Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Stainless Steel Glass Whatsit

 Way back last July, Carl came in the house with a piece of stainless steel scrap from a job he'd been working on.  The scrap steel was 9" wide by 18" tall and 1" thick with four vertical openings resembling a window pane cut out.  I wish I'd taken a before picture, but once again, I've dropped the ball. A picture is worth a thousand words, but I'll try to keep it well below the limit.

"What do you think we should do with this?" he asked as he carefully set it down on the kitchen floor.  "Do you have any ideas?"

As it turned out, I did have an idea for the impossibly heavy hunk of metal.  At first I thought it would make an interesting frame for a stained glass panel for the garden.  I sat down to draw up a design but the vertical lines were too narrow to accommodate anything floral.  (You know me, I'm all about the flowers.) 

While I was poking around in our stained glass scraps, I found some glass globs in assorted shapes and sizes stashed in an ice cream pail.  Most of the globs came with some supplies we had purchased from a stained glass artist who had given up the craft.  I was never really sure what I would do with them at the time, but the time had come.

I decided to attempt an abstract stained glass design.  The spaces were just right for squares, rectangles and circles of varying sizes.  I laid the entire design out on the light table in the dining room, gingerly putting the thirty pound hunk of stainless on the surface without breaking the glass underneath. I puttered around with the shapes for a week or two at night, trying various configurations.

This process of putzing was similar to the way we created the big round window for Castle Aaargh; there was no design, just a whole bunch of random scrap glass in varying shapes.

Castle Aaargh's Round Scrap Window 2014
 I admit that the round window came out much better than either of us anticipated.   This was the first window we ever made without a pattern; the shapes we had to work with formed their own pattern.  I wasn't as optimistic about the Stainless Steel Glass Whatsit, but what the heck?  Might as well try something new.  It's all basically scraps anyway.

Once I had the glass shapes placed in the vertical panes, I took a few days to wrap copper foil around each of them.  Many of the glass jewels were quite thick, so the process took longer than I anticipated, which is fine because foiling is my favorite part of the craft of stained glass.  I find it very relaxing to sit down with a bucket of glass and a good movie.  

Carl took over with the soldering when I was done foiling everything.  We weren't sure if the solder would adhere to the stainless steel or not, but surprisingly there were no problems.    At one point the entire project was tipped over by accident, so many of the pieces were dislodged before they were soldered, but to tell the truth,  I guess it didn't matter very much.  Behold my first attempt at abstract stained glass:

Carl had finished soldering this together late last fall, and I put off doing the clean up on the project for various reasons.   It had been moved from the front porch to the dining room floor and finally to the basement for the holidays where Carl plopped it into a wastebasket.   Neither of us were totally thrilled with the end result, no stained glass work ever looks promising especially covered in soldering paste and flux in a gooey mess.  I had chalked it up to an experiment and a learning experience; not anything I was likely to repeat.

 This week I went to empty the wastebasket and found the Whatsit again; it was very cold outside, nothing else was happening, might as well take my mind off my troubles and start the cleaning and detailing process.

Flush side
One side of the Whatsit is flush with the surface, but the other side is recessed into the 'panes' of the stainless steel piece.

Recessed side
The cleaning process took me most of the day and a night of movie watching, by all rights, a window or lamp should be cleaned as soon as possible after soldering, but with us, that doesn't always happen.  I have a set of dental picks that are great tools for detailing stained glass.

At first we had been underwhelmed by the way Whatsit turned out, but when I propped it up in the dining room window and the late afternoon sun streamed through it reminded me of stained glass chipped 'slab' windows installed in some churches and mausoleums. 

  All in all, this was an experiment that we may try again.  Using two different mediums was actually quite fun.  I'm not sure how or where we will display the Whatsit, but I'm sure Carl will think of something. 

In a way, life is a lot like these windows, sometimes you're given pieces of the puzzle and you don't know how any of them fit in the big picture.

 When life throws us scraps, all we can do is arrange things the best we can.  Maybe it's right, maybe it's wrong, but one thing is for certain, at least we tried.


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Oh Karen ~ I just love this piece! (Love the Aaargh window too.) I know Carl will find just the right place for this. I just thought of your blue gazebo, which you said you might be having to move.

Love it in your window with the sun shining through it. Once again a great job by the two of you.

I love the one you sent me after Mark left this planet for his heavenly home. I see it every single day.

Love and hugs for the both of you ~ FlowerLady

Peonies & Magnolias said...

I loved the way your new piece turned out, so pretty. Love the Castle Aaargh window too, it is gorgeous!

I hope things are evening out for y'all and your septic woes get fixed this spring. We've had similar problems in years past with ours, no fun and always expensive.

Have a great rest of the week and take care.


Pamela Gordon said...

Oh wow! I really like this piece Karen. I guess it's because I love turquoise, aqua and green shades which remind me of the sea. I think it's gorgeous! Will you place it outside in the garden come spring?

Stephen Andrew said...

It is spectacular! I absolutely love it!!! Can't wait to see where it lives next. And oh my. I had forgotten how breathtaking the Aargh window is. Stunning. I'm sure it felt good to really focus on this.

Alison said...

Love the whatsit, Karen! Your creativity has no limit, I think. Thanks for posting the pics again of the Castle Aaargh window, it's so beautiful.

outlawgardener said...

Your whatsit is amazing; well balanced and reminiscent of the wonderful dalle de verre windows you mentioned! It's hard to believe that the Castle Aaargh window was made without a pattern! You're amazingly talented. Foiling and grinding are my least favorite parts of s.g. which is probably why I'm more of a leader than a foiler. My hat's off to you!

Carol said...

I loved how Whatsit turned out ♥ I'm sure you'll find the perfect spot for it somewhere. It was also great to see the Castle window again ♥♥♥♥

Beth said...

Karen, it's STUNNING! So is the Aargh window! Love your work; you and Carl are so talented. :)

Casa Mariposa said...

Gorgeous! I love it. Your castle window is stunning. :o)

Larry said...

I like it... looks great! Larry

Indie said...

Oh I think that's so cool! I'm sure it would look great in the garden somewhere (maybe with some blue and white flowers around it?)

Jennifer said...

I think the Whatsit came out wonderfully! I like the cool colors. The round scrap window for Castle Aaargh is also amazing Karen. The bands of pattern on the outside edge and at the centre of the circular window have such intricate patterns! Truly phenomenal work!

Shirley said...

Karen, I think your "whatsit" is truly beautiful! How did you come upon craating stained glass pieces to vegin with. I'd sure like to give it a try.

Beth at PlantPostings said...

Both the round window and the whatsit are amazing! The way the sun glows through them is truly magical. Now you have me daydreaming about adding some stained glass decorations to my windows. They're stunning!

Unknown said...

You and Carl are quite talented and have the eye for form and color. The piece is beautiful.

Lana said...

Wow. This is beautiful!