Y2K Glassworkers Tips


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If we use it we'll credit you here and send you a free pattern.


3/01 Preventing Hinge Seize 

11/2000 Garage Sale Glass Holder

10/2000 Mounting Panels in Curved Spaces

9/2000 Repair tips for came and foil work

8/2000 The Only Sure Fire Preventative for Mirror Black Edge

7/2000 Adding Computer Generated Text and Graphics to your work!

6/2000 Cleaning Grout Haze from Mosaics

5/2000 Prepare Now to Match Glass Later

4/2000 Preventing Soldering Cracks in "Problem Glasses"

3/2000 Avoiding "Lost Pieces" in Mosaic Stones

2/2000 Designing Lamps (Cont'd from 1/2000)

1/2000 Designing Lamps (and boxes too) -Cont'd from 9/99

12/99 A Third Hand

11/99 Preparing to Cut Glass

10/99 Holding 3-D Work for Soldering

8/99-9/99 Designing Lamps  - (This one is pretty long and took quite some work to put together so I thought it was fair as a two month tip!)

7/99 Dealing with Pits and Interrupted score lines

6/99 A third hand

5/99 A dialog on grinder OVERuse

4/99 Handy Iron Holder

3/99 Came carrier/storage container

2/99 Inexpensive glass rack

1/99 Protect your Patterns!

12/98 Plastic Patterns

11/98 Turning Panels Over Safely- (Addition to Techniques Discussed at the Help Desk)

10/98 Desoldering for Repairs in Flat Work

9/98 Hold Your Patterns with Glue Stick

8/98 The "Tiffany Whisper", or Don't Rely on the Adhesive

7/98 Hold Your Work with "Upholstered Bricks"

6/98 Antique Patina

5/98 Choosing the Right Lamp Base

4/98 Cutting Narrow Strips

3/98 Creating a Personal Sample Set

2/98 Creating Easy Assembly Jigs for Curved or Irregular Shaped Panels

1/98 Finishing Touches for Frames

12/97 Preventing Grinder Head "Lockup"

11/97 Create a Color Reference Collection

10/97 Make foiling easier on the eyes

9/97 A Neat Variation for Zinc Frames

8/97 Framing panels with Wood Frame Stock or Rigid Came

7/97 Contributor Quick Tips: Hinge Help and Reviving Old Foil

6/97 No-Spill Flux Holder

5/97 Adjustable Fit For Easy Installations

4/97 Cutting a "V" Notch Without a Band Saw

3/97 Glass Cleaner

2/97 A Few Notes on Selecting and Matching Glass

1/97 Reusable Patterns

12/96 Sal Ammoniac / Sal Ammoniac Water?!

11/96 Organizing Scrap Glass

10/96 Fixing Foil Splits

9/96 Preventing Foil Splits

8/96 Adjusting Fit

7/96 Try Cutting Glass on a Plexiglas Surface (Cutting Circles)

6/96 Straight Cutting Against a Ruler

5/96 Preventing Solder Run Throughs

4/96 Special Foil Applications

3/96 Use of Glass "Grain"

2/96 Choosing your foil size



11/2000 Garage Sale Glass Holder

Our thanks to Susan Winning for our November tip

Only some of your readers will be able to remember this type of glass holder, now I am not dating myself as I am a YOUNG artist. (HA HA HA)

When you go to garage sales look for the old LP record holders, well you must remember the single ones that sat on your record stand. 
The one that is the best is the 3 leveled one, it can hold up to 150 pieces of glass. You can also find a desk top model, just for scraps. (Up here in Canada, they range from $5.00 to $15.00 "eh!!")
The three tiered one stands on the floor and has 3 single ones welded to frames on the outside. I have several that I have picked up along the way and they are great.

Susan Winning


10/2000 Mounting Panels in Curved Spaces

Our thanks to Lucille Hubbell for our October tip

"Framing and Mounting finished work"... The larger lumber yards carry a plastic molding that comes in various colors and widths that is easily bent around arches and gives a very nice, finished-look to your work. 
It is easy to cut and install and gives the look of being professionally finished. The one good tip that a lot of people don't know, even some carpenters, is to pre-drill small holes where the nails go. This helps to make the nailing go a little easier and neater. This tip also keeps wood molding from splitting on you if it is a thin molding. 

Lucille Hubbell



9/2000 Repair tips for came and foil work

Our thanks to Chris "Gonzo" Gonzalez for our September tip.
Chief Designer
Classic Glass, Inc.

"Repair work...ug! We all hate de-soldering things in order to fix them and if
the piece happens to be sealed the smell gets pretty annoying...not to mention
all that corrosion on the soldering iron tip and the requisite sal-amoniac
cleaning and smoke produced thereby AND all that splashing solder on the floor
can ruin some shoes and pants. 

My tip for de-soldering things.....DON'T!!! You have lead dykes (nippers)
right? Use them. For lead projects what I do is snip all the lead surrounding
a piece at the joints on the top being only somewhat careful to leave the rest
of the joint intact because I will be re-soldering it anyways. Next, since I
use a set of nippers with an angled head I snip off the crown of the whole
piece of lead, turn it over, and if it doesn't just fall out a light tug will
do the job, this is common in sealed pieces. Also, light pressure on the
bottom of the glass will force the piece upwards and free. If it still won't
come out, I then turn the piece over and repeat this process and use a nail or
something skinny to push the heart through.

The only thing that I ever actually de-solder are the zinc-to-zinc soldered
joints (the four corners of a window, for example), unless there is sufficient
enough of a gap to use the nippers. My last resort is to break out the iron
and start heating things up and if this just HAS to be done, I turn up the
heat as high as it will go and just melt the whole darn piece of lead until it
drips through, because by this time it's personal :) 
If the piece was sealed, I use an X-acto knife to scrape off sealer from the 
neighbors and re-lead them first. Re-cut the piece, replace, re-solder and, if 
need be, reseal. For a broken piece that's in the middle of a project this is 
especially handy. The re-leading part is a "lil" tricky though unless you cut 
off the crown from one side then replace the lead then replace the crown and 
re-solder. Structural integrity might be compromised unless you seal the piece in, 
especially for large projects.

For de-soldering foiled projects, I first snip the joints around a piece then
snip off the solder bead and foil from the top and bottom sides. (NOTE: this
removes foil from a piece that will be remaining in place, but if I had used
heat the foil would have curled up anyways, and thus need to be re-foiled along
that edge.) Light pressure applied to the piece will set it free but care
must be taken so as not to pull up too much foil from other pieces. Next, I
cut off any remaining foil stuck to the piece and it's neighbors with an X-
acto knife, clean off the adhesive goo from the neighbors and re-foil that edge
first. Re-cut the piece, re-foil, replace it, re-solder it.

I hope that this lil tip helps you all and, at the very minimum, saves you
from a lot of frustration. In practical terms of time and speed, this method
actually saves me a lot of time. Try it for yourself and see. Plus you will
save your iron from corrosion, your lungs from the dreaded sal ammoniac smoke,
your nose from the awful smell of burning sealer or foil, and your shoes from
becoming solder blobs. 

Chris "Gonzo" Gonzalez



8/2000 The Only Sure Fire Preventative for Mirror Black Edge

You've tried lacquer, edge sealants, what have you, but sometimes you still see your mirror projects go bad.  Kind of makes you leery about making mirrors at all.  

There is however a way to make mirrors without worrying about the dreaded black edge.  I call it frame overlay.  Put quite simply, the mirror is placed behind the mirror frame.  The frame overlaps the edge of the mirror by a half inch or more so that if the edge turns black the blackened part will be obscured by the frame.  In fact, you'll never even know that it has happened.

Just expand the pattern for the mirror a half inch or more on each side so that it will be larger than the visible mirror in the project.  Assemble the frame separately from the mirror making sure to carefully dress the inside edges of the frame (the hole through which the mirror shows) with either a strong solder bead or a flexible brass banding.

Apply a brass channel to the edges of the mirror as well, then solder the brass channel of the mirror to each solder line on the back of the frame to hold it in place.  

You can use copper foil around the mirror instead of the brass channel but if you do be sure that you make bulky solder joints that lap up over the mirror back, (I call them "solder hands") so that the mirror is held on by solder, not just copper foil.

I still prepare my mirror in order to protect it some by cleaning the edges with alcohol, covering the back with contact paper to prevent scratches through the backing and when I use foil I seal it tightly against the contact paper to prevent flux from penetrating.




7/2000 Adding Computer Generated Text and Graphics to your work!

We often get requests for personalized items.  Until recently the options were limited, we could paint and kiln fire an inscription with glass stainers' colors or etch one on with acid or a sandblaster.

Well, a couple of months ago the request came again and this time budget was a big concern to the customer.  We had to get a name on the face of a clock without breaking the bank.  After a bit of thought a plan emerged.

We used special transparency film for our inkjet printer.  It is a clear plastic sheet of printer paper sold for making transparencies for use on an overhead projector.

 We cut our piece that was to be inscribed from white opalescent glass.  Next we printed the inscription on the clear plastic and cut the plastic to the same shape as the piece. On top of that we placed a sheet of thin window glass cut to the same shape, foiled the whole thing together with wide foil and used it like any other piece of glass in our clock.

Be sure to burnish the foil really tightly so flux and water will not get in.  (Use flux sparingly so as to minimize the risk.)  You can also use the tiniest amount of silicone caulk or clear glue around the edges before you foil to make the sandwich water tight.

Using this technique you can add text or full color graphics to your work.


6/2000 Cleaning Grout Haze from Mosaics

Our Thanks to Jennifer McEachin for our June tip!

When I first started doing mosaics I was told to get a haze cleaner from my local hardware store to clean the grout haze off of my glass. 
I made one piece which had large pieces of black glass. I scrubbed and
scrubbed with the heavy duty haze cleaner. I then had an idea. I went in the bathroom, grabbed a bottle of "The Works" and sprayed a little bit on a rag. I rubbed this against my glass - viola instant clean
Take care when using this tub cleaner. Make sure to wear gloves and have adequate ventilation. The fumes are very strong!!

Jennifer McEachin


5/2000 Prepare Now to Match Glass Later

Our Thanks to Mary Torbett for our May tip!

I just learned the hard way the importance of marking & saving scraps from
"special projects.  For Christmas I made each one of my kids a lamp. My
daughter in Ohio just put her wish list in for Christmas this next year.  A
lamp to match the one I made her last Christmas.  

I can't remember which glasses I used and since we live several hours apart identifying the glass will be a major problem.  Now when I finish most projects I take pieces of
glass, label them, and file them in those plastic shoeboxes.  This will
not guarantee that you can match the glass, but will give you a better
chance, also the scrap pieces may be needed at some time for a repair.  When I
file the glass I do it by name of project and in some cases who it was for,
making identification a lot easier. 

Mary Torbett


4/2000 Preventing Soldering Cracks in "Problem Glasses"

Every once in awhile you get hold of some glass that wasn't properly annealed by the maker or for some other reason just seems to crack way too often when you are soldering.  Here are a couple of things you can do to ease the pain of working with problem glass.

First be sure that it is not your equipment.  If you are working with a bad or extremely dirty soldering tip the chances of cracking glass go way up.

Next, if you are not working with a temperature control on your iron you should be.  Some glasses just can't take the full heat of your iron.  (There are plenty of other reasons you should be using one, but that's another issue.)

If you've been doing everything else right but this glass is special, here are a a few more steps you can take.

1)  Pre-heat your glass.  Use a portable heater or put your glass directly beneath or on top of a hot lamp or even put it into a slightly warm oven.  Don't get it so hot that you can't touch it but the warmer it is the less chance there is that the iron will create a localized expansion that will cause it to crack. 

Be careful that your heat source is fairly even across the entire piece of glass.  If you place a large sheet over a small lamp that heats only the middle the glass will likely split in two.

2)  Once pre-heated flash pre-tin each piece before soldering.  Flux the foil and as quickly as possible slide your iron around all of the copper edges to coat them with solder.  This will minimize the amount of heat and time it will take to run a nice bead later and also will continue the pre-heating process.

3)  If you've been working with 50/50 solder switch to 60/40 or even 63/37 for this one and turn the temperature control down accordingly.

4)  Resist temptation.  Sure, it's just one little bump in the line.  Leave it there and work somewhere else on the piece while your first pass at soldering cools down a bit.  Come back to it later and don't forget to add more flux.  Also be sure that you clean up any bits of foil adhesive that are interfering with the solder flow using a knife point or paper towel.  Ordinarily you can scrub these things away with a hot iron but here that would just be begging for trouble.

5)  Be sure that you work with the corner of the iron, not the flat side so that the iron never directly touches the glass, just the foil.  Also do not add so much solder that it bulges over the foil onto the glass.



3/2000 Avoiding "Lost Pieces" in Mosaic Stones

Ever pour a mosaic stone and find that some of the pieces have disappeared?  

One cause of this problem occurs when you move the stone before the crete has set up.  Crete is heavy and even the thickest and best forms will bend if you lift them up with all that weight inside.  Even though the bottom of the form will bend the glass inside is rigid and cannot. That means that there will be a space created between the glass and the form, and guess what.....Something has to rush in to fill the space and well, what else is there around the glass to do the rushing? Nothin' but crete.  

When preparing to pour a mosaic garden stone set your form on a RIGID board like 1/2" or thicker plywood.  Make the board a few inches larger than the form.  If for any you need to move the form before the stone has set you can easily move on the board.  

The board also comes in handy if your tables are not perfectly level.  You can shim the board up a little at a time until the crete surface is even all the way around the form sides.  Tap on it a bit after each adjustment to help adjust the level of the crete.  You can even set a level on the board to check for level if you want.



2/2000 Designing Lamps  (Cont'd from 1/2000)

 Now it is time to talk just a bit about adding design to the panels of your lamp.  

Some of my favorite lamp designs are not repetitive designs where every panel is identical but organic designs that flow around the lamp from panel to panel.  Unfortunately many beginners fall into a trap in trying to create this type of design.   They spend a lot of time drawing everything up just the way they want it.  Cut and foil all the glass, solder the panels and put the lamp together but the design does not flow properly from one to the next.

What went wrong?  Simple.  They designed the lamp in the flat. In other words they laid the pattern paper for all the panels side by side on the table and drew a design that just went straight from one panel to the next.  

In reality, when you turn this design into a lamp the panels that were touching each other are going to end up at least a good 3/16" apart.  

Why is this?  Because the glass itself is about 1/8" thick.  When you put the lamp panels in the proper position they touch each other on the inside of the lamp only, the top or outside surface of each panel is held away from the adjacent panel by the thickness of the panel itself. 

If you are having a hard time visualizing this take two straight pieces of glass and tape closely together them on the back side with some masking tape.  Now stand them up and bent the taped seam much the way panels in a lamp would be positioned.  The back where the tape is still touches but the front surfaces of the two pieces are moving away from each other!

Take this to the next level by drawing a picture on the glass before you bend the pieces apart.  Draw something that is not symmetrical, even a simple diagonal line will do the trick.  Now as you bend the pieces and the surfaces separate you will see that the line visually goes our of kilter.  So that's why the flower stem in that last lamp or box didn't line up!

Ah, but what to do about it?  Well, tape up a couple of pieces of glass up just like our test case before you start you project.  Set them at the approximate angle your panels will be at in the lamp and measure how far apart the seam spreads.  Now before you draw the design onto them separate the panels patterns by the measured amount before you start to draw. Draw the design right across the spaces between the panels and then throw away whatever was drawn in the spaces.  

Now everything in your lamp or box will line up.


1/2000 Designing Lamps  (Cont'd from 9/99)

Last time around we covered the mathematical basics of designing a single tiered panel lamp  similar the the illustration below.

The next logical step in panel lamp development is the addition of a second tier of glass in the form of a skirt.

The addition of a skirt is pretty straight forward. The width at the bottom of your top panels is the correct width to use for the skirt panels.  They will butt against the top panels and the adjacent skirt panels along the inside edge of the glass.

Skirt panels can be shallow for a light, petit look or deep to create a more substantial lamp.  Make them really long and you wind up with a lantern.

The bottoms of the skirt panels can be straight across or you can give your lamp a scalloped or irregular edge.  -------Sometime soon 3 tiered lamps