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!
The next stage is grinding the edges vertical and smooth with a wet grinder. This is also messy, but necessary to smooth the sharp edges and to shape the pieces precisely. All pieces are then washed clean with soap and water, ready for the next steps.
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 has a sticky back allowing it to adhere to the glass for soldering in the next stages.
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. The solder is then applied using the soldering iron to heat foiled edges, allowing the solder to flow and adhere to the foil. 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 according to the pattern selected 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.
I then added a reinforcement wire to the back side of the butterfly to strengthen the wing span and support the angle desired. A circle hook was added to the wing to provide an anchor point for hanging for display.
Each side was tack soldered and then solder with a bead of solder along the seam.
Hand made wire antenna was then formed and soldered in place.
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.
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!