Stained Glass Sun Catcher
Amy Bajorek Kappler brings a lot of sunshine into her family's life with her stained glass sun catchers.
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Project by Amy Bajorek Kappler from Austin, Texas.
Amy brings a lot of sunshine into her family's life with her stained glass sun catchers on display. So obsessed is she with this hobby she rediscovered while visiting an arts ranch on her honeymoon, it is a pastime she now describes as a "hobby gone mad."
Materials and Tools:
glass globs and/or jewels
stretched lead came
60/40 tin-lead solder
heavy-gauge tinned copper wire
water or ammonia-free glass cleaner
small paint brush
wire or chain
1. Create a pattern/design and select the colors to be used. She primarily uses colored glass nuggets (a.k.a. glass globs or jewels) in this sun catcher.
2. For the center of this sun catcher, she used a kiln-fused square piece (a square bevel can be substituted — skip to step 4). To make this piece: Cut the glass for the square centerpiece. First transfer the square pattern to the glass by placing the glass on top of the pattern and marking with a Sharpie marker. Transfer the pattern onto two pieces of glass. Hold the cutter like a pencil, keeping the wheel perpendicular to the piece of glass. Always protect your eyes by wearing safety glasses. Score once with the cutter, break the glass with running pliers, and then make the next score. Running pliers have a curved jaw that allows for more control. Just gently clamp down on the glass and squeeze.
3. Fire the center square piece in a kiln. On a prepared kiln shelf, arrange the pieces of glass to be fired. Using fusing schedule, place in kiln and fire. Let pieces cool completely.
4. Wrap each piece of glass with lead came, a thin strip of metal with a channel grooved into it to receive pieces of glass. Before lead came is used, it must be stretched. A local glass shop will do this for you. Stretching the lead removes the kinks and makes it stronger. Lead came is very pliable and fairly easy to use. Fit the lead came around each piece of glass and cut the lead to size using lead-cutting pliers.
5. Arrange pieces of glass directly on the pattern. Position the glass globs and the fused (or the square bevel) glass centerpiece onto the pattern you created.
6. To solder: Using aluminum pushpins, secure the sun catcher into the project board. This will keep it from shifting while you solder. Make sure that all of the joints are clean.
7. Apply flux (flux makes the solder adhere to the copper) to each of the intersecting points using a flux brush. Turn on ventilation fan and you are ready to solder. Tack solder at seam intersections by holding soldering iron above and allowing solder to drop onto it. Be careful not to hold the iron on the joint too long or you will melt the lead came.
8. Allow the sun catcher to cool and then flip it over. Flux and solder all seams as you did on the front. Note: No eating or drinking while handling lead or solder.
9. Add a hanging loop to the top to hang your piece. Wrap heavy-gauge tinned copper wire around a marker or wide pen and use cutting pliers to cut the individual loops free.
10. Once your piece is finished, wash it using dish soap and water or ammonia-free glass cleaner.
11. Apply the patina to change the color of soldered seams to black or copper. The finished piece can be left with a silver solder finished color or you can use a patina to make your solder copper or black. For this project, we used a black patina. Make sure that the sun catcher is completely cleaned before applying patina. With latex gloves, apply the liquid patina with a small brush and immediately wipe it off. Apply the patina to the front and the back of the sun catcher. Once the desired effect is achieved, clean the entire piece again.
12. Hang the sun catcher with wire or chain. Make sure that the wire or chain will support the weight of the panel.