This creative mom converts colorful glass into everything from jewelry and wind chimes to mobiles and magical dream fairies.
Jennifer Daggs has a history of making crafts and earning money from them. This crafty entrepreneur started out in the 3rd grade making soft sculpture dolls from her mother's panty hose. She sold them for $3.50 each and saved up enough money to buy herself a 10-speed bike. In college she moved on to marbleizing silk scarves, which she sold to buy her own textbooks. Later in life, her husband challenged her to try stained glass, which she did and loved. This full time mom and part time crafter converts colorful glass into everything from jewelry and wind chimes to mobiles and magical dream fairies.
Materials and Tools:
2 small glass nuggets for eyes/head of the dragonfly
ring saw for detail cuts
general cleaning agent (Simple Green)
lead free solder
fid or bone folder
flux and brush
copper ground wire
16-gauge stainless steel wire
heavy stock paper
stained glass pattern
stained glass cleaner
stained glass polish
grade 0000 steel wool
yellow glass beads for inside the flower
*Use a work board that won't catch fire and that allows pushpins to be inserted.
1. Draw designs for the fish, lily pads and dragonfly either by tracing from existing art or freehand.
2. Transfer designs onto heavy stock paper to make an actual size pattern, number each piece of the design to keep track of each piece and its placement in the design. Using carbon paper, make a second copy of each design.
3. Cut the pattern apart. Keep the second copy of the design intact for laying out the cut glass.
4. Using a permanent marker, trace each pattern piece onto the glass, paying attention to the "grain" or design of the glass. Write the number of the pattern piece onto each glass piece.
5. Wearing safety glasses, cut out each glass piece using a glasscutter.
6. Grind the edges of each glass piece on the grinder to smooth. Make any final adjustments as to how the pieces fit together, especially the fish if it has been cut free hand.
7. Clean each piece of glass to remove oil, dirt or remaining glass dust. You may need to re-number each piece of glass after cleaning and drying. Make sure you remember which side is up.
8. Place the dry pieces on top of the uncut pattern page to make sure that everything matches up and fits together properly. If they don't fit, use the glasscutter or grinder to reshape as needed.
9. Wrap the edges of each glass piece in copper foil. Rub all the bubbles out of the foil with the fid (or bone folder) and cut excess edges off with a razor blade. Put the pieces back onto the pattern page.
10. Plug in the soldering iron to warm up.
11. Slide the pieces onto a work board. For the fish use push pins to push all the pieces together so that they are tight against one another and properly aligned.
12. Brush flux onto the copper foil paying close attention to where the pieces of glass touch.
13. Using the soldering iron and solder, spot solder the pieces together where the pieces touch and at intersections. Cover all of the copper lines and build up a nice, smooth bead of solder. If necessary, brush on more flux to help the solder flow better.
14. Once one side is soldered, carefully un-pin and flip the piece over to solder the opposite side.
15. Solder the edges of the piece.
16. Make a ring from stainless steel wire for hanging at the top of the piece, flux and solder this piece on the top. Play with the ring placement to ensure that the piece hangs properly. Tip: This can be a little tricky.
17. Cover the edges of the lily pad glass pieces with copper foil. Brush on flux and solder together. Build up a good amount of solder in the split in the leaf to attach a ring at the top/center of one of the lily pads to hang horizontally—similar to a lily pad floating on the surface of a pond. Solder a ring onto the bottom of one of the lily pads so that you can hang a fish below it. Experiment with the balance and placement of this ring and the top ring so that the lily pad hangs flat.
18. Foil, flux and solder each individual flower petal. Arrange the petals on the bottom of an upside down bowl, create one ring of five petals first and solder together. Then create a second ring of petals on top of them, staggering them so that the points of the second ring poke out in-between the points of the first ring of petals.
19. Cut 16-gauge wire into two 6 inch lengths, twist them together in the middle and solder them to the inside of the bowl or cup created by the petals.
20. Solder the flower on top of one of the lily pad that does not have a hanging ring.
21. Once the flower and pad are together make a hanging ring and solder it inside the flower so that the pad/flower combo hang flat.
22. To make the flower stamens slip a bead onto each of the wires coming out of the flower, use pliers to make a small loop at the end of each wire to keep the bead from coming off. Holding the flower upside down, put a small drop of instant glue on the top of each bead where the wire comes out and let the glue dry. This will keep the beads up at the top end of the wire so that you can see them. Once the glue is dry finesse the wires for a natural look.
23. To make the dragonfly glue two flat back glass nuggets (flat back to flat back) with two-part epoxy. Put them aside to let the glue set. These will be the eyes/head of the dragonfly.
24. Foil, flux and solder the body and wings of the dragonfly.
25. Solder two of the wing sections together for the left side wings and the other two for the right side wings. Prop the wings at an angle and solder the inside ends of the wings together to make the dragonfly look like he's flying.
Then solder the completed wings to the top edge of the body piece.
26. Once the epoxy is set on the head/eyes wrap foil around the joined area and flux and solder together. Then solder the eyes/head to the wide end of the body of the dragonfly.
27. Solder two small rings of wire on the top seam of the wings to hang the dragonfly. Add lengths of wire folded in half to the bottom of the dragonfly body to form wings. Fold the wire into "V's" then solder the bottom of the "V" to the body. Then bend the ends to look like little "L's" for feet.
28. Let the pieces cool, then wash them off with the same cleaner that you used before to remove the flux and debris. Dry the pieces.
29. Rub all the sides and edges of the solder with steel wool to polish it to produce a shiny surface.
30. Spray and wipe the piece down with stained glass cleaner. When dry, wipe on a thin coat of stained glass polish. Let it get hazy, then buff it with a soft cloth until it shines.
31. Using your hands, pliers and wire cutters bend and shape the copper ground wire to shape the "arms" of the mobile.
32. Put a split ring on each end of the fishing spinners and slide them onto the copper "arms", one in the center and one at each end. Use these spinners and split rings to attach each stained glass element to the mobile along with some fishing line. The dragonfly is the only exception. Tie a piece of fishing line to one loop on one wing then tie the other end to the other loop on the other wing. This will create a "yolk". Then slip a split ring with a spinner attached onto that line. Balance the dragonfly and put a drop of instant glue on the ring where the fishing line touches it to hold it in place.
33. Make a hanging line for the mobile and hang the main or top "arm" up so that you can hang your pieces onto the mobile. Remember to play with the counter balance to produce a balanced mobile. Put one large object on one end and a group of smaller objects on the other end. Bend the "arms" a little or even make them shorter (or make a new longer one) in order to balance the whole piece.
34. Add a small drop of instant glue to each knot to secure it. Then using your pliers, close each loop in the copper wire so that the pieces will not slide off when the mobile is transported from one location to another.