Friday, November 28, 2008

A Training Exercise

I went down to see my kids and granddaughter last week, and worked at a fundraiser this last weekend, so not much glassing got done. And before I get started on the new project, let me just run a little plug here.
We just had a Holiday Bazaar Arts and Crafts Fair for the St James Family Center. The center's primary function is a non-denominational day care center. But wait..there's more.. In a very poor county, this is the only licenced day care. The fee schedule is on a sliding scale, and many of the children here are "scholarshipped". They have balanced meals, breakfast and lunch, ECEAP programs (early childhood education..similar to Headstart) Their parents know they are in a safe, clean enviornment, with trained caretakers. If you've been a working parent dropping your kids off at daycare, you know what a concern that is. The SJFC has a bus that takes the children to and from the elementary school. But they also do free nutrition classes for the community as well as parenting classes, childhood health care seminars, children's safety jamborees. They run the only Domestic Violence shelter here, and sexual assualt crisis intervention. For a very small community, and with very little funding, this center has broad shoulders, and carries a very heavy load. You can learn more at . Funding is always difficult and any donation, no matter how small, is a great blessing to us.
And now back to our program.
I think the next project will be a train for my brother, specifically a steam engine. There are a few patterns out there, most of them pretty complicated. I tried to find some pictures on the internet, and there are a few possibilities.

I'm not sure I have the skills to turn these into patterns, but I can try..the worst that can happen is that I decide to buy a pattern from someone more talented than I, or use a free one. I don't know that it's possible to have a simple pattern that doesn't look like a cartoon. Stay at 11.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I decided to finally do a project for me. We're building an Arts and Crafts style house. The first step is to build an apartment over the garage, and that's the step we're currently on. I wanted to do a transom insert for the door. Since we are in the Northwest, it didn't make any sense to do a prairie style window, although they are beautiful. I couldn't find one that I liked so I decided to try to draw another pattern. It would help if I had an imagination. I like the look of the MacKintosh roses, so after staring at several in a variety of forms, I put pencil to paper. After the fact (of course) I learned that the roses can be cut from one piece of glass if done properly. Heck, I was having a tough enough time cutting those curves. I did get to use my strip cutter for the first time. After making several ghastly measuring mistakes, I came up with a method that worked for me.

I used Spectrum rough rolled/Champagne for the background, and muffle glass for the flowers, leaves and stems. I hadn't used muffle glass before, and I like it, especially for stylized patterns. I have to say, that stylized patterns aren't my favorite, and geometric designs are much harder than those that are more free-flowing. It demands more accuracy, and so far, that's not my strong point. One other thing I didn't think of at the time and that is , the transom window in the door has 6 panels, and I made this window with 12. Things that make you go ..doh! But it was fun, quick, and I learn something with each one.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Super Solder

Saturday morning, I headed out to Chinook to the Inspiration Glass store to pick up more background glass. It's a stunning hour drive, even in a mild rain. While I was there, they were teaching a beginner class. Well, these women were doing beautiful soldering. No lumps, bumps, pills, spikes,,none of the things that plague my solder. So I was very careful to observe just how they were holding the soldering iron and the solder in relation to the glass and each other. Sup rise!! I was doing it all wrong. It's a tiny shop but they teach a variety of classes there, including decorative soldering and a class they call Super Solder..that's the one I want.

In the winter it gets to be a little scary. The arctic storms roar through the Columbia River mouth, sometimes at 90 mph. Trees crash across the road and rain pounds so hard you just can't see to drive. So classes will have to wait until spring. I managed to get out of the store without too much credit card debt and drove back home.

Sunday I finished cutting glass, and foiled Monday night in front of the TV.

I finally had some time yesterday morning to solder. It definitely went more smoothly (no pun intended) using the new method. I still get too much solder going, and I'm not really happy with the way the iron fluctuates temperature, but as I've read, "It's a poor craftsman that blames his tools." I'll just have to make more projects so I can practice more. Oh darn!

I had never used lead came to wrap a project before so I was a little nervous about doing that correctly. I was worried about securing it properly to the glass, and about attaching the chain in a way that was secure. So I very carefully measured the diameter..21" just like I planned, and multiplied by pi. OK so I cheated and used a calculator, but hey, I wanted it to be accurate. Then just to be sure I added a 1/4 of an inch, thinking if it were too long, I could always trim it shorter, but if it was too short, I was in hot water. I'll e darned if it wasn't 1/4" too short anyway! I apparently didn't figure in the occasional irregularity in my "round" project. I wrapped the lead from bottom to top, thinking that the weight would be cradled instead of pushing on the seam, made a patch, and soldered the thing in there as best as I could.

Then began what I refer to as....The Chain Fiasco. I wanted to keep the handy hanger attachments for the chain away from any seams, on the glass and on the exterior lead came, so I put them at about 2:30 and 9:30. That seemed really secure, only to discover we would not have been able to hang the darned thing without the chain cutting across the glass..even if hung by two hooks (which I plan to do). So back off it came, and I re-did the chain. Learn something every day. I'll get it boxed and shipped off this week, with hanging instructions for the maintenance folks at the apartment building.