Stained Glass for the Thorsen Cabinet

Before it got too hot yesterday and I abandoned ship to go buy a new TV (and ultimately returned to the shop to knock together a kludge to hold the TV and related paraphernalia) I made a credible start on the stained glass for the door of the Thorsen Cabinet.

I started by setting up a wood frame to hold the two copper surrounds I made earlier.  The intent with the pattern board is to hold the two copper frames in orientation as they will be in the door, and to keep from springing the sides and messing up the fit.

Wood base set up, 3/4" MDF, and 1/8" hardboard strips to hold the copper frames in position

Wood base set up, 3/4″ MDF, and 1/8″ hardboard strips to hold the copper frames in position

I fit some paper into the wood frame, and started developing the pattern for the glass.  I traces the inside edge of the copper frame, then sketched the “cloud” design in pencil, tweaking it until I was happy with it, then I inked in with a fine point sharpie.

Pattern for the class developed

Pattern for the class developed

The process for cutting the glass is pretty simple in concept, score and snap, but the reality is that curves add complexity.  And the uneven texture of the glass gives it a mind of it’s own.  I cut the pieces of glass for the left side first, but got a crack in the big one.  That’s life, I bought extra expecting that nibbling out little pieces in a big sheet was going to be tricky.

First cuts on the textured, iridized clear.  Note the unfortunate crack on the bottom right.

First cuts on the textured, iridized clear. Note the unfortunate crack on the bottom right.

I really love this clear glass.  It has a few bubbles and an irregular hand-made appearance.  It’s “iridized”, which means it has a thin metallic coating that gives it a purplish cast.  Part of why this piece got away from me is that I scored it on the front instead of the back.  The back is smoother.  Also the glass needs to be well-supported when scoring, otherwise the pressure from scoring will start a crack.

Part of this errant crack is my fault...

Part of this errant crack is my fault…

So I ignored the bottom section and focused on finishing the top section first.  I used grozing pliers to snap off any little pieces that didn’t come off and the score, then I ground the edge so it was a slightly loose fit in the opening in the copper.

Top piece fit in the frame

Top piece fit in the frame

Then I laid it over my pattern and traced the cut lines for the cloud design.  I flipped the glass face down and scored it in stages.  First a straight or sweeping cut to get close to the layout line.  This can be snapped by hand or with “running pliers”.  I’ll have to do a separate post on the tools as I don’t have pictures handy.

Pattern traced onto the clear

Pattern traced onto the clear

First cut scored on the back of the glass.  Note that I tried to hit the high points and keep the sweep of the cut gentle

First cut scored on the back of the glass. Note that I tried to hit the high points and keep the sweep of the cut gentle

Once the first cut is snapped, I scored a service of shallow arcs into the inside curves.  These will be snapped off using the grozing pliers.  I’m not really very good at this, but it seems to work.  If I can get within a 1/16″ of my line I’m happy.

Cuts scored for the inside curves

Cuts scored for the inside curves

After snapping all the little bits, and repeating the cuts on the other end of this piece, I’m ready to take it to the glass grinder.

Cuts all made

Cuts all made

After grinding, it's not perfect relative to the original pattern, but it's close enough for this design

After grinding, it’s not perfect relative to the original pattern, but it’s close enough for this design

These are the three pieces of glass I got to use for the cloud shapes.  I’m starting out with the one on the bottom left, which is spear, white, pink and champagne.  I suspect I’ll make a few pieces in more than one color as I go through this and decide what looks best.   All of these have an iridized coating like the clear that I’m using.

Glass for the clouds

Glass for the clouds

Same process for the little pieces, with a slight twist.  Since the glass isn’t clear I have to use a light box to see the pattern through the glass.  I ink it onto the front of the glass, then flip the glass over on the light box and ink it onto the back.  The difference in color between the two sides is surprising.

Pattern traced onto the front of the colored glass

Pattern traced onto the front of the colored glass

...and then traced onto the back of the glass for scoring.

…and then traced onto the back of the glass for scoring.

I score and break from the back, and grind from the front.  I am aiming for a slightly loose fit between the pieces — not gaps (there will be some, and that’s OK) — but enough clearance for the copper foil that will wrap all the bits.  Without the lead boarder the design looks a little anemic at this point.  I’m also going to re-make one or two of the parts in different colors for more variety.  But this is where I left off before my son convinced me to stop so we could go TV shopping.

Parts cut and fit for the first panel.

Parts cut and fit for the first panel.

 

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One thought on “Stained Glass for the Thorsen Cabinet

  1. Pingback: Snap, Crackle, Pop | McGlynn on Making

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