Custom stained glass & window film
The founder and president of Discourse.org, Jeff Atwood, approached us with a request to design an original stained glass window for their office and to also adapt that design into a static cling that they could give as a gift to their clients and business partners. In this post, we will go over the steps in that process and provide some insights into each one.
The first step in creating a lead came stained glass window is to work with the organization's designers to come up with a design that is both visually appealing and practical to make in stained glass. It is important to consider factors such as the size of the window, the colors that will be used, and the type of glass that will be required.
Once a design has been approved, the next step is to cut the glass pieces. This involves using a pattern to trace the shapes onto the glass and then using a glass cutter to carefully cut each piece. This can be a time-consuming process, but it is important to be patient and precise.
If the design includes elements too detailed to achieve with cut glass alone, there are several ways to incorporate those elements. For this project, since we wanted crisp lines, we used a silkscreen process to apply the text to the glass. The glass is then fired in a kiln to ensure that the text becomes fused to the glass and will not wear off over time.
The next step is to assemble the glass pieces using lead came. This involves placing the pieces of glass into the channels of the lead came, which creates a frame around each piece of glass. Here you can see that a cross section of the lead, to see how it fits between two pieces of glass.
The lead came is then bent and trimmed to fit the shape of the design of each piece of glass, adding strength, rigidity and structure to the final panel.
Once the glass pieces are in place and the lead came is fitted correctly, it is time to solder. This involves heating up the lead came and applying solder to the joints between the pieces of lead came. This creates a strong bond that holds the entire window together. Even though it looks like we're nearly finished, there's still a decent amount of work left to do.
Now that the structure of the window is complete, we solidify the piece with window glazing. This involves applying putty between the lead came and the glass to create a watertight seal. The putty is then smoothed out and left to dry.
Patina & Polish
(We don't have photos for these two parts of the process on this design, but here's a quick description of each.)
The next step is to apply patina to the solder lines. Patina is a chemical compound that is applied to the solder lines to darken them and give them an antique look. The patina is applied with a brush or spray bottle and left to dry for several hours.
The final step is to polish the window. This involves using a soft cloth or brush to remove any excess patina and to buff the glass until it shines. This step is important to ensure that the stained glass window looks its best and is ready for installation.
Numerous factors can render an original stained glass window unsuitable for a client's requirements, such as cost, time constraints, or the quantity of finished pieces needed. In these situations, an alternative option is to use a window film that can be applied directly to the window. This film can be custom designed to feature the same artwork as the stained glass window (or as an original design), providing a similar effect at a lower cost. While there is a unique quality to original glass that can never be fully matched, our clients were thrilled to see how well the printed window film mimics the look of our original glass panel.