Glass Art

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Glass Art  and working with glass is a great idea for those looking to pick up a rewarding an exciting new craft. The possibilities are almost endless! You can make hanging art, windows, frames, boxes, clocks, lanterns, and more. Since there are some tools involved that require specific handling, you might consider taking a few classes to familiarize yourself with glass art before starting. Once you get the hang of it, however, working with glass is easy and fun. Think of all the different combinations of colors and patterns that you could create to complement any part of your home!

This guide is designed to give you some background and tips for purchasing the basic equipment. Good luck!

A Place to Work

Before you start anything, it is important to choose a suitable spot that you will use as your workspace. Make sure that you have a flat and sturdy surface-one where you can sit comfortably and easily maneuver around. It should be a quiet, non-distracting place, as well as one free of interruptions from children since the glass can be dangerous for them. It is also recommended that you choose a place that is not carpeted so when you are done, the shards and chips of broken glass can easily be vaccuumed up and thrown away. If you are unwilling or unable to find a spot like this in your home, you might want to buy a special glass working surface so all of the glass slivers are caught while you're working.

Picking Your Glass

Obviously, you're going to need to get some glass in order to start your project. It is important to have an idea or concept in your head before purchasing. That way, you can stick to a specific color scheme and glass size. Also, you might get distracted by the beautfiul stained glasses, but instead, try to stick to what you have in mind. If you happen to buy the flashy colored glass, you might not be able to pull off such a beauitful creation.

Aside from color, you will also need to consider the glass grain, texture, and its patterns. Variations in shade and color can sometimes add to the overall look, but can also take away from it if you are not careful. Look for either tiles to make mosaics (a great place to start for beginners) or full sheets of glass (which can be cut into whatever shapes you wish).

Tools

Once you have an idea of what you want to create, then you are going to need some basic tools to get you on your way. The first thing that you will need is a glass cutter. These tools are used to 'score' the glass before breaking it up. For beginners, the Fletcher Ball End glass cutter pictured below, which costs around $5, is all you need. For the more advanced, take a look at these other tools. They have been designed to reduce wrist fatigue and pain. These usually run about $20-$40.

Fletcher Ball End Glass Cutter 

Thomas Grip Cutter 

Toyo Pistol Grip 

Toyo Custom Grip Cutter 

Toyospellerr Brass Supercutter 

Aside from the cutter, you're going to need some glass cutter fluid  to keep everything smoothly rolling. Many prefer to use glass cutters that you can load with oil to reduce mess. You also might want to purchase some glass pliers  for those harder to score projects. An alternative to glass cutters is a electric glass grinder . These tools grind away glass easily.

Foil

In order to put the glass together, you will need to solder it. However, before doing so, you must foil, or 'glaze', the glass first. To glaze your glass, you can either use copper foil  or the lead came method. For most projects, all you need to use copper foil. To use the foil properly, you need to wrap the appropriate sized piece around the edges of the glass. Then, remove the foil backing and press it firmly to the edge of the glass. You can also use a foil crimper  to help you in this process. That's all there is to it.

Choosing foil is mainly a matter of how big the glass is and how much of it that you wish to show. A typical foil width is 7/32". 3/16" or 5/32" should mostly be avoided since it is too narrow. This means there is less area to solder and therefore a weak bond between the two glasses. The thickness of the foil is another factor to be considered. The thicker the wire is, the less likely you will be able to tear it. 1.25ml foil is standard, but 1.5ml foil is good, too. The only problem with the latter is that it might be hard for glazing and could cut your fingers if you are not careful enough.

The last thing to consider with the foil is its color. Depending on what color glass you use, you will want to find a color foil that complements it. If you're using warm colors, then copper colored foil might go best. If the colors are stark, then you might want to consider black backing. Pastels might look best with a silvery foil backing. Remember that you can always alter the appearnace of the foil after you cut it. You can add diagonals, scallops, and other decorative edges with an exacto knife for a unique look.

Solder

Solder is the last step in your glass creation. You're going to need some solder wire  and a soldering iron . For beginners, a standard 100w soldering iron  is just fine-it will only cost you around $20 and it is more than capable of doing all that it needs to do. For a more advanced artist, you might want to consider upgrading to a higher quality iron. These might cost up to $50, but they will last longer and sometimes have some useful features, like temperature controls. For some ideas, look at the irons by Hakko  and Weller . For the solder itself, try Canfield  brand. They only use virgin metals for a smoother, less hazy look.