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George’s Artistic Adventure: Soldering Time

My panel so far.

You can read the rest of this series here.

Today was the day it all came together, quite literally, in Stained Glass. I foiled all of my glass as homework, so our instructor, Jimmy Powers, showed me how to solder first thing in the morning.

Soldering is probably the most fun part of the project so far. The first step is to brush all the joints with flux, which cleans the surface and facilitates the soldering process. Then, to hold everything together, I “tacked” a spot of solder between each piece (seen above). Then it was time to do the whole thing!

The soldering process is pretty forgiving, since I can always reheat a section to melt it and rework it. (I’m using 60/40 tin/lead solder.) Jimmy showed us how to “run a bead” by melting the solder and pulling it along the line with the iron. After I finished one side, it was time to flip it over and do the other one. I’m hoping to finish side two and frame and patina the panel next class.

Class is a lot of fun, and definitely a part of my week I look forward to. It’s not as tough as I expected, which I think owes a lot to a great teacher, a small class size, and starting out with a modest project. Choosing something to make and knowing I’ll get to take it home at the end of class is very appealing, too. In addition to the first-timers like me, lots of students re-take the class each term to work on new or more ambitious projects (see the link below) — and if I think of something a little braver I want to make, I might end up back in the studio in the future.

Here’s some more of what my fellow beginners, Fran and P.K., are working on. (By the way, there are lots more photos of student work on the Stained Glass students Facebook group.)

Fran’s abstract Wright panel is ready for copper foiling. The pieces are still under pattern paper in this photo, but you can see the color scheme is more organized than mine. Fran also uses some beveled pieces for the triangles and circles.
I’ve showed you pieces of P.K.’s lamp before, but here it is all together! This is the first of the four panels she will solder, and it looks even better in front of an incandescent light.

— George

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