Saturday, March 2, 2013

March Already?

Close up of Laburnum shade
Oh, it's hard to believe it is March already.  I know most folks who live in the snow belt are probably breathing a big sigh of relief that we are now entering the final phase of winter, but as you may have guessed, I'm not one of them.  But then again, I'm weird. 

Winter is our time of rest from the garden, and of course, stained glass takes center stage just as soon as Christmas is over.  We did finally get the Pony Wisteria shade done a few days ago.  This one was started last winter, so it's about time, don't you think?

We start with the pattern-- this little shade is 870 pieces and there are three repeats of the pattern.  Joel had the pattern copied at a blueprint shop onto mylar, which is a plastic-like material that is not affected by water from the grinder.  I then take a hot knife and cut down the middle of the black line around each pattern piece, making little templates to glue to the art glass for cutting and grinding.

I had about seven sheets of beautiful blue Youghiogheny wisteria glass to choose from and though the pieces are so very tiny, it is nerve-wracking and exhilarating all at once to get the best blend of color possible.  I suppose it would be helpful if I'd ever seen a real wisteria up close and personal, but I have not.  I have to admit the same thing about the Laburnum shade which we had completed last winter, too; once again, I have never seen the actual flower so all I can do is hope it turned out looking like a 'real' laburnum.
1986 pieces of yellow, green, brown and blue glass

We started back up on the Wisteria in January and had it completely cut out and on the window for color appraisals by February.   I'm always, always, ALWAYS second-guessing myself on color selection, trust me, I drive the menfolks here nuts with my indecision.  When all is said and done, I have to make a decision or nothing will ever get accomplished.  Joel handles all the glass cutting and I try to stay ahead laying out the pattern so the job moves forward.  Carl and I take equal turns grinding and I do all the foiling. 

 In the photo above, the repeats are all laid out on clear window glass with poster putty holding each piece in place as I then check to see if my color choices are good, bad or indifferent.  I have the window propped up in our living room window on a February afternoon here.

Changing light conditions make a huge difference in the shading of the glass.  For this shade, I was going for a rich blue to purple slowly changing to a deep pink at the end of the clusters.
I look at it from all angles and obsess some more, making changes, removing some pieces and making new ones.  Then it's time to just trust what I've done is as good as it's going to get and move on to placing the glass on the form.

Glass illuminated by light bulb from underneath. Notice the difference in color from sunlight to the warm light bulb.
Different light sources bring out different colors in stained glass.  I prefer the whitest light possible for the shades we create because in my opinion, the daylight bulbs bring out the blues and pinks and purples much better than soft white bulbs.  However, many people do not like the harsher light cast by the daylight bulbs.  It's all a matter of preference.

Before we could put the glass on the fiberglass form for soldering, Carl had to fix a problem with the crown that the glass was to be soldered to.  As you can see from the picture below, the crown was crooked and needed straightening.  Carl had to put it in the lathe to straighten it.
Crooked top!
Chucked up in the lathe and ready to spin.


After a bit of time, he had it done.
Carl took on the job of putting the pieces of glass on the fiberglass form on a Sunday afternoon.  He coated the fiberglass form with melted beeswax and then removes each piece from the window and sticks it on the form.  We were able to take a time-lapse movie of the process which took about three and a half hours.

The soldering process is a long-drawn out one, around twenty hours more or less.  Carl generally does the soldering on all of our shades, though both Joel and I do solder occasionally.  Carl doesn't like to solder in the house due to the fumes generated, so he opted to solder outside in his big, unheated shop.  In the middle of winter!  He wears appropriate fume respirators while he works, but he could only solder for a few hours before the cold temperatures overtook him.   He did have a heat lamp overhead, but it was cold during that time period and soldering is a really sedentary activity.  Anytime you sit still in twenty degree temperatures (or less) the cold starts to get to you.  When he'd finally decided he couldn't take the cold anymore, he'd come in the house shivering and sit wrapped in a blanket, trying to defrost.

While Carl was soldering the Wisteria, I was at work on the next shade, the 20" Daffodil.   (More on that to come!)

As soon as the soldering on the outside was done, Carl brought the shade into the dining room and we took a heat gun and carefully heated up the glass until the beeswax melted and the shade came free from the form.  This is a really exciting time for us, the Moment of Truth.  We never can wait until the shade is cleaned up before we have to cram a light bulb in the bottom somehow and see how it turned out.

Still all covered in soldering paste and beeswax with the Magic Marker pattern numbers visible

In the pictures above, the lamp was actually upside down on the table with a light bulb sitting on top, but I rotated the pictures to have the lamp appear to be right side up.  I guess I forgot to mention why I made the background glass orange...this is supposed to mimic a sunset.

The next step was to solder the inside of the lamp which meant Carl had to go back out in the cold for another few nights after work to finish the process.  Poor guy! 

The last two pictures illustrate the differences in light bulbs and camera settings.  There is a big difference in the colors depending on what type of light is used.

After the soldering was complete, we could put the new shade on the base and take some more pictures.  We haven't gotten a really good picture of it yet as we're having some trouble finding 'the' right bulb to illuminate the shade.  The shade is tiny, only 10", and the light bulbs we had here wouldn't fit so we had to search out some smaller ones.  Unfortunately, we could only find the smaller bulbs in warm tones, so we're still on the prowl for possible LED lights in the 5000K range, which would be daylight. 
Here is the lamp lit with some really hot bulbs, we hope to find lower wattages in the daylight range soon.
So, there is the Pony Wisteria.  We haven't put a patina on the solder yet and I have to do some cleanup and detailing work on it yet, too.  But because winter is growing short, I went on to work on another shade, a daffodil, instead.  By tonight I should be done applying foil to the Daffodil and with any luck Carl will be back shivering in the shop again before the week is out. 

Here's a sneak preview of that project:
This shade just says SPRING to me! 
I'm debating whether to start one more shade before Spring or not; I'd like to make a full-size Wisteria.  But that's a big lamp, over 2000 pieces, but oh, so much fun.  I also need to make a stained glass window for the Castle Aaargh too, and have been bogged down in the planning process.  I've drawn all sorts of ideas out and haven't settled on one.  Carl said we could make several windows and change them out when we felt like it.  (But first we have to finish Aaargh..........)

And what else have I been doing when I'm not walking with Leslie, tossing weights around and doing stained glass?

Queen of the Hill?
Yep, skiing!  We've got lots of snow and I've had lots of fun with it.  I hate to see it melt.

But, as I said earlier, I'm weird.


Alison said...

Brrrrr!! Poor Carl. But the shade is just gorgeous. You chose the right color for the sunset background, it works perfectly with the blue flowers. The Laburnum shade is pretty too. I have seen Laburnums here, but never up close. I've never seen a Wisteria up close either. One of my neighbors has one, but I've only seen it from a long way away. Did you folks make the framed poppy/tulip/daffodil/iris combo that is hanging in one of your photos?

Heather said...

Fabulous shade! It is so nice to see someone else with as much snow as we have, and not letting it get them down (well, other than to the bottom of the hill, LOL!)... I also wanted to mention that a couple of posts back, you had some absolutely stunning shots of winter around your place.... beautiful! And I am amazed at the task you have taken on with your gardens! Cheers~

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

The laburnum shade is lovely, and I really love the wisteria shad. Those blues and purples. The little video was great showing Carl at work there. He's a brave soul to go sit out in his workshop in freezing temps.

I also love that wonderful stained glass panel you made with the spring flowers. It is happy!

You all are a wonderful team that work well together.

You look good there on your skis. It is in the high 40's feeling like the low 40's this morning. I do hope to get outside to putter today.

Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

El Gaucho said...

Much respect to Carl for braving freezing temps all in the name of art and stained glass. You and Carl and Joel are so dang impressive and I love reading about your exploits.

Betsy said...

What a beauty. I enjoyed watching the time lapsed video of it taking shape.
Had to be hard on the hands working in the cold soldering.

I am jealous of your snow, we want some and I would hate to see it melt too.
Happy Sunday

Pamela Gordon said...

Karen, these 2 lamps are absolutely gorgeous! Wow. What a lot of pieces and work. Almost like a pieced quilt but much more fragile. I also like your stained glass window hanging with the spring flowers on it. I see you still have lots of snow as we do. Enjoy!

Larry said...

I like ... exclamation exclamation Larry

Bonnie K said...

That lamp is amazing! You must be very patient. Thank you for sharing.

Beth said...

Your lamp is truly a thing of beauty! The colors are spectacular! Enjoyed seeing you on skis, too! Looks like you have a lot of snow (so do we)! Every season has its purpose and its beauty.
xo Beth

Gardens at Waters East said...

You have some really beautiful lamp shades, beautiful. I love the blues and the design. You are both very talented people. Thanks for sharing the photos. Jack

Rosemary said...

Beautiful lamp.... I am looking forward to spring...enough snow this winter...

Lana said...

The two of you are ultra talented. I cannot believe how detailed everything is with your stained glass work. And Carl's never-ending abilities are amazing!

You look marvelous darling!!!!

:-) Lana

Anonymous said...

Your work is so beautiful. I especially love your window hangings.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Wow, Karen! I am amazed at how you and Carl can create such beauty! I enjoyed the video and the photos.

Well, winter may stay your way longer, as long as it leaves us as soon as possible. I am longing for spring to get here. Have fun on those skis!

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Oh, and I love Carl's idea of you making different windows to change out. LOL You should share some of your ideas with us.