Tag Archives: lamp

Light Box Soldering Part I

So in my last post, I talked about some of the projects in which I’ve used reinforcing wires to add strength and support to the soldering lines, and I’ve started the process of adding in this support to my green and grey light box.  Here are a few photos to show you what I’m doing.  And don’t get me wrong, I’m making this up as I go along.  If anyone has suggestions for a better method, definitely let me know!

When planning where I want reinforcement, I thought about it in terms of adding strength, as well as providing a stop-gap for solder along all the edges of this lamp.  So I knew I need wire along every edge.  In the end, I decided to cut four pieces of wire and then bend them to fit — one piece of wire would start at the bottom of the lamp, run up a corner edge, run along one side of the top edge between the side and top panels, and then overlap about an inch back down the next corner edge.  I started with the one-inch overlap part, thinking it would likely be easier to fit a longer, more maneuverable piece of wire overtop of that piece afterwards:

Starting with the one-inch section on all four corners left me with long ‘arms’ that I would bend and solder as I went along:

Four pieces of wire

After placing in all four pieces of wire, I began to bend and solder them along the top edge, working one at a time.  I spot-soldered the edge to keep the wire in place.  The spot-soldering allowed me to bend the wire in each section to keep it as tight to the corner as possible and when I go back to add a finish solder bead along these edges, it will help keep the wire from popping back up as the solder melts along.  On the left corner, you can see where the wire I’ve just soldered and the wire intended for the next edge intersect:

Spot solder along the top edgeFrom there I bent the length of the wire to follow the side corner along to the bottom edge.  The point here is that it will overlap and help cover the next one inch section so that when I apply a finish solder bead, everything gets covered evenly.  I guess I will have to see how this theory will work out for my next post:

In the picture above, you can see a pretty sizeable gap between the side and top panel, and the wire helps add bulk to fill this in so that it’s not just solder doing this job.  From there, the wire that was just bent around the corner was soldered into the side-side edge, again as tight as possible.  The next wire (the one sticking out the right side of the photo) will be bent around to the side-top edge, the same way I’ve just described above.  And so on until all four sides are done.  Up next?  Adding a wire ring around the bottom edge and applying a finish solder bead to all the edges.

 

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Up next – another light box

When I designed the light box I’ve posted about recently, I used the design twice to create one light box in moody, shady tones and one in brighter, sharper colours (pictured below in teal, bright green, iridescent and textured glass).  Based on my last experiences trying to solder the panels on the last light box together, and having it be a bit of a mess, I’ve decided to pull all the pieces apart, re-foil them and solder them again new.  A bit of a pain in the butt, but I’m aiming for better quality results over less total working time with this one anyways.

Here are all my glass pieces pulled apart:

The next step will be to remove the existing (old) copper foil, clean off any residues and foil them over again, the same way I described in this post.

After that, I will need to assemble my panels and put everything together.  I designed to top panel when I was working on the grey-green light box, but the design was a little bit different because I only had a few small scraps of remaining glass to work with.  I still like the way everything kind of swirls at the top, though:

Light Box Top Panel

More posts to come on how this project progresses!

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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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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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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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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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Back on the Stained Glass Horse

…  although I’d have to get back on it very delicately if I was being really literal.

It’s been a long time since I had a studio space set up at all.  I’m ready to get back into it!  I spent some time after work today unpacking boxes of supplies and looking at the glass bits that I’ve had all bundled up for the past two years…  What a long time!  *le sigh*  No more sighing, though, because I’m so close to having more project work completed I can taste it!

For your viewing pleasure, some pictures:

Spare Bedroom Studio Set-up!

Some lamp panels I started years ago…

More panels…

Glass and copper foil detail

A puzzle… !

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