Grey and Green Light Box

So last week I posted about some lamp panels I was refurbishing from my first attempt three years ago.  I worked on this lamp some more this week, and it’s starting to really take shape!  This week so far I’ve pieced together the top panel for this light box and spot-soldered the sides and top together to actually form the 3D shape.

These are the panels fitted together.  I designed just the four sides originally, but then later wanted to add a top panel.  The four sides were designed to have curving lines that continued and connected all the way around the lamp.  When I went to design the top panel, I essentially laid out the four side panels the way you see in the picture below, marked where all the solder lines hit at the top edge, and designed something that would connect all the pieces on top.

Panels fitted together

From here, I used tape and a really (very) poor tiny square tool as an approximate shape to hold the panels together so I could spot solder them.  When I actually have the time and space to get something else together, I want to make a proper 90 degree jig out of some plywood.  I have a few fantastic metal pieces that I can pin down to set up jig guides, but I don’t want to destroy this table too quickly!

Putting the side panels together

After the sides were spot soldered together, I placed the top panel on, in approximately the right location (I’ll be the first to admit that my sides were not 100% square and all the same lengths…), and spot soldered it down to add some structural integrity to this whole light box lamp thing…  I plan to reinforce all of the corners/edges with copper wire, so spot soldering is how this will be held together until then.

Spot soldering on the top panel

Once it was all together, I found a light bulb (probably the same size and warmth that I’ll use in the finished lamp) and stuck it underneath on the table to see approximately what the finished light box would look like… Pretty!  I like it on much better than off, which I think is a small failing on my part – normally I like to have some contrast between the glass in an unlit lamp to give it some definition and texture without relying completely on the light – in this piece I feel that the grey, grey-green and green are all similar in tone and saturation of colour and end up blending together a bit more than I would like.  Until you turn the light on!

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Then I think it looks great!  {I do have to note that for a light-box with a covered top, you should always use only a compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb, because with a regular incandescent bulb, the fixture will get really hot and could burn someone or be a fire hazard.}  So next up?  Filling in the gaps and reinforcing the edges with copper, and final soldering and patina.

I’m not 100% sure how I am going to finish the base of this lamp, but I’m sure I will be able to come up with something.  I purchased an ikea lamp at the thrift store this past weekend, and I am planning to disassemble it and use the electrical parts to create something better (and prettier!)  Stay tuned for updates as this project progresses!

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Music in the Studio

Music is a big part of my studio experience – I play certain songs when I’m in certain moods, because it reminds me of a particular piece I’m working on at the moment, or to get me (or keep me) motivated.

Our system at home for music is 2-part.  To play music, we use a speaker that’s part of the Sonos range of products.  It’s a simple set-up (a central part that creates its own wireless network and one speaker) that has really good sound.  I can access the controls from my computer and my phone, which makes it very easy to use.  I love it.  To find music to play, we use the rdio online service (not a spelling error…).  We have a subscription with access to pretty much anything we can think of to listen to.  I’ve found a ton of music I really enjoy by just browsing through the menus of what other people are listening to.

This week in music, I’m sharing a favourite artist.  I like the catchy beats, interesting rhythms and sounds, and I love the vocalists.  The artist is SBTRKT, and you can read more about this music at the SBTRKT website.  

 

 

 

I think that my favourite song from this album is Pharaohs ft. Roses Gabor.  I like the sharp staccato melody against the soft breathy vocals.  The beat keeps my energy up and keeps me moving.  You can listen to the song and watch the video here.  Enjoy!

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Panels Re-Do

*le sigh*

I started working on a couple of lamp panels several years ago (I think it is three years ago, although I am ashamed to admit that was the last time I had studio space set up…) and I recently pulled them out again to finish them as part of my goal to complete old projects before working on new ones…  Sadly, the copper foil oxidized and soldering the pieces together (over the old solder and bad copper foil) was just not going very well.

Oxidized copper foil

I decided I would pull all the old copper foil off, replace it with new foil and just start over.  {You can see the process for how I did this in my post on fixing up the hummingbird sun-catcher.}  Removing the copper foil was time consuming and annoying, especially so with several components of textured glass, but in the end it made soldering everything much easier, cleaner and produced better results.

This is the solder result from the panel that I just worked on soldering over as-is.  There was not as much oxidization on the copper foil as on the panel in the picture above, and I figured I could probably make it work:

Bad solder...

These solder lines didn’t melt as smoothly on the fixed-up panels – and the finish on it is kind of grainy and dull, like it tarnished faster than the solder on the panels where I replaced the foil.  Here’s what those solder lines look like:

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Ok, so maybe my photos aren’t quite the best…  But you can kind of get the idea that this solder line is smoother, plumper and shinier.  The soldering process went much faster as well because the copper foil was new, and everything was just happy to stick together.  After my first attempt to solder the original copper foil panels, I figured something a bit more intensive would be required to get the solder to bond to the copper without totally starting over — so I scrubbed everything down (old solder, recent solder, copper foil, glass) with a bit of soap and steel wool to clean the existing materials and rough-up the copper for a better bond.  It works – I got the rest of the solder lines onto the panels without too much trouble.

Up next?  Finishing the top piece of this lamp box and connecting all the pieces together!

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A Little Fixer Up’er

I made a series of sun-catchers for family members one year, and this little hummingbird was one of them.  Sadly, he got squished and his wings fell off!  *sad face*  So as something I can do to finish a variety of projects I started (before moving on to new ones), I thought I would work on fixing up this sun-catcher with some improvements!  I talked about some of the steps I could take to fix this piece in an earlier post, and here they are in more detail and with pictures.

Step One:  Removing the broken wings.  Luckily the glass isn’t broken – the copper foil has just been pulled off the edges of the glass.  To remove the wings, I pulled them off with my hands, breaking the copper foil to remove them from the pieces.  {Just a note – use your judgement when doing this.  If it will pull other solder seams or otherwise make more trouble for you to fix, just melt everything off gently with the soldering iron.}  Then I melted the solder in the joint between the wing and body, using the soldering iron to push the remaining foil out of the way.

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Step Two:  Remove the old copper foil from both wing pieces.  I used a small exacto knife to help me scrape the copper foil off all edges of the wings.

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Step Three:  Cleaning the glass.  There is a sticky residue left over from the copper foil around the edges of the wing pieces.  To clean them, I put them into a sink of warm water with a small amount of dish soap.   I let the soak for a few minutes, then used an old rag to wipe off the sticky stuff on the edges of the glass.  Good as new and ready to be re-foiled and attached back on!

Sticky residue on edges of glass

Step Four: Re-apply copper foil.  I’m using a 1/4″ copper foil, partly because I’m out of 7/32″ and partly because I want there to be a solid border around these wing pieces.  Going to 3/16″ is not a great option for single pieces that will be attached by only a single solder joint.

Foiled wings

Step Five: Attaching the wings back onto the body.  I thought about why these wings came off in the first place, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that there isn’t a whole lot of structural connectivity between the body and the plane of the wing.  It was very easy for the wing to be bent upwards or downwards, and for the copper foil to pull away from the glass.  So I’m going to use some thin wire to help create more stability.  I’ve started incorporating wire supports into my work to add structural integrity and strength, so I think it’s not a bad idea here.  I’m going to bring a piece of wire from the middle line of the body across the front edge of the wing, and the same thing on the back – a piece of wire running from the middle seam of the body across the back edge of the wing.

Step Six: Soldering it all together.  This process takes some time, and it would be amazing if I had a third hand to keep it all together.  If you’re thinking about getting into stained glass, be prepared to constantly cut and burn your fingers.  The first step to make this process much easier was to apply a layer of solder on all edges of the wings separately before adding wire or attaching them to the body of the hummingbird.

I chose to solder the wire all the way around the wings, both because it created a more consistent line around the wings, and just adds strength, which is the point of this fix.  I spot-soldered the wire first and then went over it again to add a smooth edge.

The last steps in reattaching the wings were to attach the wire to the body joint, and then to cover it all with a heavy line of solder.  This is where the earlier step of applying a thin coat of solder all the way around the edges really helps out – the goal now is to create joints between the existing solder instead of trying to get into some really tight spaces with a soldering iron to get everything coated.

Step 7: Clean the piece and VOILA!  Good as new!

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How To: Make a Reverse Pattern From Pieces You Cut Out Three Years Ago

So, I think the title says it all…  I have a lot of glass from projects that I cut out years ago and put in containers (I honestly did think I would work on them much sooner than this!) with the intent to put them together into something beautiful!  Alas, I did not put any record of how the pieces were supposed to fit together into the container with them…  Most of these containers have been puzzled over and eventually just abandoned into the scrap pile to be used for other projects at some future date.  But I did find one envelope that had a few clues to help me put it back together!

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The envelope contained 17 pieces, and had the label “butterfly” on the outside.  So far, so good.  I know what I’m supposed to be piecing together.  With the contents of the envelope emptied, the real fun begins.  Moving the green and white pieces around brings back a memory of a butterfly pattern I made in 2007 (!!), so that is some help.  I have an idea of how it is supposed to fit.  And at last, another clue clicks!  Some of the pieces are numbered!  And one of them is labelled with a number 1.  A starting point!  From there, it becomes clear that there are some white pieces designed to be squiggly edges of wings, and some that fit next to the butterfly body.  The green pieces just fall into place in between – and once one wing is laid out, the next is just a mirror image!  I think I just got lucky…

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I grind up my pieces to get the fit just right, and clean and foil them up – ready to go!  But then I realize that I don’t have a pattern (thanks, love of getting rid of things I haven’t used in years + moving at least four times since I cut this glass), and it would be nice to replicate this butterfly for future projects, as it’s actually quite cute!  So I assemble the pieces in their full shape and trace an outline onto a piece of paper.

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The next step is to clear the pieces and then trace each piece individually.  I started with the body, because it’s clear where that one is supposed to go, and the rest of the pieces can be traced out based on their relative positions.  Next I moved outwards into the wings, tracing the basic edges of each piece, and lining up the next piece against the newly traced lines.

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Once I traced all the pieces, I had a basic outline of the butterfly and all the components of the wings.  To finish off the pattern, I traced it out with a thick sharpie marker, to connect all the lines and to make it easy to copy this pattern on the light table in the future.

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After that, time to finish the butterfly!  I have to say it’s not my best solder work, but it’s been three years and then some, so it’s not a bad start…  I have a rheostat on my soldering iron, and think the temperature may need some adjustment.  But that’s neither here nor there.  I finished my first project in three years!  Fly little butterfly!

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Design at Hannah’s {New} House

So given that we moved in October, I thought it might be fitting to show another several pictures from the decoration that we (I directed, Marty lifted) did when we moved in to our new place.  I am posting these up in sets of before and after shots, because the before was a liiiiittle bit craaaazy…  It took me three days – two washes, sanding, dusting, three coats of primer and two coats of paint – to ensure that the raspberry red did not come through, and to get the very sharp tape lines softened out of the walls so the pattern wasn’t a major part of the decor any more.  All in all, I’m really pleased with how it worked out.

Before:

Before 3  Before 1

After:

After 2  After 1

And when our landlady (our age, super lovely lady!) came back to say hello and check things out, she said how much bigger it made the room look.  Of course!

Finished

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This workspace is for workin’

It may not be the most perfect space, but it’s enough for me to be able to have some dedicated space to set up a light table that doubles as a grinder station, and a table surface that I can cut and solder on, so it works for now!  Sadie likes to hang out and keep me company, and remind me every few hours to take a break and pay attention to her instead…

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The last couple of days, I’ve pulled out all my tools, picked up a couple of pieces that I was missing (rubber tips for my running pliers) and started getting back into the swing of cutting some glass!  It’s been awesome, and I’ve only cut myself twice.  So far.  It feels good to be back into it, though.  The work is repetitive and kind of therapeutic for that reason.  I put on an album and just get in the groove – it’s a good feeling to focus on something and be fully absorbed for a couple of hours.  I feel like I don’t do that a whole lot in other areas of things I take on.  I have two goals for the next little while: the first is to use up some of the smaller pieces and scrap glass I have in my  possession.  So here is my next lamp project to start using some up some of this material:

Cutting out glass pieces

The second goal I have is to fix up a couple of broken pieces and complete some stuff I started working on a couple years ago (seriously, it’s been that long!)  Number one on my list was a pretty little butterfly sun-catcher I made in a class a number of years ago.  On of the wire antennas fell off, so time to solder it back on – a nice easy fix!  {As an aside – I highly recommend taking a beginner class to brush up on some skills if you’re a hobbyist or been doing it for a couple of years without any instruction.  I’ve been making glass projects for years and a class gave me a couple easy tips and tricks that helped clean my work up a lot!  Hmmm… Maybe a topic for another post?}  Asides aside, here is my good-as-new butterfly:

Glass Butterfly

 

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New Workspace!

Just got a free table, and started to put together my workspace for *hopefully* some stained glass!  I’ve been working on some designs based on the sketches I put up last post.  I’m finding SketchUp really helpful in making accurate patterns, and I’m trying out an offset thing so account for the copper foil in the pattern.  I will report back when I have something to report on!

For now, some pictures of my semi-permanent workspace.  My free table, with some glass being taken out of boxes and assessed for condition, amount and colour.  Clearly, the wall behind this table needs some artwork to make it more interesting and less blank:

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My old light table, with a makeshift work surface made out of an Ikea cupboard door.  I’m excited about the potential of having a raised grinder:

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Prairie Stained Glass Musings

Today I made Marty haul me out to an art event some friends told us about – the Market Collective.  It was really cool, and really inspiring!  There were a ton of really great artists and craftspeople there, and for the rest of the afternoon while we ran errands, I kept thinking about stained glass…  Nothing like being surrounded by so much creative energy to amp up that desire in me as well.

And I’ve been thinking about the pieces that I’ve really loved making, and those have been the lamps I’ve created over the past several years.  It’s hard to put together a studio because of the mess – the water, the chemicals, broken glass, glass dust – but I really would like to give it a better try here.  My favourite recent pieces was the Prairie Gold lamp that I made for Marty, because I love the geometric shapes and the contrast of horizontal and vertical lines that are predominant in this style (throw in a little diagonal or curve to add some energy!).

Prairie Gold Table Lamp

I started doing some sketching based on some of these ideas – I think in the back of my mind are some thoughts about the literal prairie (hey, I live in Alberta now…) so wheat and grasses are in some of those repetitive diagonal lines.  There are two designs with a couple of checkmarks beside them – obviously, these are the winners (and I think one was re-proportioned off of the first), so hopefully stay tuned for something to materialize before too long!

Prairie Glass Sketchbook

 

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A Little Bit More Painting

Put the effort in to try another painting this afternoon.  I tried another tutorial – this one of a lovely beachy sunset.  I have to say, it was more complicated than yesterday’s painting.  There were an additional two pigments to use in blending (there was a tutorial for blending the colours – most helpful), which was a bit more confusing, and I struggled to keep the paint on my palette from drying too quickly.  I used a lot of dry brushing instead of blending when the paint on the page was wet – I think my tones were too far apart and it ended up looking weird to begin with.  My notebook is not square (I probably should have just roughly painted in a square) so I stretched the image out a little bit, but I think it was fine.  All in all, with a bit more scrubbing and mashing of paints together on my palette, I think it turned out pretty good!

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I definitely think I need to find a solution for the paints drying out so quickly, though.  That was really aggravating.  Some of my paints are thick and old (half mine, half inherited from my sister), which really doesn’t help at all.  If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment!

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