Stained glass workshop at Glassumimass
A stained glass workshop at St John’s Church in Washingbough, associated with though not part of Glassumimass, an exhibition of stained-glass lanterns.
I had no idea what to expect. Images of furnaces, molten glass, production of stained glass.
Er, not quite.
This was a session in production of stained glass panes.
I chose a wonderful complex piece.
No, no, I was told, far too difficult.
I also learnt I was looking at it the wrong way around.
We were given simple designs to try.
I decide to design my own piece.
A mistake, but I learnt the hard way. I also learnt, no way could I have achieved the complex piece I had laid my eyes upon.
First choose pieces of stained glass from boxes of off cuts.
Nothing goes to waste in the world of stained glass, stained glass is expensive.
This was where I hit the first problem.
Without choosing a large off cut of stained glass, I could not find pieces large enough.
Choosing colours was abandoned, I thought vaguely abstract sea, maybe blood red sky.
Now it was down to find appropriate size pieces of stained glass.
These found, next stage was cutting the pieces to my pattern.
Not as easy as it looked. I was not applying sufficient pressure to the glass cutter.
Straight lines not too difficult, but curves, and I had plenty of curves, much more difficult.
Breaking off the glass, once cut, was surprisingly easy.
But, my cutting was not too accurate the pieces did not fit together.
It was now a session on the grinder, a long session, to try and make up for my poor quality glass cutting.
It is also necessary to go all around each piece with the grinder, to establish a rough edge for the next stage.
But first, all the pieces to be washed and dried, to clean off any dirt and grease.
Next, apply a thin strip of copper tape all the way around each piece.
This was relatively easy, and practice improved.
Now already against the clock.
I did it too quick, the edges not centred on the tape.
Next smooth down the tape with a special tool, and the edges.
Now apply the solder.
Apply the solder, plus the copper tape, is what is known as the Tiffany process, named after Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933) of New York who developed the copper foil process.
This too was relatively easy.
I cannot say I am too happy with my final stained glass, but, it was a first attempt, not bad for a first attempt, and now I have the hang of it, my next piece will be better.
If nothing else, next time I look at a stained glass window, I will now have a deeper appreciation of what I am looking at, the skills involved.
Glassumimass exhibition at St John’s until 23rd April 2017. It will then tour other churches on the trail.
The exhibition is open from 10am to 2pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and from 12.30pm to 4.30pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
Washingborough is a small village three miles east of the city of Lincoln on the lower slopes of the limestone escarpment known as the Lincoln Edge where the River Witham breaks through the Lincoln Edge at the Lincoln Gap.