Sunday, May 15, 2011
Prairie Style Stained Glass
I made this prairie-style stained glass window for Lawson as a first wedding anniversary present. The pattern is from a book called Prairie Style Panels, and I adapted the design to add a repeat. Although I just learned how to make stained glass windows using the copper foil technique, I went back to the lead came technique for this one, both because I already have all the supplies and because it is better suited to this kind of geometric straight line design. I hope to do more copper foil panels soon too, though (once I get the supplies), especially since I can really only do stained glass outside and this is the perfect time of year for it.
With this technique you cut out all the glass pieces, leaving a gap in between for the lead, and then you build up the panel by cutting the lead to the right sizes and shapes and fitting it all in place (the nails hold everything in place as you work). As you can kind of see from the extra pieces of lead at the bottom of the photo, there is a channel in the lead that the glass fits into.
Once you have the whole panel fitted together, you solder the joints and then you finish the panel with putty to hold the pieces of glass in place and then apply patina to color the metal black. The putty process is kind of a pain so one thing I am really looking forward to about making more copper foil panels is that you don't have to putty them!
Even though I have now made probably half a dozen windows using this method, since it is often a year or more in between I pretty much have to relearn the process each time. There are definitely things about this window that I am not super happy with how they turned out, partly because I was using old lead, and partly because I could have been more accurate with cutting the glass... just like in quilting, relatively small cutting errors add up across the piece and can make a big difference.
I was feeling somewhat frustrated as I finished the window and sad to be giving something to my sweetie that wasn't perfect, but in the end the mistakes aren't all that noticeable (especially if you don't make stained glass yourself), and he loves it. He loves that I made it, and that I made it for him, in a design he had previously said he liked... and while he believes me that it isn't perfect he is happy to overlook the flaws. This is actually a great encapsulation of all the things I love about him and what makes our relationship great, so it turns out that giving him a not-quite-perfect gift may be just the right thing after all.