Glassline Paper - First Experiment

I’ve found that there isn’t much info out there about people’s experiences with Glassline products, so I’ll start documenting my attempts - please feel free to leave comments with your notes or questions and maybe we can start a discussion. I have used the paper once, and here are my results.

To try it out, I ordered one of the assorted packs - I think it was about $40 for a pack of 15 5” square sheets. This included 5 colors with 3 different textures each.

Glassline Paper - Full Fuse

The Glassline paper product brochure is here. I followed the instructions - I kept the edge of the paper 1/4” away from the edge of the glass, I used a tiny dot of Elmer’s glue to keep the paper in place, and used bits of stringer to separate the bottom and top pieces of glass.


To the right is my little sample pre-fuse. It’s really tiny - roughly about 1”x2”. I didn’t want to waste the paper or the glass if it didn’t turn out!

The bits of blue stringer are sandwiched between the glass, I could have also used clear and it wouldn’t show up in the final piece.


And the final result! The colors really deepened, and the texture is still apparent (though that’s not as obvious in this picture of a tiny sample). The paper did appear to shrink a bit - most obvious in the skinny jellyfish legs. I’m not sure if the bigger pieces didn’t shrink or if it’s just not as obvious.


I love the idea of using this paper to add detail to future pieces, and I’ll definitely be experimenting with it more! I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Bullseye Striker Glass - Orange 1125

“OMG, they forgot my orange transparent glass, and I wanted to make rainbows and now there is no orange…” was what I thought when I was organizing the giant box of sheet glass I ordered from Bullseye recently - at first glance there appeared to be two yellows and no orange.

But of course there was no mistake - one of the two yellow looking sheets was indeed marked with the “1125” code for the orange glass, which upon looking closer is marked as a “striker” and promised to fuse to a deep orange. Here are my results!

Preparing rainbow to fire

Below is the picture pre-fire - the second strip from the top is the Orange 1125. Each of these strips is 5/8” tall. I capped the whole thing with a piece of 3mm clear Tekta.


Rainbow Post-Firing

And here is the result after firing! This is after a full-fuse. As you can see, it isn’t just the orange that came out more brilliant in color, all the colors are brighter! I would like to find another purple to use, but other than that, I love how this rainbow turned out! I’m planning to embellish it a little and then slump it on a wave mold.


One last pic to really show the contrast - Orange 1125 sheet glass on the left, full-fused rainbow on the right. The 1125 is the second color down in the rainbow.


Glassline Paints - First Experiments and Results

I wanted a way to create more detail in my fused glass pieces using paints. I’ve done a little painting after firing, using some glass paints I bought at Michael’s years ago, but I know those aren’t food-safe, plus they might not last as long as fused paints.


I ordered a set of 6 Glassline paints, including tips (since that way you get 6 paints for the price of 5), but I think I should have just picked 5 colors as the selection in the set is limited and repetitive, I ended up buying more colors anyway.

The set came with Amethyst and Lavender, which are super close in shade, two shades of blue (teal and carbon blue), and Camel. Seriously, Camel? I would have much rather had a standard yellow. I ended up buying a Black, Yellow, and Deep Red separately anyway.

Moving on. Not Glassline’s fault I didn’t really think about which colors I would want to have. Doing some googling, there is not a ton of information out there about how the Glassline colors react to fusing, so I did my own experiment. I used a bit of each color on a couple different shades of scrap glass and threw those pieces in during a full fuse session.

Glassline Paints - Full Fuse Experiment


Looking online and at the Glassline product materials, the consensus was to paint a design, let dry, and bring to a full fuse. I painted on some designs (Carbon Blue in this sample), on a scrap piece of Bullseye Tekta clear glass, and sprinkled on some frit to see how it reacted. The above picture is pre-fuse, here are the results after fusing:


So Carbon Blue darkens upon firing, and will show through the frit. I also wanted to see all the colors, and how they showed up on different color glass. The below picture are my pre-firing scribbles, colors are the ones listed above. Paint is still wet in this pic, but I let it dry before firing (which only takes about an hour). For the star in the lower right, I capped the star with a second piece of Tekta clear to see if the result was any different from the uncapped glass.


Here are the results after firing (full fuse). Looks like I didn’t take a photo of the grey piece, and the capped star didn’t look any different than the uncapped Carbon Blue. One observation on the darker glass colors is that the edges of the paint seem to look a little fuzzy after firing - maybe if I capped them it would look different?

The AMETHYST and LAVENDER are really similar - on the left, i wrote ‘laura’ in lavendar and ‘amy’ in amethyst…

The AMETHYST and LAVENDER are really similar - on the left, i wrote ‘laura’ in lavendar and ‘amy’ in amethyst…

Glassline Paints - Tack Fuse Experiment

Next up, I decided to paint before tack fusing. I want to be able to paint little accents on pieces, and I’d rather not full-fuse little painted pieces before tack-fusing them together (not only does it take more time, but they’d lose their shape in the extra full fuse step), so I thought I’d give it a shot. Here are the results:

First up, I tried making some little flowers and painted accents onto the petals. Left is pre-fuse, right is post-fuse. The hibiscus below didn’t really turn out, but it shows the paint - this is the Glassline Yellow and Deep Red paints. They both dry in really muted versions of the shades, but the color pops after firing. I think I used too much paint though, which led to cracking during the firing step


Later, I used Glassline green and camel (I found a use for the camel, hooray!) to paint accents on my palm tree below. I think these paints are going to work out great for making my pieces more detailed, and I’ll definitely be experimenting with them more! I also bought a sample pack of the Glassline paper - a first try is going in the kiln tonight so I’ll post about how that works out another time.


One final note - be sure to clean the tiny tips after each use. Especially the smallest one, which is the one I have used most - if you let the paint dry it is REALLY hard to clean later! Use the little pins, and I’ve also found that it helps to store the tips with the pins inside to keep the holes clog-free.

Woven glass plate - tutorial

I’ve been interested for a while in creating a woven glass plate - look on Pinterest for that phrase, and there are tons of beautiful examples. Plus it just seems counter-intuitive at first - to create a woven plate out of glass, so I wanted to make one.

Woven Plate Supplies

You’ll need the following items to create one of these plates:

  • Weave Mold - This is the one I used, but there are other options too. You can buy a package of bars to place yourself to give you more options - I liked that I couldn’t go wrong with spacing using the mold.

  • Square Plate Slump Mold

  • Glass! I use Bullesye COE 90 glass for everything. I also used Bullseye stringers, but that’s optional.

Woven Plate - Steps

Step 1 - Choosing your glass

The crucial first step is to plan your project - what colors do you want to use? How big should the end result be? Do you have the right glass onhand to achieve the result you want? I used three colors with an accent stringer in this example, but you could get a great result with more or fewer colors too. This step can sometimes take me the longest, and I can spend a lot of time sorting through glass colors to decide what looks best together. For this example, I ended up picking a dark blue, teal green, and cream - all opaque. The red-orange stringer was a last-minute addition that I’m super glad I made, as it made all the difference in the finished plate, which you’ll see at the end.

Step 2 - Glass Cutting

When researching this project, I was also working my way through the tutorial videos on the Bullseye site - for just $45 per year, you get access to a ton of informative videos, which I have found to be helpful and inspiring. One of these videos mentioned that glass ‘wants to’ break in half - so if you have a bunch of thin pieces to cut, it’s best to cut the larger piece in half, then half again, half again, etc, rather than trying to ‘chip off’ each piece from the larger whole.

I took that advice, and the cutting for this project went very smoothly! I decided that my plate would be 11 strips x 11 strips- so I needed 11 cream colored pieces, 6 dark blue, and 5 teal. Everything was 1/2” wide. I decided to have the extra piece be dark blue instead of teal so the darker color would anchor the plate on either end. I used the normal score/snap method for cutting. A few pieces broke, but I had enough extra glass that it didn’t matter.

Step 3 - Prep weaving mold and make ziggy pieces


We just need to make the ‘ziggy pieces’ now - the strips that will be turned 90 degrees will be inserted straight (no firing) before the tack fuse. You’ll see.

To make the zigs, I laid alternating blue and teal strips on the mold. The picture is after firing, as I neglected to take one beforehand. I found that the edges shrink inward (using one thickness of 3 mm glass) during firing, so you can place the strips quite close together and not have them fuse together. (I first planned for 13 pieces and fired that many, but quickly discovered that was too many for this size plate.)

For this mold, I used the following firing schedule (my schedules are all in degrees Fahrenheit, and the order is Ramp/Temperature/Hold Time in minutes):






I think that when I make another of these, I will increase the temperature and/or time in Step 2 - I found that the strips didn’t quite dip all the way into the concave parts of the mold. They were also a little stuck to the mold - I was able to loosen them, but should look into why this happened to avoid it for next time. (one of the many advantages of this blog, to record in one place what I did and should do differently in the future!) See the pic on the right - you can see the space between the strip and the bottom. It’s not THAT bad, but it was challenging to insert the cream pieces, which I think would be easier if the ziggy pieces were fully conformed to the mold.

After firing, I did a little grinding of the zigs where there were weird burrs, and on the ends. I think that the higher temp or longer time at the high temperature would give a more even result though.

Every kiln has different results, so please don’t assume yours will produce the same result as mine - the fusing schedule above might be a good starting point, but you’ll want to experiment and adjust accordingly.

Step 4: Preparing to Tack Fuse the Weave


OK, now you’ve created the woven pieces for one direction - for the other direction, it’s much easier. First, decide which half of the ‘zigs’ you’ll turn upside down, and do so, alternating pieces. I turned the teal pieces upside down from how they’d been fired.

You’ll then thread in the ‘zags’ (for me, the cream). Probably because my zigs didn’t fully sink into the crevices of the weave mold, I found this to be a little difficult, and I had to strategically order the zigs and zags so I could thread in all the zags.

But it all worked out in the end, and looking at the piece pre-fusing, I could see that I was missing something, color wise - that’s when I grabbed my 1 mm stringer assortment to look for a good accent color and pulled out the orange. Every other strip having an accent looked right to me, so that’s what I went with.


Step 4: Tack fusing

For the tack fuse, I used the following schedule:






This worked well for my kiln, and I’d do this again.

Step 6: Slump


So what’s the point of all of this if you don’t create a useful item or nice piece of art, right? My last step was to slump the woven piece into a square plate mold, using the following fusing schedule:




Like the tack fuse step, I was happy with these results (again, for my kiln, yours may be different) and would use the same firing schedule next time. This was a fun project, and the resulting plate can be used as a fruit plate, or I can also imagine it with slices of crusty bread on a dinner table. Or for use as an appetizer plate or a ‘key dish’ for an entryway - lots of great options.

Tack fusing silhouette project

I haven’t posted in a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been playing with glass! I completed this project over the summer, and started this post months ago - finally finished it up. I’ve added some new pictures to the Gallery page, and am planning some more posts soon with more project descriptions - stay tuned!

I'd gotten comfortable with the pendant projects and wanted to try something different.  I enjoy making the pendants - they're small, you can make a bunch at one time quickly, and it's great to open the kiln and find it full of pretty shiny things - and sometimes people even want to buy them!

But I chose the bigger kiln to make larger, creative projects, and have just been stuck on what to make, plus the fear of spending a lot of time on a big project only to have it not turn out in the end.  

Luckily there are a ton of youtube videos out there for inspiration and ideas, and this one gave me an idea for a quick beginner project to try a tack-fused small panel:

I liked the idea of a silhouette of tree branches and birds, so I created my design: 


This picture was taken after I cut and ground the glass. The lovebirds I cut on the Taurus Ring Saw, but the rest I cut by hand and ground on my Gryphette grinder. This piece is three layers - a rectangle of black, the red sky bits, and then the lovebirds. I thought about adding more details, but I just wanted to see how this piece tack fused together without spending a lot of time on it - didn’t want to waste my time if it turned out poorly in the end!

I used the following fusing schedule for this piece (as an aside, I would love to make this a table, but can’t figure out how to do that…any advice, please leave in comments!):





It came out great! I was really happy with the result and can’t wait to try more ideas!


This is a great beginner project, especially since it’s only one firing to get a great result! I only wish I’d fused in some hooks for hanging, so I suppose I’ll glue a hook to the back to allow for hanging. Overall, this was a fun, fast, and rewarding project. And it has a nice 3D look to it, which I’m looking to duplicate in future projects too.

Puddle Melting


I've just completed four firings in 3 days, and two of those firings were to create some awesome puddle melt pendants.  Every time a firing is finished, I'm stoked to open up the kiln, but this last run was especially cool because I really didn't know what I'd find.


Step 1:  Making the Puddles


First step was to make the puddles that would later be broken up to make the pendants (and other things - I have reserve puddle chunks for another day!).  I stacked up 6 3"x3" squares of glass, and put them in the kiln.  I made two piles, one with blues/green/white/grey, and another with pinks/purples/white.  I put them in the kiln on top of some shelf paper, and left plenty of room around them so they could spread out.  


When the glass is fired, it spreads out - the photo above shows the bottom of the resulting puddle - each layer flowed over the edge of the one below.  Size of the final puddle was about 5"x5" and 7/16" thick in the middle.  I used a full fuse firing schedule, holding at 1500F for 30 minutes.  This fire took about 6 hours.

Step 2:  Puddle Smash


To turn the puddles into usable chunks, they need broken up.  I tried score-and-snap, but it was way too thick for that.  I read people had luck scoring and hitting with a hammer, but for me that didn't break nicely and just shattered the puddle into 8-10 pieces.  That was fine though since it gave chunks I could start working with - but wouldn't be optimal if I was trying to get a lot of nice slices. 


I also ran the pink square thru the Taurus ring-saw, and the saw cut it like a champ.  But I don't want to use up my blade on these, so I probably won't try that again.  We do have a tile saw so I think I'll give that a go on some of the leftover puddle chunks.  

Anyways.  Use a hammer to break, or then I found that my mosaic tile-nippers worked well to break off the pieces for the pendants.  Whatever you do, wear your safety glasses!

I made a bunch of smallish pieces to fire as pendants.  It was hard to tell from the chunks how big the pendants would be so I weighed them as I broke them off - tried to aim for 6-15 grams in weight to get a variety of sizes.  I think I broke up about half of each puddle and I have other plans for the rest.


Step 3:  Second Firing


I put shelf paper on the bottom of the kiln, and on top of that, placed the chunks up on end (so the stripes are visible from above, and fired again to a full fuse.  I wasn't sure how close to place them to each other so I left some space around them. 

Over on the left-hand side, I tried some other ideas with pieces of sheet glass topped off with dots or some of the skinny shards that came off the puddles when I was smashing them up.


I read on someone's page that it would be better to use shelf primer instead of paper since they'd round better - but I wanted to make max use of my kiln space and just put paper directly on the kiln floor (my shelf is a smaller area so I could only have made about 2/3 of this number).  And I like the irregular shapes!


The above 2 pictures were taken before pulling these out of the kiln so I can see how the different pieces melted - it was about like you'd expect, if the piece was on an angle then the top color is the primary one in the final pendant.  I might add decals to the ones that are more solid colored than the others.


This was a fun project and I'm really happy with the results!  A couple of links that I referenced for making these are below:

And of course the possibilities are endless here - these will be necklaces or I think I'll try turning a couple of the smaller ones into pairs of earrings.  You could also use them in mosaics, stained glass, etc.  And I plan to make some more even slices out of the rest of my puddles to use in a plate project.

Taurus Ring Saw Review


After cutting glass by hand using the score and snap method for 6 years, I finally purchased a Taurus 3 Diamond Ring Saw.  I absolutely love it!  Obviously, it is now much faster to complete projects, but I also love that I can cut more complex shapes than ever before.


The saw came with a very entertaining get-started video, and it has many features I haven't tried yet.  I've only used it in the standard configuration to cut single sheets of glass and haven't tried it as a hand saw or purchased any of the special blades yet.  To the left is my very first cut, made from one of the sample patterns at the back of the instruction book.

I'm really loving it as I am getting into fusing now, I must have cut out 3 or 4 dozen pendant shapes in short order over the past two weeks.  It's especially great for cutting circles - it would have taken me forever to score/snap all those circles but it was a breeze cutting them out w/my new saw.

It is very wet to work with, and the glass definitely takes a bath. I'm used to marking where to cut with either a Sharpie or by glue-sticking the pattern to the glass, but both of those can come off while cutting if you're not quick and careful.  I've found that if I let the Sharpie ink dry for ~60 seconds it's more likely to stay on long enough for me to get my piece cut, but not always.

You can also use the saw as a grinder to grind away the rough edges, but I'm not doing that.  The blades are expensive, so to save mine I'm still using my normal grinder after I get the rough outline cut w/the saw.  And I do still score/snap for straight lines and simple cuts.  

First Fused Glass Projects

I learned to make stained glass by taking a class, but I'm figuring out the basics of fusing glass on my own with books and websites.  I'd like to take a class at some point, but for now I think there's enough info out there to pick up the basics.

Project 1:  Square Pendants

After getting the kiln and new controller board all hooked up, I thought I'd start with something simple to make sure everything worked.  I have a "offset square pendant mold" that I got as a birthday present, and had bought 5 colors of frit to try.  I had bought fine frit almost at random for the colors and also had gotten a jar of medium clear frit.  I guess I didn't read up ahead of time to see that the firing schedules for the different grits are different, and so I'm assuming they shouldn't be mixed in the same piece?  Something to look into...


I followed the mold instructions, and applied 4 coats of Primo Primer, drying it with a hairdryer between each coat.  I definitely mixed up too much primer, so will use less next time (can you save it once it's mixed??).  This must have worked, because after firing, one of the pendants came right out, the second came out when I turned it upside down, and the last just needed a nudge from my fingernail to pop out.  


I had a few colors of frit, and wanted to try all of them to see their fired colors - Kevin made the blue striped pendant and I made the other two.  We finished up the mold prep and pouring in the frit around 7pm on a Sunday evening.  We were feeling paranoid about leaving the kiln on its own in the basement, so one of us sat with it for the first couple of hours.  When it became clear that it wasn't going to spontaneously combust, and that the temperature around the kiln wasn't getting very high, we progressed to hourly check-ins (I started napping on the couch in between!).  Max temperature for this fire was 1420F, and I found that the hottest the surface of the kiln got was around 320F.


I waited until the next morning to open her up, here is what I found!  This was basically the easiest project that could be done - pour frit in mold, turn on kiln - but it was still really fun to open up the kiln and find pretty pendants.  Will try some more exciting designs next time!


After I popped them out of the mold, they did need a little sanding to remove some rough edges, then I strung them on lanyards and have worn two of them.  Will be fun to try this mold again with some different colors and designs.


Project 2:  Coasters

For second project, I wanted something more creative, so I made four different 3" square coasters.  I tried a few different ideas just to see how they looked after.  


Glass wants to be about 1/4" thick, and my sheet glass is closer to 1/8".  If I'd made my coasters one layer thick, then the glass would pull in and "shrink" to make the a thicker piece.  I wanted this to stay truer to size, so for the sailboat coaster, I cut two blue squares and then put the decoration pieces on top.  The bottom square is slightly smaller than the top, so the glass will flow over the sides and make a nice rounded edge.


The only other one that was 2 pieces thick all the way around is the transparent green/yellow/blue wavy lines - the lines are all cut and put on top of a clear square.  The hearts were just put on one square of white (should have used 2 since the edges did indeed pull in), and then the vertical stripes were also placed on a single white square.  These are mostly cut glass, with some stringers and then the inner part of the dark blue heart is frit.  I did use Bullsye glasstac to hold the pieces in place for transfer to the kiln and then for firing.


Final results above!  I'm happy with how they came out and that I got to see how the different glass and ideas looked after firing, but I'd make a few changes next time.  

1.  I'd make everything at least 2 layers thick.

2. The wavy lines one - the lines are a little separated if you look closely.  After making it, I learned I should have had the clear glass as the top layer to have everything flow together.

3.  There is still some sharpie residue from where I outlined the pieces to cut :(  Thought I did a good job cleaning the glass but will try harder next time.

4. Vertical lines one - A tip from the woman that runs the glass shop I go to - since I wanted more separation between them, I could have put clear frit in between the lines to give more separation.

I think that's it!  Oh, and for these I used a full fuse schedule and it is indeed a full fuse - the sailboat is at the same level as the blue glass post-fire!

Getting Started in Glass Fusing

For a while now, I've been wanting to try out warm glass - fusing, slumping, jewelry making, etc.  I'd also like to try metal clay, enameling, and flameworking too at some point.  But Step 1 for me was to get a kiln and some supplies to get started.

Meet Esmerelda - My Kiln Setup

I've been keeping a lookout for kilns on Craigslist for a while, and last Spring I saw this one listed for $300.  It was the perfect size, and the owner was just selling her to move up to another model.

I named my new kiln Esmerelda.  She's a hexagonal shape, 24" exterior diameter, and 11" exterior height.  She fits right into a good spot in the basement, and is big enough to make all the pendants and plates I want.  She is an older Jen-Ken kiln, maybe from the 80s?  Her last owner bought her a new Paragon DTC 100 controller.  The controller didn't quite do everything I want - it didn't seem to allow for a controlled decrease in temperature, and it doesn't allow for a multi-stage program (so you need to visit the kiln after every firing stage and reprogram for the next one).  The previous owner mostly used her for ceramics, so maybe that controller worked fine for ceramics, but it seemed like it would be hard to make it work for some of the complicated glass firing schedules.


I ended up ordering a new controller board from Bartlett Instrument Company,  and I got the Genesis Model LT3140 for $329.  This is just the board, which we installed into the controller box for the DTC 100.  It fit, but the holes weren't in the exact right spot, so we had to drill 2 new holes for the bottom screws.  The photo to the right shows the box hanging on the wall - the darker grey part is the new controller board.  




Kiln all setup and ready to fire.

Kiln all setup and ready to fire.

My total cost for the kiln and controller board was $629, and it looks like a similar new kiln runs about $1000 today, so I'll call that a win.  I have definitely invested that extra savings plus some into other supplies and glass, so it was nice to save where I could.

The kiln fits perfectly in our basement between a brick wall, the furnace, and the hot water heater.  It's placed on some cinderblocks.  During the first firing (which had a max kiln temp of 1420F), we used a laser thermometer to keep track of the temperatures all the way around the kiln and found that the hottest point was the surface of the kiln, which recorded a max temp ~300F.  The bricks, furnace, etc, didn't go up much in temperature.

Additional Fusing Supplies

The kiln is the biggest and most critical item needed, but I've also been getting a bunch of other supplies too.  I decided to go with all COE 90 glass - I read that it's a little harder to work with than COE 96, but since there was more selection in colors, I picked 90.  I don't really want to have to store both types, so I will probably stick exclusively with COE 90.  I bought one of the Bullseye class packs from Delphi (link isn't to the exact one, there are several different mixes), 6 jars of Frit, and some stringer rods - all Bullseye.

I already had all the essentials for glass cutting, but did invest in a new "non-essential" - a Taurus 3 ring saw.  I had been doing the score and snap method, which works fine, but I've been drooling over the idea of a saw for a while so I could make more intricate shapes.  And I'd tried using COE 90 glass in a stained glass panel, and found that it was much harder to work with - I broke a LOT of pieces while scoring/snapping, and so I thought it might be a lot nicer to have a saw.  I'll need to do a whole other post on the saw, but let me just say that it has been GREAT to have !

Kiln Furniture and Molds

My research said that you want to have your work in about the center of the kiln.  I got 3" kiln posts, and a 12" round shelf to place the work on top of.  I also got some fiber paper and Primo Primer for mold prepping.  

I wanted to start out with smaller molds, so my first project uses a square pendant mold - I also have a mold for small square dish, and a couple other pendant molds I haven't tried yet.

Of course, I still have a wish list of stuff to get and try -more frit colors, I'd like to try decals, I need some thicker fiber paper, and of course more molds and glass too.  For now, I just need to focus on trying out some easy projects with what I have but it's really hard to go crazy buying piles of supplies!

Next post, I'll talk about my first two projects in the kiln - #2 is firing as I type and I'm hoping it turns out well!

New Resources Page and Recent Projects

Hi, I know I've been offline for a little while, but I'm back with a couple of updates to the site!  

Resources Page - Essential Supplies for Stained Glass Artists

Check out my new Resources page!!  I made a list of most of the tools and supplies I use with each stained glass project.  I probably have a few more things to add here, but I hit all the major items.  I'll keep it up-to-date, and all the links on that page are to items I use frequently and with which I have personal experience.  

I'll also try to note which tools are ones I consider essential vs nice-to-haves.  I certainly don't want anyone to feel overwhelmed by the amount of Stuff needed to get started, since stained glass already requires more tools than for many other hobbies.   

There are a bunch of tools on my "wish list" that I don't really NEED (or really have the space for either):  a circle cutter, glass saw, an engraving setup, I'd like to try etching or sandblasting... on and on and on!   But the reality is that you can have a pretty good initial setup in place for about $250-300.  Also keep your eye out on Craigslist; I've seen an occasional ad for the whole setup from a person who is getting out of the hobby and selling everything.

Recent Stained Glass Projects

I'm also adding three new photos of finished projects to my Gallery page, one is the colorful geometric piece I finished a few weeks ago, and the other two were commissions for friends.  Next up, I'll be working on another request from a friend; that one is still in design stages and I'm hoping to start on it in the next few days.

This one is hanging up at work right now, along with my small Lemonade panel.  The photo doesn't quite capture the colors, and there are 5 or 6 different textures of clear glass used for the background.  This was a lot of fun to make, and I got to use up some smaller scrap pieces too.


This small panel is for a ballerina of course, and I'll need to do a whole post on this one sometime.  I wanted to use the perfect pink for the slippers, but couldn't find just the right shade in the stained glass section.  I ended up choosing a sheet of Bullseye Fusible COE 90 glass since it was a solid color and the shade I wanted.  I'd been warned that it is harder to work with, and that was no lie.  I'll tell the whole story another time, but it ends happy, and I love how the piece came out.



This was also done for a friend.  She requested a cabin in the woods, with mountains and a purple-blue sky.  I of course hit up Google Image search for pix of cabins that I could turn into a pattern, and this is the finished product.  I really love when people request specific designs since it gives me a chance to create something I wouldn't have thought of on my own!  Again the colors don't look quite right, I'm much happier with them in person.   


So one theme here is that I need to find a better method of taking pictures of my work.  Currently, I am using a lightbox and a point-and-shoot camera - I think my problems come from the LED light in the lightbox - some glass is more opaque than others, so that comes out extra dark on the box, and also the solder lines just look black with the backlighting.

We went to a photo salon at a friend's house a couple of weeks ago, so I had a chance to ask some professionals for advice.  One suggestion I need to try is to hang a white sheet outside and then hang the piece in front of that.  I just need to figure out the logistics of this and then find a nice sunny day to practice.

If you have any other ideas for great photos, please let me know in the comments!

Latest Project In-Progress - Geometric Design


This one will be a short post; it's 9pm Sunday night and I just finished soldering my latest project.  The design was inspired by a postcard I bought once at the Hirshhorn Museum in D.C. (that was a loonggg time ago, I can't even remember when I was there last).  I tend to pick up a lot of postcards of images I like, then they sit in a drawer - I came across the stack recently and pulled this one out to turn into a design for a glass project.  

The artist is Stanton Macdonald-Wright; the painting is called Conception Symphony.  I didn't set out to copy it, but just make something with a similar color scheme and geometric design.  I used a compass, circle stencil, and straight edge to come up with my design.

When I picked colors, I wanted to use up some half- and quarter-sheets of some bright colors I have, so I used lots of different shades.  And for the background, I have lots of clear textured glass, so used different textures in different parts of the background.  Here it is after the foiling step:


Yesterday evening, I started soldering, and got about halfway through the front.  I wanted to finish it up today so I could wash off all the flux.  It's now completely soldered, flux is washed, and next step will be to frame it:


It's important not to let the flux sit on the glass too long since it can stain the glass, and damage any copper foil that is fluxed but not soldered.  I use CJ's flux remover to clean the piece after soldering.  You don't need much, a little bit goes a long way; I put a little puddle on the piece and then use a brush to clean in all the crevices; then rinse it in the sink.

Next time I show a pic of this one, it will be framed!  I'm really happy with how the cheerful colors look!

On hobbies, time, to-do lists, and why I created this site

Today's post will be a little more rambling than the others; I started typing and ended up with the below.

Recently I decided to get a little more serious about my stained glass hobby.  I had started out with the goal of making a transom for myself, and loved making it.  So I made another, then I made a few panels for family... and eventually I was out of people to make gifts for and out of space in my own house.  

I kept working on projects for fun, but was just accumulating a pile of completed panels on my workbench, all wrapped up and hidden from view. 

It started to seem silly to keep making things when they might not see the light of day, so for a while I didn't really make anything at all - but I missed the hobby and so I decided to get back into it and see if I could sell a few pieces.  I'm not looking to make a lot of money - nor do I think it would be possible since stained glass projects take so long to complete, but I think it would be pretty cool if I could find owners for my work and a reason to keep playing with glass.  My ultimate goal would be for the hobby to be self-sustaining -- I have some tools and supplies on my wish list, first up being all the supplies I need to get started in fusing glass.

And that's where I am now.  My workplace allows employees to hang art in our hallways every two months, so I hung four panels in March, and will hopefully have two more ready for May.  Of the four I hung in March, two will have new homes soon - I was happy that two people contacted me about buying a panel!  And I am currently working on a custom panel for a coworker, which I'll be finishing up this week.

current project!

current project!

I wanted to create a website too.  I figured that people could contact me wanting custom work, so I'd need a gallery of pictures showing examples of other work I'd done.  And in my searching, it seemed like the Interwebs weren't exactly overflowing with resources for stained glass artists, so I also wanted to start a blog to add to the community.  My immediate plans for the blog are to talk about my own projects and things I've learned along the way, but I have some other ideas too, so stay tuned!  You'll also get to follow along when I fire up the kiln for the first time, and I'll blog about my learning process when I get started in fusing and slumping.  I promise to post pix of any spectacular failures!  

Right now I'm working on finishing more panels to hang up at work and on finding ways to build an audience for this site.  I started reading blogs about blogging and information about SEO in hopes of getting google to notice this tiny site.  I created a Facebook page, an Instagram, and added some pins to Pinterest and 'promoted' a few of my favorites - and have been getting some traffic from Pinterest as a result.

I have a bunch of other goals too - I'd like to also set up a little Etsy shop and I have a few ideas for products to sell.  I'm also interested in creating some instructional YouTube videos.

In the short term though, I made myself a little to-do list (I love to-do lists!) for the month of April.  I don't think I'm going to get everything done, but I'll try:

  • 6 blog posts (this is #3 - halfway there!)
  • Order Business Cards (sigh.. I am working on this, but I got frustrated with the drawing programs and put this on pause... the design is just not coming out how I pictured it in my head) -- I wanted these by May 1 so I can include them with the deliveries of the panels people bought from me.  
  • 4 panels ready to hang at work in May (This was way too ambitious - I have one done now and will hopefully complete a second - the geometric one in the pic above)
  • Complete custom project for my coworker (this will be done this week)
  • Find two ways to "market" this website - I will count my Pinterest promotions as one of these.
  • Buy supplies to get started in fusing - I think this one is just going to be on hold for a while... we still need to do some rearranging in the basement to give Esmeralda a nice home, and there is a lot of other non-glass stuff on our to-do list too.  That's ok though; I wasn't planning to buy the kiln until the Fall, but went ahead and snapped up a good deal on Craigslist last month.
  • Lastly, I want to figure out a good and repeatable way to etch my name or initials in the corner of each piece.  I was going to try to get this sorted out for the two pieces I'm working on, but I am not ready to try on a real panel yet...  maybe next month.
Here's a section of the ballet slipper panel I'm working on for my coworker - I don't want to share a whole picture until she receives it!

Here's a section of the ballet slipper panel I'm working on for my coworker - I don't want to share a whole picture until she receives it!

I'm also very happy that Spring is here, which means it is time for my very favorite hobby, sailing!  Glass has become more of a winter hobby for me, since the warm-weather months are taken up with sailing.  We have been working on the boat to get it ready to splash soon, and in the meantime, I'm sailing with my local sailing club.  

So, I'll be spending less time on indoor hobbies for a while.  I still have plans to work on some of the projects on my wish lists, they'll just take longer than they normally would.  And I have a bunch of ideas for blog posts, so they will continue to roll out, just maybe more slowly than they will in the colder months.

Glass Grinding Guidelines

This is part of a series of posts about tips I've learned while working on my projects; hopefully they will be helpful to those just starting out.  These lists aren't meant to cover everything, and if you have additional tips, please share in the comments!

Last time, I talked about glass cutting; the next step after all your pieces are cut it the grinding.  This topic should be relevant whether your interest is in stained glass, fused glass, or just in using stained glass sheets in your mosaic projects.  

My Essential Glass Grinding Tools


Of course, the number 1 essential tool here is a grinder.  I'm sure many grinders out there work great, so I'm not suggesting one over another, but the only grinder I've owned is my Gryphon Gryphette grinder, and it is great!  It's small, but I haven't found that it's too small for any of my projects, and it's perfect for my small workspace.

You can buy an optional face shield that will mount over the work area; I don't have it, but I always wear safety glasses.  In fact, I store them as shown in the picture; on top of the grinder - that way I never forget to put them on.  It's super important to wear them, as little shards can fly around, especially for certain textured glass, and especially when you have a new bit.  I like my eyes so I never grind without my safety glasses!

I clean out the water reservoir of my grinder every 4 or 5 projects.  It always amazes me the amount of glass dust that collects in there.


The grinder is the main tool you need, but it needs new bits sometimes.  I use these bits for my grinder, and they last a good long time.  You also need good old H2O to fill the water reservoir (you can see my old Nalgene bottle in the background here.  Our slop sink is in an inconveient spot, so I use it for my water needs while working.  And last, you need little bits of sponge to insert behind the grinder bit to keep everything wet while you're working.

So that's it for the tools; on to the grinding tips:

1.  Order Matters!


My first tip is in the order of the pieces you choose to grind. You're always going to have to do some touching-up to make all of the individual pieces fit together well, but the main pieces of your design will need to have specific shapes in order for the panel to come out the way you want.  So, I always start with the "essential" pieces to grind first, and get those to look exactly how I want.  Then, I grind the ones that are part of the background - and if they don't fit perfectly in their spots, I can always remove a little here or there and it doesn't matter since it was just a background piece anyway.

For example, check out the piece to the right, which had just gone through the grinding stage when this photo was taken.  I ground the sun, boat, and frog first, then made the background yellow/orange, blue, and green fit around those main areas of the design.

Would it be faster to cut away or grind out that inner curve?

Would it be faster to cut away or grind out that inner curve?

2.  Minimize Grinding

This is probably more of a cutting tip, but one thing I find to really speed up how quickly I can make a project, as well as minimizing cost (grinder bits are pricey!), is to really make sure I've cut away as much glass as I can before I grind.  I want to make sure I only have to do a quick pass with the grinder to remove those sharp edges, and MAYBE do a little extra work on a tricky inner curve.  

But poking around on YouTube, I found videos that tell you not to even try cutting away the glass on an inner curve, and instead to grind out the whole area!  You'll go crazy, it will take forever, and your husband might threaten your life if you don't make that grinder noise stop!  (The last happens often enough to me even with my strategy to maximize cutting and minimize grinding...)  Take the time to get comfortable with glass scoring and breaking, trust me, it will be worth it!



3.  Change/Move Grinding Bit

Grinding bits wear out, but they do so slowly, so sometimes I don't notice that the area of the bit I'm working with is getting dull until it's doing nothing at all.  I usually put on a new bit so that the bottom part is the grinding surface, then slowly move it down the shaft as it gets dull.

4.  Work With Direction of Rotation

Grinding bits rotate counter-clockwise on the grinder (at least on mine, and google says this is how most of them work).  So, if I am pushing my piece to the left under the spinning bit (against the direction of spin), it will grind away more of the glass than if I push it to the right, with the direction of spin.  This is useful to know, because if you have a big chunk of glass to grind out, then going against the spin will have more of an effect than going with the spin.  And then do the opposite when you're mostly done but just want to take that final smoothing pass.

5. Perfection is the Last Step!

Last tip - as you are grinding each piece and fitting them together, don't worry if it's not perfect.  I'll do my first pass at grinding, and often still have a bunch of pieces that aren't fitting nicely.  Once I've given each piece one go at the grinder, I'll look over the whole thing and figure out where I still need to trim away some glass.  By waiting until the end, I find that I can make sure I'm trimming those background pieces and not the ones where the shapes are more critical.

Those are my top 5 grinding tips!  The final step after I finish grinding a piece is to see if it fits in the bigger glass puzzle; before I do that, I always dry it off so it doesn't get my pattern paper all wet and blotchy.  And I keep a Sharpie close by; if I end up needing to trim a piece down in multiple spots or don't want to lose my place, I'll mark the problem area with the Sharpie, do another grinding pass, and usually the water in the grinder is enough to clean up that Sharpie line.

Beginnings - My First Glass Projects

There was a very specific reason I decided to learn stained glass, and I get to see it every day.  I had been enjoying making mosaics for a few years, and stained glass looked to be much more complicated and to require many more tools and more space.  (Turns out it isn't as complicated as I thought- and I have another post planned to talk about required tools and supplies.)

my mosaic entryway

my mosaic entryway

My husband and I had moved into our Baltimore City rowhouse (complete with a mosaic entry floor I made), and had a plain glass transom above both the front and backdoor.  Many rowhouses in the city have a colorful stained glass transom with the house number in the glass above the door, and we wanted our house to have one too.


Off to Glass School

My husband suggested that I should take a class to learn how to make a transom with our house number for us - so a few months after moving in, I did.  I found an introductory copper foil class at The Glass Key, which met one evening a week for 6 weeks.  We completed a basic project in that time and gained the skills needed to do more projects.  

As part of the class, I bought a basic toolkit and bought my grinder the night we learned to grind.  I loved the class!  We had "homework" each week to complete the step we had just learned so we could move on as a group together the next week. Now I'm the type of student who always does her homework, plus I was motivated to learn so I could work on my transom project.  I'm not sure why all the other students were there, but let's just say they weren't as conscientious...  the second week, I was made fun of by the others since I was the only one who completed the assignment!  Sigh.  


Here it is, my very first ever project, in all it's uneven-lines,, badly-cut, bumpy-lumpy-solder glory.  This was our practice piece, and at each step, we'd make a mess out of this sad little square before continuing on to our 'real' project.


Here are the two 'real' projects I completed during the class.  These patterns were both pretty easy for a beginner:


I don't really know what to DO with these projects now; they're not pretty enough to hang up (tons of flaws when you see them up close, the Koi one even has a broken piece where I let the hot soldering iron sit too long, and the heat caused a crack), but I don't want to get rid of them, so they sit in the basement wrapped up under my work table.  I learned a ton making them though and had the confidence to continue on to my...

Transom Project

I couldn't decide what our transom design should be.  I looked online at pictures of others that I liked, and ultimately drew a simple geometric design that I hoped wouldn't be too hard for my third real project.  

I thought it wouldn't be hard, but it turns out I didn't plan it very well- my design involved having to cut half-circles into several pieces of glass, and this was not easy for a beginner!  I kept breaking the glass in bad spots and having to start over again.  I ended up ruining enough of the clear pieces that I had to go back to the store for more glass. ..  but eventually,  through a combination of careful cutting and more grinding than anyone should ever do, I got them done.  However, the clear glass I was using was textured, and the texture had a orientation.   But since I had to repeat so many of these pieces, somewhere along the way I screwed up and turned one 90 degrees.   But I didn't notice until I was almost done, so it is still in there!  You can't tell unless you get up close though.

The very last step was to install my framed piece in the transom.  But I must have gotten a measurement wrong, and it was just barely too big!  My husband ended up sanding down the zinc frame on the bottom where it would be least visible, and got it installed.

This is the actual picture; its hard to get a pic from the front.

...and here's the flipped pic; this is how it looks from the front of the house.

...and here's the flipped pic; this is how it looks from the front of the house.

After I completed this project, I went on to make another transom window for our backdoor, and a variety of other panels for gifts or just for fun.  

Backdoor Transom

Backdoor Transom

It's been 6 years since that first class, and I've acquired a bunch of new tools, have tons of ideas for future projects, and most excitingly, I am going to get into fusing and slumping soon!

Just last week, I found a used kiln on Craigslist and brought her home!  I named her EsmereldaI need some supplies and we need to rearrange some things in the basement for her, but she'll soon be helping me out with a bunch of new and exciting projects.  As an aside, she led to this conversation w/my husband:

K:   You named your kiln?

Me:  Of course, wouldn't you?

K:  Um, no.  The lathe is just called "the lathe".  

Share your first project or why you decided to learn stained glass in the comments!

My Top 4 Glass Cutting Tips

This is part of a series of posts about tips I've learned while working on my projects; hopefully they will be helpful to those just starting out.  These lists aren't meant to cover everything, and if you have additional tips, please share in the comments!

This topic should be relevant whether your interest is in stained glass, fused glass, or just in using stained glass sheets in your mosaic projects.  


First, lets start out with the tools you need. It's not much!  I have found that I can do everything I need with the three tools in the picture.  One of these days, I will get one of those fancy schmancy glass saws (and don't worry, I will blog ALL about it!), but for now, I am doing everything the old-fashioned way.  I am using a grip cutter, running pliers, and breaker/grozer pliers.  Those three tools together will cost about $40.

Glass Cutting Tip 1:  A Waffle Grid is Essential

In addition to the tools, I also find that a waffle grid like that in the above picture is super-helpful for keeping glass shards <mostly> contained and to help avoid injuries.  I didn't have one at first, and find it to be useful for two reasons.  First, the shards fall into the grid, so you're not as likely to end up with them under your skin, on the floor, or underneath the glass you're scoring (and then scratching the bottom or worse, causing your glass to break).  

Second, a lot of times, you need to make a long straight score in a piece of glass.  If I can see through the glass, I line up where I need to make the cut over one of the lines in the waffle grid - giving me a line to follow.  

Glass Cutting Tip 2:  Take Your Time 

Go slow and don't try to do too much in one cut, unless it is a straight line.  This doesn't come naturally if you're impatient like me, so I've had to learn this lesson a few times.  If you're cutting any kind of curve, make sure that any one score isn't too complex.

My first "real" project - those half-circles I had to cut into the clear pieces were a pain!

My first "real" project - those half-circles I had to cut into the clear pieces were a pain!

This also goes back to your design-- don't make the same mistake I did and draw a first design that involves cutting half-circles into your glass!  It's definitely possible to be able to do that with the tools I have, but it's tough and requires a LOT of patience to slowly score more gradual curves and chip away the glass, a piece at a time - and wasn't easy for a beginner. That glass saw will open up lots of new possibilities, but I have found that with a combination of careful design and patient cutting, I have been able to accomplish almost everything I want.

Glass Cutting Tip 3:  Beware of Curves

Too many sharp inner curves in one piece of glass has been a recipe for disaster for me.  I always do a final pass over the drawing to look at each individual piece, after all the lines are in place to double check for anything that would be un-cuttable.  Even after doing this, I'll sometimes still find a hidden scary curve when cutting out the pattern.  This happened with my alien panel, I'd originally had the sides of the face drawn as one piece instead of two.  This one worked just as well with cutting each of them in half, so I did.


To the right is a photo of the lemon rind from the lemonade panel - I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make this cut or not, and had a backup plan of splitting the rind into two pieces if needed.  But by slowly scoring and chipping away at the glass, it worked out!

(BTW, pay no attention to the red smudge in that pic; every project needs a little of my DNA in it to personalize it...)


Glass Cutting Tip 4:  Curves Part Deux


Lastly, if you're cutting an inner curve that will end in a point, I find that it usually works better for me if I cut the curve first, while there's still some extra glass hanging out on the other side of the point.  This is hard to explain, so see the pic at the right.


I first started working on the inner curve, then removed the glass to the right of the point.  Scroll thru the pix below to see the order of my steps.

That's it for today - if I think of more essential cutting tips, I'll add another post.  If you've got anything to add, please share in the comments!

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase by clicking on affiliate links, I will receive a small commission.  All links will be for products that I have personally used and recommend, and profits will go towards maintaining and improving this site.

Creating Stained Glass Masterpiece from a Photograph

The last post covered some design tips; today, I want to post about turning a photograph into a stained glass panel.  This same technique would work for a mosaic or another craft too - it's all about turning a photo into a simple line drawing that you can work from.


For this project, I'm going to work with this photo that I took this on vacation in Greece, on the island of Kos.  We were on a guided tour, and stopped in Zia to see the town and have lemonade.  The photo is of my glass of lemonade, with the Aegean Sea and Turkey in the background.  I love the colors in this picture, and it always reminds me of such a great day; I have been wanting to turn this photo into a glass project for a while!

Step 1:  Transform Photo into Line Drawing

Here's my black-and-white, borrrrrring picture! &nbsp;time to turn that into shiny colorful glass !!

Here's my black-and-white, borrrrrring picture!  time to turn that into shiny colorful glass !!

In your photo editor of choice (I used Picasa), turn the photo into a line drawing - it is the "Pencil Sketch" option in Picasa. Here's my transformed photo:  


Step 2:  Trace Significant Features of Your Photo 


Now, print out that line drawing, and trace the significant features onto a new sheet of paper. I used my light box, shown in the photo to make the tracing easier.  If you don't have a light box, just outline the significant features of your photo with a Sharpie and then you should be able to trace it without the backlighting.

Here's where you get to take some creative license!  Want to move a background element to a different position?  Add a lemon slice on the rim of that glass of lemonade?  (I see a mint leaf on the bottom of that glass, but I wasn't about to attempt turning that into glass - it might end up looking unappetizing! But I still thought it needed a little something-something, so I added a lemon slice!)  Go crazy here!  Pencils have erasers for a reason, you can always 'undo' your changes. 


So here is the design I turned my photo into, after some trial and error (this is the final copy, and doesn't show all the eraser marks!).  I moved the glass to the left, deleted Turkey (sorry, Turkey...) from the background, changed/simplified the colors, added my lemon slice, etc.  Now it is an 88-piece stained glass panel.



Step 3: Choose Glass Colors and Make Your Panel!

For this image, it was really easy for me to choose colors - given the photo, I knew I wanted bright yellow lemonade, a sunny sky, and a red tabletop.  

So, here it is, turned into glass (cut and ground, not yet foiled and soldered).  What do you think?  What would you have done differently?  Would you have changed some of the coloring, kept the background islands, added a flower vase??  The possibilities are endless!  I think it would be awesome if one of my readers reinterpreted this photo for themselves - if you give it a try, please post a pic or link in the comments!


And here is the finished piece!  This one went pretty fast, from photo to framed piece ready to hang.

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase by clicking on affiliate links, I will receive a small commission.  All links will be for products that I have personally used and recommend, and profits will go towards maintaining and improving this site.

My Top 3 Stained Glass Design Tips

I'm starting a series of posts about tips about how to make stained glass that I've learned while working on my projects; hopefully they will be helpful to those just starting out.  These lists aren't meant to cover everything, and if you have additional tips, please share in the comments!

Today's entry will focus on designing your piece - there are a few things you can do upfront while you're laying out your design, to make things easier in the cutting step to follow.


Of course, you can always find a pattern in a design book, and I definitely recommend that as a way to get started - but I've always been more interested in creating my own designs.  For me, my first two pieces, done in a class, were from patterns, but my first 'real' panel was a stained glass transom for our house - so it needed to be a custom size and work in our house number.  

Tip 1:  Simplicity of Design

My number one tip is to keep it simple simple simple,  especially at first.  Think coloring book drawing for a small child simple!  The more details, the more pieces and the more complexity.  And the simpler the drawing, the easier it will be to spot those difficult or impossible to cut areas.

Tip 2:  Clip Art is Your Friend

For those that are artistically challenged, like me, here is my secret:  when I have an idea of something I want to create, my first stop is to look at free clip art images online.  I will look for one or two that I can resize and put together to fit my purposes.  This step usually involves printing and photocopying the images at different enlargements and putting them together.  Often I also need to simplify the pictures - removing details and softening lines to make it easier to turn into glass.

Then once I have the arrangement I want, next step is to decide how to turn it into pieces of glass and determine where the solder lines will fall.  This will be different for every image, but try to break up the picture in places where it makes sense.

Tip 3:  Background Lines are Important in your Glass Piece!

For the background of your piece,  consider where the solder lines will be and if they should be straight,  wavy, or organized in some way that will strengthen the design.  

Stained Glass Background Example 1

In the picture to the right, I have the lines radiating from Alyssa Alien's head for emphasis.  I did it that way to make her seem more powerful - and conveniently for me, those lines lined up with the best places to work around her antennae and planet :)


Stained Glass Background Example 2 - Sky and Water

Here's another example - in this one, I decided on wavy lines for most of the sky but straight lines radiating from top of the lighthouse.  In general, I tend to use wavy lines for sky, water, earth backgrounds.


Stained Glass Background Example 3 - Symmetry

Finally,  I wanted this circular piece to be totally symmetrical so I made sure the background solder lines would be in the exact same spot for each flower.  

I love symmetrical designs, and having the background also be symmetrical is pleasing to the eye!


So in summary -- keep things simple, look for free clip art, and make sure your background flows with the rest of the piece - those are my top 3 tips!  Not so hard at all :)

I'll add more posts about my design process later on - my next post will talk about turning a photograph into a stained glass panel.  For now though, do you have any tips or ideas to share?  Add them in the comments!

That Time I Made 25 Turtles


A few years ago, I had an idea to make a bunch of small turtles for my coworkers, to commemorate wrapping up a big project.  


I found an example of something close to what I was envisioning on Pinterest, and modified it a little.  I had a bunch of green glass leftover from other projects, so I started out by making one as an example - and once I was happy with the design I turned on some music and set up my turtle assembly line.

Each turtle required 5 pieces of glass (body and 4 legs), so first I cut the shapes out of paper for tracing.  For the heads, I used little glass gems.


The way I divided up the steps was as follows:

1.  Tracing:  I cut out one design and traced the outlines of the pieces using a Sharpie on the glass.

2.  Cutting:  I cut all 125 pieces, and made little piles of body parts for assembly.

3. Grinding:  I ground all the glass and used the grinder to scuff the edges of the gems so the foil tape would stick.

4. Foiling:  Definitely needed a podcast to alleviate the boredom of this step.

5. Wire:  I added a wire spiral to the front of each turtle body, so next step was to bend a piece of wire into a spiral,  and make a second smaller piece to use as the hanger on the backs.  So 50 cut and shaped wires.

6. Soldering:  I set up about 8 turtles at a time, fluxed, and tack-soldered them together.   Then I fully soldered them, using a vise to hold them to complete the edges.  I also made 2 drips of solder on the top of each head to represent the eyes.


I really should have kept track of how long all of this took, but since it was easy to put in 30-60 minutes at a time when I could, I didn't track it.  It didn't feel too tedious though since the steps moved pretty quickly.  Soldering was the exception to this - this seemed to take forever,  especially the edges since I had to keep moving the pieces around in the vise, being sure not to touch the hot area I'd just finished.

But they were done in plenty of time to hand them out, and I tied a little ribbon and name tag to each wire hanger.   Sometimes now I see them on people's desks when I go visit my coworkers from that time- and of course I made an extra one for me to keep for posterity!

Have you ever mass-produced an item for gifts to a group?

Things That Inspire Me

One of my plans for this blog is to occasionally post about things that inspire me - sometimes these will be photos I took or sometimes links to other sites or blogs.  For today, here is a photo I took on vacation that I would love to turn into a glass panel or mosaic.  I took this in Greece on an awesome sailing trip through the Dodecanese, this photo was taken at sunrise on the island of Chalki:


And one more, from the same island on the same morning.  I got up just before sunrise that morning and took a few pictures from the boat we were chartering for the week.  I love the first one for its simplicity and in the second, I'd like to create a mosaic that shows the colorful houses, the moon, and the reflection on the water.  


Tell me about where you have found inspiration recently in the comments!

Finishing Steps (and getting in my own way)

Alien Encounter is done!  The last steps I needed to complete, Sunday, were to add the frame and hanging materials.  I wanted to finish this one so I can bring it in to work this week, along with three other pieces, for hanging in our employee art show.  Now, I didn't HAVE to finish it today, there will be another show in a few months.  But I was so close so I wanted to get it done.

I almost got in my own way of finishing it though - I didn't have quite enough of the zinc came to frame it, so I stopped by the supply store I like earlier in the week to buy another piece.  Yesterday, I was happily framing along, and had 3 of the 4 sides cut from the zinc I had on hand when I had to move to the new piece.  Turns out though that I accidentally bought the wrong size!  (3/8" instead of 1/4")  My first reaction was disappointment that I wouldn't get the project done since it would involve another trip to the store - which is closed on Sundays and Mondays.  But then I realized that I could just start over with the larger piece and make all 4 sides again from the wider material.  I had re-doing things, and I don't like wasting materials, but it was the only thing standing in my way of getting this piece completed, so I went with it.

Another part of my mental block with starting over was that it felt like it took SO LONG to cut the first three sides.  But I had a feeling the saw blade might be getting dull, so I went ahead and changed it before I started up again.  Wow, what a difference!  I hadn't realized it but the old blade was pretty dull - and the new blade went through the zinc like butter!  I was cackling away while I zipped through that came and got the new frame cut and taped into place.

So that's my story, but here are the details of the actual framing steps:


First, I cut the zinc came on a 45 degree angle and taped it into place with masking tape.  


Next, in each corner, I used masking tape to block off the square where I would solder the zinc pieces together - this keeps the solder contained to that square area and it looks neater.


Then I fluxed and soldered each corner, and each place where a solder joint met the frame.  One area I'd like to improve on is to be a neater solder-er, it's hard to get it flowing just right!  To get the square nice and flat, I held the soldering iron nearly horizontally to flatten it out.


Repeat on each corner, and, ta-da, she is complete!  I just added two steel rings on either side of the frame for the hanging wire, and it is all done.  I'm including two pictures, because I had a really hard time getting a good photo of this one.  The one to the right is on my light box, and the one below is without the back-lighting, but neither really show the true colors.  Add improving at photography to my list of goals for this site!


Does anyone have any tips for getting good photos of stained glass work?  If so, please share in the comments!