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Artist Designs Carousels In Glass

Who knew I would love doing stained glass, who knew I could even do it! About 7 years ago I moved to a town in Arizona where there are 9 huge community centers and one can pursue any hobby ... play Bocce Ball to doing silvercraft, stained glass and metalcraft, line dancing to drama ensembles. I have always been interested in glass and remember vacations with my parents, visiting the glass blower's store on the pier at the beach.

I started in the woodworking craft center (both grandfathers were carpenters), then moved on to stained glass intending to go to silvercraft and then choose one from the 3 hobbies to pursue. I stayed with stained glass and have made several hundred panels/items in that 7 years, from jewelry boxes to Christmas wreaths, garden candy to lamps.

After a pattern and the glass is chosen, and the frame is pinned in place, if the glass is transparent I put it on the pattern and trace around one piece. If the glass is opaque I use clear vellum to trace the piece, cut it out and trace on the glass. I cut out the piece and grind the edges to smooth them and create a good surface for the next step.

Each piece is then edged with 7/32" copper foiling with a sticky backing, different sized foil for different thicknesses of glass. Solder doesn't stick to glass so the copper foiling strips are the conduit with flux to join with the solder. I tack each piece in place, just a small dob of solder to hold the many, many pieces in place while I cut, decide and change if I need to. The solder also comes in different blends, I tack with 50/50 (50% tin and 50% lead).

When the panel or item is tacked and cleaned, I then apply flux to a small section at a time and solder with 60/40 (more tin to hold up the solder and make a nice "bead" ) along all the seams. Then a zinc frame is fitted, if the panel is large, 1/4" steel bars are put inside the framing for reinforcement. The flux is water based so when the item is finished, a soft scrubbing brush and soap is used, then a "patina" is applied, this is an acid to make the solder black, copper or brass, finishing with a light wax compound to make a nice shine.

Unfortunately my hobby is extremely labor intensive, yes a lot are, but with a large piece of possibly 2000 pieces it can take a long time. The carousel horses took me nearly 3 months, a few hours a day and the weekend foiling while watching TV!

I do consignment work and have southwest designs in nearby upscale stores, and cowboy/indian themed panels in a town known for its "cowboy" themed days.

I love the challenge of customized pieces where the design is chosen by the customer and usually out of my comfort zone. I recently made a half-round transom, it was 60" x 30" , with red Sedona mountains, sahuaro and agave cactus and a couple of quail to complete the southwest scene.

Brenda Weston
Colours Art Glass
Phoenix, Arizona

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