Tag Archives: studio

Light Box Soldering Part II

I’m picking up where I left off from my last post about this lightbox.  If you missed that post, you can read it here.

So I’m pretty happy with the way this wire has been integrated into the edges of this lamp box.  The wire was easy to form around the edges and corners, and helped me fill in some pretty big gaps.  I just basically continued from where I left off, bending the wire to wrap around the top edge and then back down the side, and spot soldering as I went along.

Once I had all four wires soldered into place, I was left with four stubby ends sticking out the bottom edge.  I’m going to leave them for now, until I add another piece of wire to the bottom edge, or figure out what my lamp base is going to be and how I’m going to attach everything.

Wire sticking out the bottom edge

I was reading some interesting techniques on the website of I.Tashiro, an incredible stained glass artist from Japan.  (You really should check out more of his work and techniques on his website — so informational and so beautiful!)  I’m not sure how this light box will be finished, but I might just build a wooden box for it to sit in and try out the brass sheet base technique on another project later…

Moving on from there, I went back to add some finish solder along the edges and along the inside corners.  Filling in the inside corners added some backing to the outside finished edges, so that the solder didn’t just drip through.

Soldering the inside edge

Everything worked out fairly well — I really only had trouble in two areas: the first was on the panel that I left the old copper foil on.  I had one joint where the solder just would not adhere to the copper foil, so there is a small gap between the corner solder bead and where two pieces of glass in the panel all meet.  Overall not a big deal, but I need to check if any light shines through.  The second was was adding a finish solder bead to the joint with the widest gap.  Even with a wire reinforcement on the inside, the solder still melted through very easily and dripped out, or cooled too rapidly (I think?) and I ended up with a weird texture on the surface of the solder, instead of it looking smooth and shiny.  If anyone has any tips for avoiding this issue (other than to just get better at sizing panels to fit together with less crazy gaps, clearly…), please post them below!  I ended up using an old orange box as a make-shift prop to keep the edges level and the solder bead sitting in the centre of the corner.

Using an orange box as a prop

Overall, I think the solder worked out ok.  I am still going to add a piece of wire along the bottom edge, and I’ll try another attempt at touching up the bad texture solder joint.  I don’t think this is my finest solder work, but I think I’m having some issues with my soldering iron set-up, so I’ll play around with that as well.  However, the point of finishing my older project before taking on anything new is kind of two-fold for me: to get projects that I started three years ago finished and out of the way, and to serve as a set of practice projects before I start attempting to make items of saleable quality.  So I can just chalk this one up to practice, at the very least.  At the most/best, I will have a new light box that I can take to work, use at home or gift to someone, and that’s not too shabby!

Finished soldered edges and corner

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Send In the Reinforcements

In my recent post about my green and grey light box project, I got to the point of having the panels spot-soldered soldered together and in a basic 3D form.  This post, I’m going to talk about my use of reinforcing wire in my projects, as that’s the next step for my light box project.  

Using reinforcement is something that I’ve started doing in my work partly from functional necessity and partly for aesthetics, although really the aesthetic aspect also adds function regardless.  The first lamp I added reinforcements to was the hanging lamp I designed and built for my mom.  I wanted some additional structure on the inside so that all the long strips would stay together and not pull apart (that’s a lot of straight lines).  I also wanted to add a wire reinforcement at the top and bottom edges to keep it in a circular shape.  There are four “circles” of support wire in this lamp: two at the top and bottom edges, and two that snake along (approximately) the top and bottom of the coloured squares, soldered to the inside of the lamp.

Lamp with Little Squares

The second lamp I used reinforcements in was the table lamp I built for my sweetheart. I needed to add a support that allowed me to add bulk and structure to the edges of the squares, as they didn’t fit perfectly together and I wasn’t keen on overlapping the edges very much — I wanted the corners to meet somewhat evenly.  I used reinforcing wire along the corner edges, sunken into the finish solder.  I also wanted to add some bulk to the finished edge at the top, instead of having a really flat, sharp edge.  So I used wire here too (wire everywhere!) to provide something to which I could adhere more solder and create a built up edge bead.

Prairie Gold Table Lamp

Since then, I’ve seen a few projects that have come back to me squished or broken, and have started incorporating wire into my smaller sun catchers (I’ve put support wire into these projects here and here).  They feel sturdier, and at least I know that someone really had to try hard to squish it if they return a project to me for repairs later!!

So that’s what’s up next.  I’m going to use a similar approach as the one I described for the table lamp above, but probably with a few extra pieces and some thinking about how to use longer pieces and bend them.  I’ll share an update and photos this weekend!

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Music Tuesday

This week I’ve really been on a Bonobo kick.  I love the soft electronic style.  The interesting sounds and beats combine into something that is great to work to – uplifting and moving but without really being in your face.  According to the internets, his style could be classified as lounge, ambient or cinematic, but regardless there is something that really hooks me in it.  I think it’s the layered sounds and solid bassline. I’m a sucker for a baseline.

The album I’ve been playing on repeat (over and over) this week is Black Sands.  I think my favourite song on it is The Keeper:

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Bonobo has a new album due out at the beginning of April and I’m excited.  You can check out the details, and the (amazing!) music video for the single, Cirrus, at the website here: http://www.bonobomusic.com/

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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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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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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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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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Making Waves

Marty and I are slowly getting our house set up, and one of the most exciting rooms in the new place is the spare bedroom, where I have grand plans for setting myself up a stained glass studio. Right now it’s holding all our ‘where do we put it?’ junk, so it’s a little crowded, but I did manage to get my tiny light table set up.  Now all I have to do is put the legs on the work table and get a drop cloth to go over the carpet and I’m ready to go!  Ok, so maybe it’s a little bit more set-up than that, but I’m close…

In my excitement for stained glass action, and also for summer, I wanted to share some inspiring stained glass waves.  I think the wave would be one of the more difficult images to capture well.  I can image getting all the aspects of the glass – the colour, texture, path of the lines – to come together and make the wave come alive and really portray the power and noise and motion and experience of a wave would be a complicated feat.  Hats off to the artists and their work below for really nailing the heart of waves in their stained glass pieces.

Jacqueline Winch Designs

This piece really captures the rolling curl of a wave collapsing over itself.  I love the subtle combination of clear, white and turquoise in this piece, and how the motion in the glass is really captured by the many textures.  I’ve seen the design done by other glass artists, but I really felt like this rendition of it picked up the motion and carried it all the way around the circular frame.  To see more of Jacqueline Winch’s work, visit her website here.

Atmospheric Glass

I really love the delicate lines of the wave in this piece.  The edges of each individual piece of glass in this window are so organic, as if the artist has merely drawn each line instead of cut and soldered them.  I think the colours are bold and give the viewer a clear definition of what is wave and what is background, and abstracts the motion of the wave into a ribbon of flowing movement.  The clear grid of glass for the ground really works and complements and contrasts the organic line and colour of the rest of this work.  See more of Atmospheric Glass here.

Mary Tantillo

Mary’s stained glass is organic, considered and – in a word – stunning.  This piece reminds me of waves, ocean eddies and seaweed all wrapped into one gorgeous image.  The differing and changing weight of each solder line creates a tension that pulls the viewer along each line toward the centre.  The colours flow from one to the next, and I love that the swirling lines intersect and support one another, creating very interesting opportunities for contrast through colour blocking.  I’ve seen all these colours in the ocean, and they all remind of me each memory – ‘that time swimming over the sand dollars’ or ‘that storm we had in November’ or ‘that summer we built the raft’…  In addition to this amazing work, Mary has also done a 100 Days of Waves project, which can be seen on her website here.

I have to say, my inspiration energy is running high after these lovely images.  I’ll be back to post more inspiration again soon, and will have details of upcoming projects as I start working again…  Can’t wait!

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