Sunday, July 26, 2009

Stained Glass - Where Did It Come From?

Stained glass originated sometime before the middle ages, however, most historians believe it actually received it's name during this period.

Church artisans created different colored glass for use in their churches, by using silver paste stains to coat the glass, and then fire the pieces in a kiln, in order to obtain the desired colors.

Different mixes were used to create different colors. The kiln temperatures and oxygen content in the kilns were also manipulated to create various color shades, surface textures, and finishes, that occurred during the cooling stage.

Stained glass is a very old art form that is now seen almost everywhere in our culture.

There are two basic methods of stained glass construction that is commonly used today.

Lead Came Method

The lead came method, is by far the oldest method in use, and dates back to the middle ages where church window construction was the main end use.

The stained glass is cut into fitted patterns, and held together by strips of grooved lead. The long strips of lead have a single or double channel groove in them, that match the approximate thickness of the glass.

The stained glass edges are then slipped into the channels, trimmed to size, and soldered together to hold the glass in place.

The result is a strong, solid framed, piece that is perfectly suited for long lasting, window construction.

Copper Foil Method

No one is really sure when the copper foil method of joining stained glass came into vogue, but most modern historians attribute it's development to Louis Comfort Tiffany.

It is presumed he developed the method to more easily create the curvel lamp shades he is renowned for. In any event, it is the method most commonly used today.

Lengths of copper foil are tightly wrapped around the edges of each piece of stained glass in the pattern. The pieces are then carefully soldered together to create a "bead" on both sides of the pattern, that holds the piece together.

The copper foils are made in different widths, that correspond to the thickness of the stained glass, that is being used in the construction.

Modern copper foils are produced with an adhesive backing on one side to aid in wrapping the edge of the glass. The glues are heat resistant, for the most part, and substantially expedite the construction of a project.

The copper foil method of construction is perfect for curved projects, 3D projects, sun catchers, and most other projects. Larger, heavier projects require the incorporation of wire stiffeners, to help hold the stained glass project together.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not !

What do you do with leftover stained glass from all your projects?

Well, the best idea I've come up with is to first sort the glass by size and color.

Smaller pieces can be placed in plastic shoe boxes, labeled, and stacked for easy retrieval when needed for small projects or fusing.

Larger pieces should be sorted vertically and an old bookcase or kitchen cabinet is an excellent storage location.

My husband redesigned a spare bedroom with old kitchen and base cabinets on the walls that have plenty of storage space for my stained glass pieces.

Base cabinets are about the right height to work from and also provide storage for my grinders, ring saw, etc. The smaller drawers work fine for storing smaller supplies like foil, lead solder, grinder bits, etc.

Plastic coffee containers are great for beads, wire, and smaller glass pieces used in mosaics or other smaller projects.

Anyone with newer ideas? Please feel free to comment.