Friday, December 22, 2017

Stained Glass Christmas Ornament (class)

The global village center in Itaewon, Seoul, hosted a stained-glass Xmas-tree ornament making class. Though a bit expensive at W25,000 or W30,000, I thought it was a great chance to have a new experience. And, I could get the foundation knowledge of soldering, and then from there I could teach myself. So I signed up. 

Stained Glass Star Ornament Making

Each person was given a handout with introductory information, and just a word or two of caution (see below ... not much of a word of caution! If this class was offered in the States, we'd be required to sign a liability form before the class, and no kids would ever be allowed to even think of using a soldering iron. The expectation here in Korea still is "you're not helpless, so just be careful". Great approach to experimenting with arts and crafts!) . The husband and wife team who prepared this lesson regularly teach stained glass classes, so they came well prepared. All materials, including protective clothing like aprons and gloves, were included in the price.
  • Wear apron and gloves
  • Take your time. Do not rush.
  • Soldering iron is very hot, so be EXTRA CAREFUL! 
  • While using the iron, don't touch anything but the handle, and when not in use always place the iron in the holder.
  • If you have questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
Cutting glass practice:

Each of us had two 5" x 5" or so pieces of glass -- one was to practice cutting on. We were to make long quick cuts as parallel as possible. The idea was (1) to learn the angle for making the most precise cuts, and (2) learn the importance of control in order to achieve a planned cut (precise measurements are very important on dimensional work!) The second piece was to be the cutting board/platform for cutting the stained glass. 

Steps to successful cuts: First, control the cutter and practice cutting glass
  • Grab the cutter like a pencil -- the longer part of the cutter should face downwards.
  • It may not seem like it, but you need to apply pressure in order to score the glass.
  • If you cannot keep your hand straight, draw a line with a pen and score the glass along the line.
  • With the round part of the pliers underneath the scored glass, grip the glass along the edge of the score line and break the glass towards you (wonder why since glass fragments might fly upwards, but that said, it seems a person has more control snapping the glass this way.)
  • Avoid snapping the glass close to your face, so hold your hands low while snapping the glass.

Sanding the glass
  • Drip 1-2 drops of water on the knife sharpener (whetting tool) and sand the edges of the glass
  • Wipe off the glass dust with a wet tissue and dry the cut pieces

Copper foiling
  • Center the strips of copper foil along the edge of the cut glass and wrap the edge completely
  • Wrap the excess sides of the foil over the sides and press it flat
  • Burnish the foil with a plastic utensil (a smooth pen cap maybe); foil should appear very smooth and neat all along the perimeter edges

  • Temporarily fix the glass segments together with small strips of tape
  • Apply flux using a toothbrush (if too much flux is used, removal of excess is difficult)
  • Put just a sporadic few beads of solder in strategic places to hold the pieces together
  • Remove the tape and apply flux to all copper foil
  • Solder all of the edges as smoothly as possible and until all copper foil is covered

Affixing the holder ring

Because of lack of time, one of the teachers deftly took a pair of pliers and quickly picked up small keychain ring segments, applied flux and soldered one on each participant's ornament. And wah-lah, we had a Christmas tree ornament ... which took about 2 hours to make. We should easily whip them out next time. They really are quite simple!

the completed ornament along with our instructors' contact information
I found the glass cutting aspect and the actual soldering the most fun! This was an introductory course even though we were only making tiny straight cuts. I did try to make some right angle and curved cuts and when the husband saw me, he laughed and said I needed different tools and different method. Right. I was only shattering glass. So maybe in the future I'll take some higher instruction on more advanced curved cuts. The husband and wife team regularly hold stained glass classes, and they had on display some Hawaii samples with beautiful curved cuts.  I have their info, so that'll be what I learn next! 

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