Finish Laying Out Your Stained Glass Pattern

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 27,553
    Stained Glass Artist Phillip McKee demonstrates how to lay out your stained glass pattern and prepare it for soldering.

    Phillip McKee

    As an artist, I work in the medium of stained glass. I have always had an interest in stained glass. From early childhood I was enchanted by the Middle Ages and especially the medieval church. Seeing the beauty of the windows was always a joy to me. It was with great joy that I studied Medieval History first at Yale University and later at Harvard. I even held a research fellowship at Princeton in 1993. Even though I studied economic and diplomatic history instead of Art History, I still managed to work my artistic interests into my work at every possible opportunity.

    But after all of that education, I chose to become a firefighter. Needless to say, this was not greeted with much enthusiasm by my family. However a firefighter's work schedule gave me the free time I needed and I was able to pursue my other passion -- glass art!

    Since 9-11, stained glass has become an even greater part of my life as I went through rehabilitation for injuries suffered at the Pentagon. Glass has provided me with a creative outlet that I have sorely needed during this most difficult time in my life and in the life of our country. It has also given me a new place in life now that I am physically disabled and no longer able to continue as a firefighter.

    I am also pleased to announce the publication of my book Make It or Break It; Stained Glass For Beginners as a CD E-Book by CWS Press. It is an innovative CD-ROM that allows for page-flipping and browsing just like a book but it can also be searched like a regular electronic document. The CD also comes with a free trial version of GlassEye 2000 and over 340 patterns in GlassEye format.

    And I am now the senior Stained Glass Art Instructor for the Arlington County Adult Arts Education Program at the Fairlington Arts Center. If you live in Northern Virginia this is a wonderful way for you to be able to study stained glass under my tutelage while remaining close to home! In addition I offer private lessons in my home studio.

    But I did recently return to my academic roots. In June 2004, I exhibited several pieces as a part of the "Visions & Experiences" Exhibit at the Yale University School of Art Gallery. If you did not have a chance to visit the exhibit while it was occurring, I have created a Virtual Tour. It is an executable file which can be downloaded and viewed on your computer.

    Hi, my name is Phillip McKee of McKee Stained Glass. Right now, we are going to learn how to finish laying out our pattern and prepare it for soldering. To do that, we are going to take additional Morton Layout Blocks and place them around the other edges of our piece. First, we put all of our pattern pieces that we have cut and foiled together inside. While we were doing this, as we moved across our pattern, we check each time to ensure that there was no excess growth from one piece to another. When there was, we took it back to our grinder and we ground it down a little, so that our piece did not grow outside the boundary edges of our pattern. When framing a patterns yourself, that is not incredibly important except for your desire to be perfect.

    However, when using a pre-manufactured frame or a wooden frame, if your pattern grows, it may no longer fit into the frame opening. So, it is important to know how to control growth. So, first we are going to take our layout block and using our L-Square confirm that we have a 90 degree angle which we do. Once again, we put it down and hold it with our pushpins. It is now pressed tightly against the glass to hold everything in place. The last piece goes in up top, check for square and pin in place. At this point, if you have done it right, your glass should not shift around, should be firmly held in place, but not be too tight and it should be ready for soldering. You can also look at this point where you see the final layout of each piece in relation to another and see if there are any gaps.

    I have intentionally included a few gaps, one here and one here, just so that I can show you what to do with this point to help cover that up. Gaps are caused by problems in grinding or cutting, you have accidentally removed too much glass. Since your solder beads will be the width based on what one edge of foil to the other is. If you have a gap, that can cause unsidely bulge in your foil. Care of this, simply take your exacto knife and trim away a little foil around the areas where there is a bulge. That way, when your piece is finished, it will look like your solder lines are the exact same width and you are cutting was perfect. You will need to do this on both sides, however you can trim the other side after you have flipped over your pattern piece. Next, we are going to move on to soldering our glass together.