Welcome to Fickes Glass Act – Because Life Isn’t Just Black & White

Recently, the Volunteer Recognition Dinner was held for the volunteers for the Highmark Caring Place, a grieving center for children, adolescents and their families in central Pennnsylvania.  I have been a volunteer there for over 7 years and can’t express how great this place is for grieving children and their families.  I am very proud to be a volunteer there, assisting in any way I can to further their mission.
I was commissioned by the staff to create ‘Hope’, the Caring Place Butterfly, in stained glass to be presented to each Caring Place volunteer in recognition of the hope that they provide for grieving families through the work that is done there. It was quite a task being commissioned to make 200 of these butterfly suncatchers …(1800 pieces of glass, all hand cut), but I was honored to be asked to make them. My stained glass business is only part time, since my retirement from Highmark Blue Shield in 2009, so whenever I would get weary when making these, I reminded myself of who these were for and what they represent and it made the load a little lighter!
For those who are interested, I have listed below the various stages with pictures in the life of ‘Hope’ and how she was created.  I have not listed all the nitty gitty, but it gives you a look at the basic process involved in creating stained glass pieces. Enjoy!  Also, if you are interested in doing stained glass, there is a local shop Rainbow Vision Stained Glass  that has classes and supplies at reasonable prices.  That is where I got my start.
A pattern was created and I used a cardboard template to trace it onto the glass after I had rough cut the sheets of glass into manageable pieces.  Sheets of glass varying is size.  8″ x 12″, 12″ x 16″, 16″ x 24″, 24″ x 24″ and 24″ x 48″.  I chose 16″ x 24″ for my purchases, since it was easier to transport but allowed for some discount.  The larger the piece, the cheaper per square inch.  These sheets were then cut down to much smaller pieces.  Also it worth noting that unless the glass is one color, it has a grain to it or streaks.  You will need to determine how best to cut your pieces to maintain a uniform consistent look and not waste too much excess.  The light blue pieces had a streak pattern to them, while the dark blue is one color throughout so cutting direction did not matter.
Patterned traced and rough cut glass pieces - Hope Caring Place Butterfly Suncatcher approx. 5" x 4.5"

Patterned traced and rough cut glass pieces – Hope Caring Place Butterfly Suncatcher approx. 5″ x 4.5″

The glass pieces are then scored and  ‘cut’ using a hand held glass cutter and grozing pliers.  I say ‘cut’ because glass is not cut in the true sense using this method, but rather scored and’ broken’ into the desired shape by hand.  Sometimes, glass has a mind of it’s own and does not follow the path we have chosen for it.  I usually wear gloves doing this process, since the edges are very sharp and it is almost impossible to do any amount of cutting without cutting oneself (ouch!).  Also, you can’t always be sure it will break where you want it.

A glass saw can be used, but is more time consuming  and not really that easy to control, in my opinion.  I only used my glass saw when making very intricate cuts, especially for inside angles, which are next to impossible to do by the scoring method.  Additionally , the glass saw is very messy, involving water and a diamond encrusted band saw machine.  Prep and clean up time, usually makes it prohibitive for quick cuts.  FYI, the blades are approximately $100 for the glass saw!

Final Glass Cut - Hope Caring Place Butterfly Suncatcher approx. 5" x 4.5"

Final Glass Cut – Hope Caring Place Butterfly Suncatcher approx. 5″ x 4.5″

The next stage is grinding the edges vertical and smooth with a wet grinder.  This is also messy, but necessary to remove the jagged and sharp edges and shaping the pieces precisely.  All pieces are then washed clean with soap and water, ready for the next steps.

Ground edges smooth - Hope Caring Place Butterfly Suncatcher approx. 5" x 4.5"

Ground edges smooth – Hope Caring Place Butterfly Suncatcher approx. 5″ x 4.5″

Once the edges are ground, I used the Tiffany method to foil the glass.  The Tiffany method involves wrapping a copper foil around all the edges of the glass, folding the edges over each surface of the glass forming a channel and smoothing the foil to remove wrinkles and provide a more even surface for the solder.  The foil is sticky backed allowing it to adhere to the glass for soldering in the next stages.

Foiled - Hope Caring Place Butterfly Suncatcher approx. 5" x 4.5"

Edges foiled with copper foil – Hope Caring Place Butterfly Suncatcher approx. 5″ x 4.5″

Soldering involves using a soldering iron, flux and solder. (duh!)   Typically, the soldering iron should have a temperature control to set for various melting points.  The flux is applied to all the copper wrap foil edges and solder is applied in conjunction with the soldering iron to surface the edges with solder.  This is called tinning.  Again in this step I typically wear gloves.  This allows me to handle glass pieces that get very hot and minimize the chances of me burning myself.  Although, I am not always successful!

Depending on the project the pieces are then soldered together to form the final product. Once everything is soldered together, a final bead of solder is added to all seams to provide a more defined look.  Typically with projects with angles or straight edges, some sort of jig or form is used to align things properly.  I fabricated an angle plane in foam rubber to consistently form the wings at the same angle and allow me to join the pieces successfully.  During this process use is made of aluminum push pins to secure items while soldering.  The end result is shown below.

Butterfly Pieces Soldered - Stage 5A - Hope Caring Place Butterfly Suncatcher approx. 5" x 4.5"

Butterfly Pieces Soldered – Stage 5A – Hope Caring Place Butterfly Suncatcher approx. 5″ x 4.5″

I then added a reinforcement wire to the back side of the butterfly to strengthen the wing and support the angle desired.  A circle hook was added to on wing to provide an anchor point for hanging for display.

Soldering wire reinforcement on back - Stage 5B - Hope Caring Place Butterfly Suncatcher approx. 5" x 4.5"

Soldering wire reinforcement on back – Stage 5B – Hope Caring Place Butterfly Suncatcher approx. 5″ x 4.5″

Each side was tack soldered and then solder with a bead of solder on the seam.

Soldering Stage 5C - Hope Caring Place Butterfly Suncatcher approx. 5" x 4.5"

Soldering Stage 5C – Hope Caring Place Butterfly Suncatcher approx. 5″ x 4.5″

Hand made wire antenna was then formed and soldered in place.

Adding antenna - Soldering Stage 5D - Hope Caring Place Butterfly Suncatcher approx. 5" x 4.5"

Adding antenna – Soldering Stage 5D – Hope Caring Place Butterfly Suncatcher approx. 5″ x 4.5″

Some projects call for patina to be added that stains the solder seams in various colors, such as black, brass or copper.  For this project and many others, I prefer leaving the silver solder seams in their original state.  I just think it looks better on most projects.

The final product was then hand washed, cleaned again with stain glass cleaner to ensure no flux residue remains.  Then a thin coat of glass wax is added and hand buffed to a high gloss!

 

Final Hope Caring Place Butterfly Suncatcher approx. 5" x 4.5" - Cleaned and Waxed

Final Hope Caring Place Butterfly Suncatcher approx. 5″ x 4.5″ – Cleaned and Waxed

I will be exhibiting at the Pennsboro Pumpkinfest in Enola, Pa. October 2013.  The event is held in Adams-Ricci Park 100 East Penn Drive,  Enola, PA  17025.  This year, the event will be held Saturday October 12th  from 9:30am to 5:00pm and Sunday October 13th from 11:00am to 5:00 pm.   This event attracts over 250 crafters.

I will also be exhibiting at Mechanicsburg High School on October 26th, 2013, from 9:00a.m. – 3 p.m..  This 22nd event is held at the Mechanicsburg Area Senior High School on Broad Street in Mechanicsburg, Pa. and is sponsored by the Upper Allen Woman’s Club GFWC.

I have updated my ABOUT PAGE with more recent pictures of my studio.  Please review this page and see where I spend many hours of my retirement creating items for your enjoyment.

And as always, I am open to doing commission pieces made to your specifications and budget.  I do not have this web site set up and secured for financial transactions, but if you wish to purchase anything from my PRODUCT PAGE , want a commission piece or just need more information, please contact me @ fickesglassact@gmail.com.  I do accept most major credit cards for transactions over $25, but my personal favorite always  is cash/check.

Please check out my other pages on this site.  My ABOUT PAGE gives some background about myself and how I began my journey into making stained glass products.  For information about some of my stained glass sun catchers, stained glass panels and other stained glass products that I routinely stock or sell, please see my PRODUCT PAGE.  Viewing my SOME MORE STUFF – MY PORTFOLIO will show some other stained glass items that I have made for friends and commissioned sales pieces that I do not routinely stock, just to give you some idea of what might be available. Let your imagination soar!

‘Because Life isn’t just Black & White!’

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