Monday, April 1, 2013

Daffodils, At Last!

Fresh off the form and in need of a bath.
By the time I get done writing this post, it will be April 1.  Oh, boy.  April is one of those months that absolutely speeds by for me.  We have snow on the ground yet, oodles of it.   In eight weeks I should be planting my annual flowers in the ground. Oh boy, yet again!  I am getting a bit nervous, and I think this week we will have to get a tractor out and plow a trail through the 4' deep drifts to the shed where the greenhouse is stored.  I really should have some of my seeds started by now.

The snow is melting, but it's rather drab out there. 
March 30.  Yep, lots of snow and NO I didn't get the Christmas deer put away yet, either.

And since we still have so much snow, there are definitely no daffodils in sight, either, though there are a few popping up next to the house foundation on the south side. 

So, since there's no daffodils outside to talk about yet we'll have to be satisfied with indoor daffodils, as in the Tiffany reproduction 'Daffodil' lampshade we just finished this weekend.

Carl labeling the repeats in early February.  We use old house windows to hold the copies.
The Daffodil shade has six repeats, meaning there is one pattern which is cut out of glass six times to go all the way around the 20" shade.  Joel had six copies made of Mylar at a blueprint shop and I used a hot knife to cut the lines around each of the 684 pieces.   With six repeats, it is important to keep each individual one labelled so we can tell them all apart after the glass is cut and ground and the patterns are removed.  For this lamp we used dots dashes and finally, numbers (I'm not sure why we didn't use numbers in the first place) to keep all the pieces straight. 
Window pattern for petals
As usual, I used the 'window system' and made paper copies of the pattern, cutting out each of the flowers making a template to lay over the stained glass so I could locate the best shading for each part of the design.  I lay the pattern on the glass and after I find the area I want to use, I take the Mylar pattern piece, and glue it to the glass for cutting.  Then I move on to the next piece.  The idea is to make the flowers look as real as possible.  (If I'm lucky.)
Petals, we have petals, we have lots and lots of petals.
I had precious little glass to work with for this shade and was worried it wouldn't all come out of this one sheet of glass, but I was lucky.  This is gorgeous mottled Uroboros glass in two shades of yellow and white.
Paper template of the leaves and stems.
I dawdle around for what seems like days before I decide on what colors to use for a new lamp.  We don't have an unlimited glass supply, so in the end, I have to work with what we have.  For those of you who sew, I'm sure you can relate to the feeling.......I have a few pieces of fabric I just adore in my stash, but I'm afraid to make anything out of it for fear the pattern won't be worthy of the fabric, so the fabric sits on the shelf, waiting for the Right Project. 

Our stained glass stash is far dearer to me than any of my fabric so this makes glass selection even more fraught with anxiety.  Good stained glass is hard for us to get and very expensive, not to mention the time involved in the labor of actually making the shade. If my color choices aren't good, the end result is an ugly lamp.  And, not to cast blame, but it would be All My Fault.  No pressure. 

The section I colored is one repeat.  I always do this with every pattern and use it like a road map and to help envision the look we're trying for. 
I hunt and peck around on the glass, looking for nice green stems in varying shades of green mottles.  There are a lot of leaves in this design.
Uroboros glass in two shades of green with yellow.

 I have to remember to leave enough room to cut the glass shapes out, too.  Sometimes I'm very guilty of putting pieces too close together which makes for nerve-wracking glass cutting.  Luckily, Joel is very good at what he does. 
Nothing left to lay out here but background and borders.
As the glass is laid out with the Mylar pieces, the pattern templates get emptier and emptier. 

Uroboros blue and green mottle for background.
Here I've got the window template for the background laid out on the glass as I try to figure out where I want the colors to be in the finished shade.  I wanted the green areas in the background glass to 'color bleed' into the stem and leaf areas and then turn to the darker cobalt blue nearest to the daffodil flowers and the border.  The idea was to give the impression of more foliage and sky in the distance.
The daffodil flower centers were a fun challenge.  I wanted to make each daffodil appear to have a cup in the middle instead of just an orange blob.  Luckily I had a wonderful piece of Oceana glass which was heavily mottled and just enough to get some very nice centers.
One center down, twenty-three more to find.
Cutting table.  
We all take turns cutting; but on this lamp Joel was able to handle almost all of it as he had the time.  I did cut a few pieces, though.  (Like five or so.)
After the pieces are cut, they are taken to the glass grinder and each one has the rough edges removed.  I ground every one of them on this job.

I got a kick out of stacking them all up like cookies.  (Yeah, I'm a bit obsessed with cookies yet, can you tell?)

 After each piece is ground, the Mylar pattern piece is peeled off and the glue is washed off.  Then I dry them and label with a permanent marker by pattern piece and repeat number.

All labeled and ready for foiling.

Look it's a crude daffodil!  Can you see the dots on each piece denoting the repeat number?
Applying copper foil to each piece.
I love to foil, and this lamp was a joy.  The pieces were so much bigger than the last two shades we've built; the Laburnum had 1,986 teensy pieces and the Pony Wisteria had almost 900, some no bigger than my pinkie fingernail, so this job with it's big, beefy leaves and petals was a hoot.
Once I had the foiling done it was time to lay out each piece of glass on the light table and see if what I'd selected worked or not.  I always foil first which is not the way most stained glass artists prefer to do it.   Most artists prefer to check their color selections first, then place the glass on the lamp form for fit and then take each one back off the form one at a time and foil.   I admit to doing things Bass Ackwards, but hey, to each his own.  By foiling whenever I have the time, I have been known to take it with me to doctor's appointments and when I go visiting friends and we're chatting, like knitting.  I love to watch TV and foil, it's very relaxing.  I'll usually lay out glass for a few hours, then cut and when I get tired of that, grind for awhile.  I do most of my foiling at night while watching TV. 

A big glass jigsaw puzzle.  Find the right repeat.
We bought a glass-top table at Goodwill for $12 and it works great for laying out the finished repeats.

 The design keeps filling in as I get more foiling done.
Just a few left to do.  

Then comes the moment of truth.  Let's turn on the lights and take the paper pattern off the back of the glass table. 
Whoa, this is one LOUD lamp.
We stare at it from all angles. and decided we had a few pieces to recut, but only a few. 

The center mottles on the daffodils worked out pretty well.

Time to transfer the pattern to the form.
I didn't take any photos of the lamp on the form before soldering.  Carl handles that job by himself, and my hat is off to him, he's good at it.  Keeping the borders nice and straight and everything even would drive me batty.  By the time he was soldering this shade, I was hard at work on the Big Wisteria which we started in mid-March.  Carl had to wait until the snow melted enough so he could get his shop door open since he once again opted to solder out there, in the cold.  He said it wasn't so bad this time as it was in January when he soldered the Pony Wisteria, but he still came in shivering uncontrollably after three or four hours of sitting on an upside down five gallon pail despite having a heater running.
Please Release Me, Let Me Go
After hours of soldering, Carl was finally done with the outside of the shade this past week.  Joel was home and helped with taking the glass off the form.  Carl was using a heat gun and spinning the lamp around rapidly, trying to heat the glass enough to melt the beeswax securing it to the form.  Joel was mopping up the wax as it started to melt and the five gallon pail was there to catch the lamp in case it released from the mold without anyone catching it.  
Around and around we go, and when it releases, nobody knows.  These lamps are built using the 'Odyssey' system; the forms are fiberglass and can stand up to the heat of a soldering iron with no damage.  But you have to be careful not to overheat the glass, which can crack.  Sometimes you have to take a mental health break, turn off the heat gun and just breathe during this process. 
After about ten minutes, the wax melted and there you have it, a brand new, gooey and sticky shade, which now has to have reinforcing wires applied and be completely soldered on the inside.  Carl will have to adjourn to his solitary shop a few more times for at least another twelve hours total.  

But first we have to take some preliminary photos of the not-clean lamp:
Don't worry, the numbers will wash off.  
Carl, surveying where the reinforcing wires will go on the inside.
Carl finished soldering the shade on Saturday night.  It's still in need of a complete cleaning, which entails dental picks and scrubbing and more scrubbing and finally a patina will be applied to the solder to darken it.  

  I will admit, my color choices are a bit bright, maybe way too bright for some folk's tastes, but Joel says he likes this one the most so far.  That's good, because they are heirlooms.

Good thing we have long winters.  Both of these were built in 2012-13.
 Our temperatures are predicted to be a bit below normal for the coming week, but the snow is melting gradually.  Mother Nature is taking her good, sweet time delivering daffodils this year, but that's fine with me.  We can wait. 

They'll be here real soon.


Sandy said...

I am impressed beyond words.. your
new lamp shades are just amazing.
The work that go's into just one
is something I just can't imagine.
Simply beautifll!
Now for the snow, it's been a long
winter there I'm seeing and yes,
time to get out in the green house
to start those seeds.
I'm happy to say I've been out in the
yard all this past week and getting
it into shape. Our winters are so
calm compared to yours.
Happy April! The start of the new
year in my book.

Zoey said...

What an amazing process that is! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how it's done step by step.

When I read the header, I wondered how you could possibly have daffs already in bloom! I had to head right over to see. :)

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Karen, these lamps are so beautiful. I am a big fan of stained glass and even had feature windows made for my home when we moved in. Everything is coming up very slowly around here also, some early daffodils poking through.


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Dear Karen ~ It was wonderful seeing this beautiful work in progress. I think it turned out just fantastic. What nerve wracking work. :-) You guys certainly work great as a team.

I love both of those. The wisteria would make a beautiful bedroom lamp.

Love and hugs to you all,

P.S. I love your header picture.

Heather said...

Your lamps are beautiful, but I have to admit, reading your post wanted me to drag out my stained glass supplied and make something!!! ...may this summer?? We still have snow here too, so you are in good company! Cheers~

Lona said...

Oh I love the bright colors Karen. It turned out so beautiful. SO much tedious work in making them. Not for the faint of heart.LOL

Alison said...

I continue to be amazed at how much work these lampshades are, and how good you folks are at putting them together. I have to admit, I love that wisteria shade, especially after seeing it in the photo above next to the daffodils (which is also pretty). That wisteria shade just looks like each flower is swinging free, like a real one.

Anonymous said...

Very beautiful, love the daffodils, Karen. Stained glass is such a great hobby (or job) to have for those snowy days - now into Spring. We had snow today and more for the weekend to come. I did not do any stained glass pieces this winter since I was traveling and also having health issues, but I did a few fused glass necklaces. So at least I was up to some crafting.

Larry said...

Hi Karen, Carl, and Joe... the daffodil looks great! I did mine a few years ago and was never terribly pleased with the shade until I recently got a new Odyssey ribbed base for it... what a difference a base can make and I really am pleased with mine now! I'm trying to finish up a 24" original design before gardening starts... it's on the hydrangea form. Doubt that I will make it any time soon as things are getting very busy around here and that will only multiply as the next few weeks go on. In addition to glass projects, I'm restoring the kitchen with some changes... one of which is new windows on the north with the 16" tulip hanging on one side and the 16" banded daffodil on the other... the latter shade isn't started yet and I redid the wiring today... we'll probably have to live with a hanging light bulb for awhile!

I ordered seeds last week... swore I wasn't going to... oh well. Right now I'm trying to reorganize my wood shop to hold a couple thousand plants under lights as it's just too cold to open up the greenhouse yet... I'm thinking the week of April 15 I'll do that and hope to get a start on planting this evening.

I'd like to say all these projects keep us young but I'm not so sure... the reason I'm taking a few moments off right now is to let a pain pill kick in. The arthritis will be with us whether we stay active or not, so I guess I might as well keep on keeping on!

Again... your daffodil is very impressive...and by the way... how do I convince Sarah to join me in the glass process... it must be wonderful to all work so well together! Actually I suspect that if she had any free time at all, she probably would join me... I'm just glad for all her help in the gardens and appreciate her very much as she works very long hours teaching and with her bookkeeping job.
Take care...

Junebug said...

I am in aw! I love the daffodil lamp! I admire all of your talent for that lamp is my favorite one! I love daffodils and I have many varieties blooming. I was able to have a nice bouquet for the dinning table. Wow, wow again!!!

africanaussie said...

You certainly do make the most of each season. Creating beauty in both seasons. Your lamps are amazing and so are your summer gardens.

Peonies & Magnolias said...

I totally agree with everyone, y'all do create magnificent beauty during all the seasons. I do love visiting your summer gardens to see everything you do and get new ideas for mine. I absolutely love the fact that you broke down your process for creating these gorgeous lamps. Hope you have a great week.


HolleyGarden said...

Amazing. Just amazing, Karen. You make it all seem so easy, but I can't imagine all the detail and time and craftsmanship that go into each and every piece. Your lamps are truly masterpieces, and I love the daffodil shade! I love how you chose the glass to give cups to the daffodils, and the shading of green to cobalt on the background. I think you have outdone Mother Nature!

Pamela Gordon said...

Absolutely stunning! You folks do such meticulous work and I appreciate your sharing the steps to making these gorgeous masterpieces. I love daffodils, real or glass, and am waiting for the weather to warm up here too, so the real ones can bloom. Very interesting post Karen. Have a blessed week and I hope it warms up there soon and the snow melts. Pam

Carolyn ♥ said...

So glad I found you again... you truly inspire me. Your stained glass is nothing short of amazingly beautiful and what a treat to follow you in the process. You must be a very patient lady, Karen, I'm quite sure I could never make something so lovely. The daffodils are exquisite but the blue lamp captured my heart.

Kalantikan said...

They are real amazing works of art! Not many are as patient and diligent as the two of you, very impressive. Now i wonder how much that lamp will cost!

Betsy said...

I enjoyed reading the step by step process. So many pieces to foil, do your fingers ever hurt? Most only see the finished product, but to see what actually goes into the making of one these is amazing. Gorgeous!

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Wow, Karen! I am amazed at the patience and skill it takes to make these wonderful works of art. You guys truly have a gift.

I have a few daffodils blooming. I hope spring gets to your parts soon, too.

Anonymous said...

WOW! I am still in awe. Really a great work of art.

Rosemary said...

Thanks for the in depth photos of the making of stain glass.... love the bright colours... It is hard to believe that planting will begin soon . Very cold here tho our snow has gone..

Debbie@Debbie-Dabble and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

O mY!! What a work of art!! Both are stunning pieces!!

Thanks so much for stopping by and encouraging me on my weight loss journey.... I have lost another 2.4 pounds since I did that post so I have lost 7.8 pounds in 3 weeks. I am very happy with that. My friend has lost 35 pounds since the beginning of the year but she has about 60 to go to get to her goal. I do love my bike.... Thanks again for your support!!


Shyrlene said...

Karen - what an incredible journey it is to make a stained glass lamp?!! Most of us folks would have no idea what it takes to create such beauty. Can I just say, "WOW"!?!!

You & Carl are truly artesians. I am in awe... WOW!

Jennifer said...

So much work and patience goes into one of these pieces of art. It was interesting to follow your process from start to finish. Amazing work Karen! The daffodil lamp is just beautiful.

kate maryon said...

HI Karen
I do admire all the work your family does together on these lamps. Not only are they Heirlooms they are also incredible memories! I love this one...but Im a wisteria lover so will have to wait and see if it will take over the number one spot!. Winter has certainly been a lot longer then the furry rodent said it was going to be..any one want woodchuck stew for dinner. I look forward to following your blog again this summer.Thank you for noticing I was missing in action. Just a lot of work when your recreating your life. Stay warm.