Saturday, January 28, 2012

Its solder time!

Hey peoples!
I decided to solder what's ready this past week. Why do this before the entire window is done? Because thinking about it was making me squirrely. Because my studio is small and I was starting to have storage management issues. Because it was there.

How do I solder? Let me give you a tip. Use a BIG TIP! Like a Hexacon 250 watt flamethrowing baseball bat. AKA: "The Pursuader". And NO, it is not too expensive. Nothing else will do. Seriously.

I work using copperfoil technique--or "Tiffany". For all you in the industry, I am not going to get into some argument defending the pros and cons of this. For all you people not in the industry let me tell you this technique is the cause of much "controversy" as it is less than a thousand years old and thus, and as a newbie, has yet to prove its value technically and artistically. Such is the curse of being invented post 1000 AD . (that link is to the oldest stained glass fragments known, fyi) ........SIGH........I will also say, my windows, being intensively layered, could not be achieved any other way.
Hexacon 250 Watt Soldering Iron

OK--so I put down the cartoon. Then I lay down the glass. Yes. 2nd grade Jigsaw puzzle skill are helpful.

The laying down of the glass

Then I tack solder the joints so the pieces stay put.

tack soldering

The smallest piece of glass in the entire monster window it the rope between the two tug-a-war girls.

Then I go in and fill in the lines. Kinda hard to write about soldering techniques!!! The point is to get a super smooooooooth line. One that has some integrity and some oomph to it. It should be rounded, but not chunky. Its ALL about temperature...all about controlling those degrees of hot and cold.

Side one halfway done

Side one done.

When the front is done, I clean it up a bit as it is a slimy, greeeeeeasy mess from the flux and covered with blobs of stray solder. It is not a good idea to handle it filthy, just to have it slide out of your grip!

This is what the cartoon looks like with flux gunk on it. I toss this in the trash.

Then I do the other side--which is much easier as it is usually still warm and also the gaps are filled.

ME! As photographed by Ms Fidget! with whom I had the honor of lunch the other day. Where did we eat? WHERE ELSE???


Mallory Weston said...

This looks like so much fun! Everything looks beautiful!

Judith Schaechter said...


Jx said...

Your soldering is the sexiest thing I've seen for ages. Do I need a massive rod of iron just like yours? Or do I just need to get out more? I heart the pic of you getting excited about Vietnamese food. Did you drink Bubble Tea?

Zach Green said...

Lovely, Judith, and Thx for sharing! Quick Q: you have any thoughts about preventing the... how shall I say... leakage or seepage or sqirtage or forceage of flux juice and vapour and general nastiness in between the glass thats multi-plated?? I have found multi-wrapping with copper and extra firm crimping on the edge (really excercizing the stickiness of the copper's adhesive...) to be mainly effective but still get the occasional missed SOMETHING that makes a garish cloud inside that takes forever to dissipate... Thanks again, and that was a very peppy demo! Cheers! ZG

Judith Schaechter said...

Hi Jx--
No,I had a Vietnamese coffee...real rocket fuel!!

Zach--I use coppermate paste flux as opposed to a liquid. This seems to help. There is seepage but the imagery is so dense it is usually totally undetectable.
Liquid flux, on the other had, used to seep a lot and oxidize the copper to make a GREEN (eeep!!!) puddle between the layers. Only good if you are doing a scene involving ALIEN INNARDS!

Maureen Melville said...

If you were not layering the glass would you still use such a big soldering iron?

Judith Schaechter said...

If I was using lead instead of copper I would use either and 80 watt iron or put the big 'un on a rheostat. Lead melts at a much lower temp.