I just thought I would take a few minutes and give you all a little bit of an insight of my life as a stained glass artist. When I finished typing this I re-realised quite how much work it takes to create the stained glass pieces I offer for sale.
First up I need glass! LOTS of glass!
This is a photo of my glass stash last year. It’s increased since then and remember this is just the glass! In addition to all this I have all the rolls of wire, the copper foil, the beads, the trimmings and ribbons, all the tools and equipment I need, some which have taken over a part of my kitchen (oops!), to name just a few items…
Plus on top of all that I also have all my jewellery making supplies.. I have a beautiful bead collection now, sterling silver, silver plated, copper and coloured plated wire and findings, plus another full compliment of jewellery making tools, various bits of equipment..
Oh and my ever increasing book collection!
My work space is getting a little crowded now!
Most of my stained glass creations start out as a flat piece of coloured glass before I set to it with my trusty Sharpie marker pens, black for light coloured glass and the silver ones for the darker colour glass as it shows up so much better! I draw my designs on the glass and then move onto the next stage, cutting and breaking the glass.
A sheet of my amber gold stained glass
A steady hand is essential for this part but if I have a bit of a ‘oops’ moment I have my glass grinder to hand to smooth any parts which aren’t quite right. All of my stained glass stars make a trip to the glass grinder to be smoothed to perfection as I really can’t have stained glass stars with nasty edges as they wouldn’t look right.
The next stage is to apply the copper foil to the stained glass shapes and then this has to be ‘burnished’ which basically means it gets ‘squished’ onto the glass so it sticks properly and is nice and smooth. Next up flux is applied to all the copper foiled edges as this makes the solder stick to the copper.
Then things get HOT HOT HOT! Time to ‘tin’ the copper foiled edges. Tinning is when I apply a thin layer of solder to the front, back and sides of the foiled glass piece. (NOTE TO SELF – if the soldering iron slips it is NOT a good idea to try and grab it! Nasty burns can ensure as a result of this!). Next up the pieces of tinned glass are put into their final positions and soldered together to create the design I have in mind. I’m a bit picky about soldering and love to see a beautifully smooth piece of solder work. My birthstone pieces have all their wire decorations added here so I can join the pieces with my beaded links later on. Once this is done and the piece has cooled down we move onto the next stage.
A trip to the kitchen is next (normally via the kettle!) and all the pieces of glass work are washed in warm water with a splash of Fairy Liquid to remove any traces of flux. I also wipe all my solder lines over with some fine wire wool to remove any ‘spotting’ or marks caused when the flux and solder mix. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my solderwork to look all shiny and polished when a piece is finished and so a few minutes with the wire wool sorts that out for me. If I am applying a coloured patina to my glasswork, as you can see on some of my terrariums and Air Plant Holders, the piece is dried before I ‘paint’ on the patina and the piece is washed again carefully.
A black patina applied to a white stained glass Rennie Mackintosh style rose suncatcher.
The next stage is polishing the piece and for that it is back into the living room and a damp foam sponge is used to apply a stained glass polish and cleaner. This is then wiped off and the piece is polished with a soft cloth (read soft tea towels from Wilkisons purchased just for glass polishing!)
The next stage (yes there is more!) is for me to add any ‘extras’ to the piece. As you can see by browsing my shop many of my pieces are hung from silver plated chains or ribbons, these are added at this stage. Some of my other pieces, especially my birthstone pieces, are joined with beaded links. I make all of these by hand and I will occasionally spend an evening in front of the TV with my beads, wire and tools making little beaded links and the little wire loops to add to my stained glasswork so I have a bit of a stash tucked away.
The beaded wire links on a Sapphire birthstone suncatcher. In this case the links are genuine sapphire and crystal beads.
Now do you think I’m finished? Not yet!
The last stage is getting them from my work space to the ‘internet’. I take a series of photographs of all my pieces, select the best ones, crop them and make them ‘pretty’ before creating a listing on my website for the world to see.
Then and only then can I relax.. Or in my case get on with the next idea I have in mind