Thursday, November 28, 2013

Take A Walk By The Seashore

You can always take a walk by the seashore if you're running out of ideas for creating stained glass suncatchers.

Sound stupid?  Not at all.

If you live close to the ocean like I do and walk the beaches, you can often find a plethora of shells and rocks washed up during the high tides.

The ocean is a giant natural rock tumbler and whatever is washed ashore during the high tide is usually found in a somewhat polished condition.

An ordinary oyster shell or a broken piece from a larger shell is often unrecognizable as a shell.  Instead it takes on the aura of a piece of art that can be incorporated into your stained glass suncatchers.

An hour walk by the seashore can load you up with enough treasure to keep your mind occupied with new creations for some time.

Shells for use in stained glass suncatchers, wind chimes or in mobiles are prepared in the same manner as your stained glass.

You may need to grind the edges of shells thinner to accommodate foiling but you foil the shell the same as your glass.

Once foiled and burnished, you can tack the pieces to the glass pattern and solder as you normally would.

Ocean "tumbled" oyster shells make a beautiful unique addition to any stained glass suncatcher, wall hanging, wind chime or mobile pattern and they don't cost you a thing!

Next time you have the opportunity to take a walk by the seashore, be sure to bring along a couple of gallon size freezer bags to put your shells into.

Arts & Craft Books

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fun With Bottles

If you're into stained glass, you can have fun with bottles and recycle them by incorporating them into your stained glass projects.

How to make them part of your stained glass project is entirely up to your fertile imagination however, here are a couple of ideas you may want to consider.

Cut off wine bottle bottoms to create unusual stained glass windows or wall hangings.

Use your grinder to reduce the edge thickness of the bottle bottoms to match the stained glass you are using, foil and then solder together as you would any other stained glass project.

Cut the bottoms off various sizes of different colored bottles to create unique wind chimes.

   Once the bottoms have been cut off, grind the edges even, drill holes in them about 1/4" in from the edge and tie them together using monofilament or PowerPro Braided Spectra Fiber Micro Filament Line - 100-150 Yards.

Wall hangings and panels are a great way to use the bottoms of colored bottles or a bottle cut in half lengthwise.

The video below shows how to cut a bottle in half lengthwise using a band saw.  The trick is to go slowly and let the blade do the work.

The idea of cutting the tops of bottles to make a set of drinking glasses has been around for years.

Once you cut the bottles tops off (using the method of your choice) you need to smooth the edges so they are suitable for drinking.

The best and easiest way to achieve a "factory" edge on your newly created drinking glass is to use a propane or Mapp Gas plumbers torch.

Mapp gas burns hotter than ordinary propane so pay attention when heating up the glass.

Once you adjust the torch to get a blue flame, heat the entire glass evenly and gradually concentrate on keeping the flame on the rough edges around the rim.  The sharp edges will eventually melt into a bead.

Heating the glass EVENLY is important to keep the glass from shattering.

Personally, I don't like drinking from "bottle" glasses because of their rim thickness.  I prefer using the cut bottles for indoor planters or making wind candles.

Some stained glass artisans have fun with bottles by breaking or cutting different colored bottles into manageable pieces and using them in suncatchers or wall hanging projects.

(This requires a kiln to slump or flatten out the pieces.)

The video below shows one method of cutting the tops off of bottles using the Gryphon C40 glass cutting band saw.

Another method I use on a regular basis that works just as well requires a jig and is less costly, but takes longer.

First you need to make a simple jig using 3/4" (1x4) pine boards and a few sheet rock screws or glue to hold the bottle secure when scoring.
  • Cut two pieces of the 1x4 about 16" to 18" long and screw or glue them into a "V" shape.  
  • Next make the bottle stop by screwing or gluing a 7" or 8" piece of 1x4 to one end of the vee.  The bottom of the stop needs to be flush with the bottom of the vee.
  • You can add a hand rest if you like by screwing another piece of 1 x 4 to the shorter side of the vee and to the back of the bottle stop.
That's all you need to hold most bottles secure enough to make an even cut around the circumference of the bottle.

Place the bottle in the jig with the bottom flush against the stop and cut around the circumference with your glass cutting tool by rotating the bottle slowly and keep the cutting wheel on the glass until it meets on the other side.

As soon as the bottle is scored, you need to tap the score from the inside with a "tapping" tool to break off the top of the bottle.

You can either purchase a tapping tool or make one from a length of brass rod bent at the end with a nut or some other weight soldered up from the bend to add weight.

The list for having fun with bottles is endless, but the main trick is learning how to cut the bottles easily without hurting yourself in the process.

Arts & Craft Books