Finishing Your Stained Glass Piece

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 42,006
    Stained Glass Artist Phillip McKee demonstrates how to finish cleaning stained glass to prepare it for display.

    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.

    Hello, my name is Phillip McKee from McKee Stained Glass. We have just soldered this frame together and now it is time to clean off the last of the flux and prepare this piece for display. The first thing we are going to do is clean off the flux from our corners. Since this is a water based flux, we can use a standard glass cleaner for that purpose. Do not scrub your patina, it may come off from the cleaner depending on its ingredients. Also, at this point, take time to look at your corners. If they are not as pretty as you would like, feel free to reheat your iron and attempt to smooth them further. Once we have patted that dry, time to polish our solder beads, the patina and the glass. To polish, we are using a magic wadding which is carnauba wax impregnated in a cotton wadding.

    You can also use liquefied carnauba wax polishing compounds, but then you will need to supply your own polishing cloth. You tear off a small piece of the magic wadding and lightly apply it to your solder beads and to your frame. This will add a glorious shine. Then using a clean towel, pat it on the solder and carefully clean it off of the glass. You leave it on the glass, it will create a cloudy appearance, that is not very attractive, but if you rub your solder and patina too strongly, you will remove the shine. Do this to both sides of the piece and it will be ready for hanging, if you desire, you can also take a diamond tip scribe and carve your initials into the piece as an enduring signature claiming ownership and that is how to make a complete Stained Glass Suncatcher using the copper foil method. You can apply these exact same methods and make a copper foil window of almost any size successfully.