Monday, March 18, 2013

Glasslink Leaded Glass Class...Conclusion

      I've discovered that I am in love with taking classes where I get to learn new things about stained glass. I've recently taken classes in copper foiling and creative soldering. I don't know if it's the one-on-one instruction, messing up someone else's studio space instead of my own, or if it's the act of being the student rather than the teacher for a while that I appreciate so much about these classes.  What I do know is that I found my recent lessons at Glasslink in Fort Wayne a much needed memory-jogger in the realm of leaded stained glass.  
Picking up where I left off, with a new design plan.
       My latest class was taken in hopes of recalling what I learned about the technique of leaded glass many years ago in college. As it turns out...I remember almost nothing from my first stained glass course, which is not surprising considering I can barely remember what I did last week.  So taking the Glasslink Leaded Glass class was like learning how to lead glass for the very first time!
My glass pieces, cut out during the previous session, are being held together with
custom cut lengths of lead 'H' came.
      This class was 3 3-hour sessions. During the first session I selected my design pattern, chose my color scheme and glass, and began the process of cutting out the pieces.  You can see those steps here. At the end of the first session I had made great progress, but left with a feeling of dissatisfaction with my final design.  At home, I printed out the photo I had taken of my pattern, used my trusty colored pencils, and came up with a color design I liked better.  You can see that sketch in the top photo.
Leaded glass is very different from the copper foiling method which I am used to.  There are a few more tools required, including a wooden work surface, hammer and nails, lead cutters, a lead stretcher, and a glass grinder for those pesky pieces that just won't fit.
       After re-cutting about 3/4 of my glass pieces to reflect my new design, I was ready to begin re-learning how to connect all these pieces using lead came rather than copper foil.  
Each piece of glass must be surrounded on all sides with individual pieces of lead came.  The trick to this is getting everything to stay in place as you build in more glass pieces.  The horseshoe nails, hammer, and wooden work surface help with this.
      Once Danielle, our teacher, got me started I began to remember the basics of cutting the lead and using horseshoe nails to hold everything together.  My pieces went together swimmingly...until I got to the incredibly beautiful, but horribly textured, glass in the center.  This striated cobalt and aqua glass was so gorgeous I knew it had to be used in my piece...I should have sensed the drama ahead when I heard Danielle chuckle under her breath as I picked it out.  
Almost past the rippled nightmare.
      The challenge with this glass is its varying thickness.  The texture is rippled, making it very interesting and beautiful, but also very thick in some places and very thin in others.  Cutting this glass was no picnic, but getting it to fit into the 'H' channel of the lead came was nearly impossible at times. I was able to use a tool called a fid, and a bit of elbow grease, to widen the channel of the H came when needed.  
Everything fits!  
      Finally, all the pieces are built in, fitting together nicely, and ready for soldering.  At this point in the leaded glass method, the stained glass panel is about 90% of the way done. If I were using the copper foil method I would still have quite a bit of work ahead of me.  Leaded glass compositions require very little soldering, while copper foiling is all about the solder!  After putting the last two strips of came on the outer edges, spot-soldering each lead intersection, then again on the backside, and adding two rings for hanging...this panel is D.O.N.E.
After a quick wash, here is my finished project.
      The only decision left to make is whether to leave the lead lines silver or patina them black. In the room, I like the way the bright silver dramatically defines the deep colors of the glass.  In the window, I think I would like the strips to be black to define the bright, bold colors as they are lit up by the outside light...I am still deciding.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Leaded Glass Class at Glasslink, Fort Wayne

I have added another stained glass piece to my repertoire! 
My latest creation was made during the Introduction to Leaded Glass class given at Glasslink in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Glasslink is an art glass studio, supply retailer and education center specializing in Stained Glass, Fusing, Mosaics, Lampworked Beads, Dichroic Jewelry and Precious Metal Clay.
      I recently completed a leaded glass class at Glasslink in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This is not my first time taking a class at Glasslink.  In the fall I took part in the Creative Soldering class.  You can see how I used what I learned in that class here. I enjoyed that class so much, I knew I would return for more!  
Our pattern choices for learning the art of creating a stained glass panel using a
traditional leading technique.
I chose this pattern for it's Art Deco characteristics, one of my favorite styles!
      My usual way of creating stained glass artwork is the "copper foil" method.  In this method, I cut the glass pieces then wrap a thin strip of copper tape around the edges. I then apply solder which fuses to the copper edging, connecting the glass parts together. You can get a better idea of this process here, here, and here.
This daffodil panel was created using the copper foil method.
      When I began my study of art glass waaaaay back in college, I first learned the most traditional method of making stained glass, leading.  In this technique, the glass parts are connected by being locked together with channeled metal strips called "came."  
Lead came comes in many different sizes and shapes.
These are called "H" came...can you see why?
      I really wanted to incorporate the leaded glass technique into my Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellowship stained glass project, but I was not comfortable relying on my memory of one college class nearly 20 years ago.  I knew I needed to take a refresher course...and it's a good thing I did!  I never would have been able to pull off a leaded glass panel without the help of the Glasslink class.  
After MUCH deliberation, I decided that I would incorporate these sheets of glass into my new stained glass piece. Glasslink has so many different colors, textures, and qualities of glass, choosing these was truly the hardest part of the project!
      After choosing my pattern and my glass (neither one an easy task for the decision-making challenged), I set to work cutting the pieces. A surprising new twist...I learned to cut my pieces without the use of any paper pattern pieces! 
It's coming together...
      Danielle, my teacher, suggested I place my whole pattern sheet with the glass on top, on this giant light table and use a ruler and a cutter to just follow the lines I could see through the glass...whaaat?! No tracing and cutting tiny little paper pieces? No tracing them again on glass, cutting them out to be a little off-size, then grinding the pieces to the right size after all that work? (Note to self...ask that generous, dedicated, devoted, wonderful husband of mine to build me a light table!)
At the end of the first class I had all the pieces cut out and in place.  But there's just something about the arrangement of the colors that isn't quite right.  I'm not happy with this design just yet.
      By the end of the first 3-hour class, I had cut out all my pieces of glass.  If I were doing this at home, I would have started by getting out my trusty colored pencil set that I've had since high school, and colored a sketch of my design to decide on my exact color arrangement.  I couldn't do that here, so I tried to mentally visualize my design...and didn't do a very good job.  I wasn't quite happy with my design once it was all in place. It was a good thing class was over...I had some thinking to do.
Come back soon to see my re-design...