This is not a travel blog. Unfortunately I have been squirreled away at work for 6 months and cannot go anywhere. In addition it is winter and I am working the 7pm to 7am shift so I need something to keep me busy on the those nights off when I am sitting in my room wide awake at 4am.
I can't remember how this idea started, probably at an art fair. I have been looking for a new defining hobby that I can call my own. I consider myself a creative type in thought, but that does not translate to the pencil as I can't draw to save my life. I needed something abstract, which led me to mosaic glasswork. I went to a store and invested $200 in supplies. It then sat in my room for 2 months as I let the inspiration mature (read lazy).
December rolled around and I needed to come up with Christmas presents. I do not like to buy presents unless they are donations, so I needed to accelerate my creativity. I whipped out a few projects and sent them off to friends and family. Nothing I was really proud of, but something to get off the blank page if you will. It took lots of experimenting, watching Youtube videos, reading articles and hanging out at craft stores to get the process down.
I decided to do a blog on the process, not really to show you how but more as a cheat sheet for me in the future when I forget what I am doing. I started out with glass on glass (kinda like stained glass, but more abstract). I will describe the difference in that process at the end of the blog and link to some examples. It proves to be a bit more complicated then below.
Here you will see how I create glass on wood to be hung on a wall. You can really explore all types of mediums. You can do mosaic backsplashes, candle holders, pots, jewelry cases, etc. I was inspired to try wood after coming across a lady in Michigan that teaches classes in Ann Arbor. Here is her website with some examples of the incredible work she has created. Glass Shack Studio
The first thing I do is get a piece of wood. I go to Lowes and get some 1" Oak plywood. I then have them cut it into sheets, which they do for free, but they do seem to get annoyed with me as I am having them cut the wood into such small shapes as opposed to 4 and 5 foot sheets. Last time I was in there I told them I was building a spaceship and that seemed to silence them.
I then put a sawtooth hanger on the back and some felt bumpers that I pick up at a framing store, or any hardware store. Below is a picture of the prep work for the wood. Since I am doing this picture with a black background I wanted to paint the sides of the wood black. I use the tape to separate the black from the white I paint on top which allows the glass to pop a bit more.
I usually draw my picture from some inspiration I see in other art or pictures I have taken on my travels. I am interested in Latin America of late so I look for ideas there. This one I actually stole from a Diego Rivera painting.
Once I draw the image, I color it in with crayons in a fashion that mirrors how I think I might cut the glass to see if the shapes are possible.
Next I take a few of these drawings and head to a glass store. This is the one near me Delphi Glass . I walk through the warehouse looking for 12"x12" pieces of glass that closely match the colors I need. They run about $8/sheet.
Once I get home I cut up some the larger pieces to more manageable sizes shown above. I am not going to go through te cutting process because I am not that skilled with a camera and dont want to put up a video at this time. But basically I use a scoring tool
to cut the glass and something called running pliers
to break the piece in half, then use nippers
to break them into smaller pieces if necessary. I begin to lay out the pieces. on the board and try to make it resemble the drawing from earlier.
Once I have the entire wood covered I use glue to adhere the glass to the surface of the wood. I use a silicone glue that dries clear. It is not as important that the glue dries clear when working with wood, but when working on glass it is imperative. It is also important to make sure you do not use wavy or warped glass on glass because the grout I am about to show will ride between the 2 pieces of glass and ruin the design when hanging in a window. In addition with glass on glass you want more translucent glass wheras glass on wood should be a bit more opaque.
I originally picked up a lot of my supplies at an art store but found I can find most of it at Home Depot for a fraction of the cost. I use a sanded grout that comes in half gallon jugs for $10. There are an assorted variety of colors but if they do not have the one you want, just buy some white and then throw acrylic paint in during the mixing process. There is sanded grout and non-sanded grout. If the spaces between the glass is larger than 1/8 inch you want sanded as it bridges gaps better, basically buy sanded, the other is for fine tile work. I mix about 1 & 1/2 cups of grout into mixing bowl and add 1/4 cup of water or paint. Stir it for 5 minutes. Add more of each until it resembles a very thick oatmeal texture. Then spread it across the the design, filling in the cracks and let sit for 10 minutes.
Now grab a sponge and some water. Begin wiping off the picture until the picture begins to show, being careful not to disturb the grout in between the cracks by wiping to hard. Once the grout begins to dry and you feel you have got a majority of it off, switch to an old Tshirt and start wiping the pieces individually. I then begin dipping Tshirt in rubbing alcohol to clean any excess glue and grout. This whole grouting process should take about an hour.
Once it is clean, then grab some grout sealer (liquid), quart jugs at home depot, and use a sponge to wipe across design. Do this 3 times with 1 hour in between each. This will prevent the grout from deteriorating over time.
Once you are done with that, you can hang by the sawtooth hanger you put on the back.
here is the one I did right before this one
If you are working with glass you follow a similar process but you need a way to hang the glass in front of a window and you cannot put anything on the back (like suction) because it will not only show through, but probably fall and break due to the weight. You will need to pick up some copper foil at an art store
Wrap the foil around the edge of the frame glass and then apply liquid Flux (adhesive that allows Lead to melt to the copper). Use some soder and sodering tool all the way around the glass covering all the copper. Then go to home depot or an art store and by a thin decorative metal chain. Wrap the ends of the chain in coppor and apply flux. finally soder the copper chain to the soder surrounding the glass. I know this is hard to picture so I will upload a picture next time I create one, before then just do it and appreciate the multiple times you screw it up before it works.
Here is a link to some other stuff I cut my teeth on in the early phases.
Until Next Time,