solder will melt and flow to the back side of the panel !