First Adventures with Stained Glass

So there is a place in Benton called the Glass Haunt.  My earliest memory of this house was from elementary school and walking past it on the way to the 4H petting zoo day at the local high school.  Of course we drove past it countless times, but walking past was the first time I really noticed the beautiful brick home with its winding driveway and the iron benches that sat under huge trees in the front yard.

947083_10151467809823107_1894635099_nDuring high school, this house went up for sale and Mom picked me up one random lunch hour with a ‘if you want to see this house you better get in the car’ mission.  The furnishings were long gone, but the mission style interior was lovely and intact.  The house eventually became a health food store and then a few years later the Glass Haunt.

I’ve always been fascinated by stained glass, perhaps for the same reason I like jewelry or why I was an Art History major.  Physical colored light.  So I wanted to try it for myself, but was weary on taking on yet another craft.  However, curiosity got the better of me and I went in a couple times to meet the staff and gauge if I wanted to take it on.  Being underemployed at the time, the time and cost were things to consider, but after steady employment was secured and during a visit with my good friend Audrey in May, we went to one of the open workshops to try our hand at it.

We opted to work on a pre-designed kit with a quilt block pattern.  I thought this would make Mom a cute birthday present.  We were walked through the process and spent the afternoon cutting glass to fit the pattern.  It reminded me a lot of sewing – definitely a measure-twice-cut-once activity.  The glass was surprisingly easy to work with, and it was inspiring to see all the different projects being worked on.

970112_10101204578262508_206957507_nWe were the obvious newbies that day, and it was exciting to see the advanced projects.  Everything from full windows to sun-catchers.   The kits we picked out, which I thought would be quick since they had straight lines, took quite a while to cut out, so that’s pretty much all we got done on the first day.  My block was composed of purple, green and yellow.  Audrey opted for blue, green and yellow.  She’s pictured at right measuring pieces based off the print-out pattern.

20130629_144347Though glass is easy to work with once you know how, it’s important to cut the glass a certain way so you won’t get hurt.  Everyone had their story and ‘war wound’ to share and Audrey got hers on a corner piece at the very end of the day.  Bandage time!   It didn’t crimp our fun and at the end of the day we put our stuff with the other student projects and continued with our weekend of Shakespeare and fun in St. Louis.


20130814_134720Toward the end of June I returned to the Glass Haunt to continue with my project.  I really wanted to get this done for Mid-August and with a busy July ahead of me I needed to get crackin’ to get this done.  I finished grinding the edges of the pieces and ‘foiled’ them  to prep for soldering.  It took several hours to get all the pieces to fit just right, but I was pleased with the result.  That Saturday was a slow day and for the most part I was by myself and got to work one-on-one with the shop owner, Ruth.


20130814_134659That’s right, week of Mom’s birthday.  How did I run out of time?  I had a Wednesday afternoon before Mom’s b-day free and so I checked into the Glass Haunt to get my project done.   On to soldering!   I think this ended up being my favorite part.  Once you got the hang of it, soldering can go pretty quickly.  I had a hard time remembering to use the Flux at first, but it was easy to fix the problem areas and move forward.  I started with the ‘front’ of my piece and flux/soldered in sections, covering all the copper foil with lead metal.  Don’t touch the molten metal!

20130814_160037Then you put the border metal on and solder the back and all the corners.  The back didn’t come out as well as the front because of air bubbles that form where the pieces met.  Will have to be more careful and slower next time.  After everything is soldered, you clean off the flux and then burnish the metal to give it a uniform look and wax to give it some shine.

We debated on how the piece should hang and decided to hang it from one of the corners.  So we attached some lead loops for hanging.  So over the course of 3 days,  the project took around 12 hours.  It was satisfying to complete and I look forward to my next project, esp since I have all kinds of supplies now.  Audrey needs to come back soon to finish hers!!


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