I got some time in the shop yesterday and was able to finish the stained glass panel for the Byrdcliffe-inspired-but-Mission-styled cabinet I’m making.
I spent probably an hour fine tuning the fit of the pieces on the grinder, and ended up re-making one or two more pieces. I think it was time well spent because the finished panel cam out pretty nice I think. The process of assembling the panel goes like this: First the pieces need to be cleaned to remove any “Sharpie” layout lines or numbers and any residue from grinding. Then I put them on a hot plate (set on “low”) that is covered with a few layers of paper to warm up. This makes sure the parts are dry, but more importantly it makes the copper foil easier to apply. I used 7/32 foil for this, which seems to be a decent size for me. You can go a little narrower, but if you’re off a tiny bit in applying it then you end up with places where you don’t have foil on both sides of the glass.
Once the parts are all foiled I’m ready to solder the seams. I keep it in the frame I made at least until I’ve tacked all the parts together to hold the alignment. I use a special solid 60/40 solder that is made for stained glass work, and apply flus with a brush. It’s pretty simple work, although the technique is different than soldering electrical connections. In this case you apply the solder to the iron as you move the iron along the seam, and the goal is to apply enough so that you have a decorative bead. If the joint is fluxed and the copper foil is properly adhered the solder will flow easily.
I usually end up soldering the front, focusing on getting a good connection and an adequate amount of solder in place but not being overly concerned about the evenness of the beads. Then I flip it over and solder the back side trying to get really nice beads. The solder from the front will have pulled through already, but it won’t be complete, full beads. Finally I go back to the face side and re-run all of the seams, flowing in more solder as necessary to get even rounded beads. There are other techniques for the solder beads, and in fact there are books on “decorative soldering” where you can create textures or patterns in the solder. On the “Inglenook Sconce” I used a sponge on the molten solder to make an organic texture.
For this panel, before I did the final smoothing of the seams I added the zinc boarder. I wanted to get the border on first so the thickness of the seams at the edges didn’t interfere with the fit of the channel.
Once the panel was soldered I washed it with “flux remover” and soap and water to make sure all the flux was off. then I applied a chemical patina to darken the solder and washed it again. Finally it gets a coat of “glass polish” which appears to be about the same as thinned liquid car wax.
There are a few minor mistakes with the panel, but overall I’m happy with it. I checked the fit, and it is perfect for the door in the cabinet. If I can get some shop time in tonight I can probably finish the cabinet and hang it.