Stained Glass

Have I ever told you guys I work with stained glass?  After four years, it’s getting a little difficult to remember what I’ve brought up and what I haven’t.  I can’t even remember what I ate for breakfast, so there’s not much hope of that changing.  Anyway, let me tell you about my glass work.

It all started many years ago when I was a loan officer for a credit union.  I had a long drive to work, and on the way was a stained glass shop.  I would always admire the projects hanging in the windows and I thought to myself that one day I’d take a class and learn how it was done.  That went on for a few years, then I quit my job to stay home with the kidlets.  I never lost my interest in glass, but honestly the idea of having sharp glass around the little ones was a little too terrifying.

Ten years ago, I happened to skim through our local community college’s list of non-credit classes, and there it was – Stained Glass for Beginners.  I showed up for the first class to find only eight students, including myself.  By the second session we were down to six.  One of the girls said she was only there because her grandmother had bequeathed some glass tools to her, and her friend came along because her boyfriend worked for a window company.  I was the the lone student on the last day.  Ours was the second-to-last time the class was ever offered, so I’m glad I took the opportunity when I did.

Our instructor was a guy who looked like he belonged on a beach somewhere.   He started class by telling us a story of dropping a piece of glass and splitting his foot between his toes, as a warning to wear sturdy shoes.  He stood in front of us in flip-flops.  However, he was an excellent teacher.  In contrast to my fear that my kids would get within 100 yards of anything sharp, he was teaching his 7-year-old twin boys how to cut and solder.

My first project was this sun, which is still hanging in my dining room.  I love that beautiful, swirly glass…

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The next thing I tackled in class was this coffee cup.

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Starting a third project was a little ambitious, but I was hooked and I didn’t have any of the big tools of my own yet, so doing it at home wasn’t an option.  I finished this candleholder just as my instructor was packing up his stuff.

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By the time Christmas came that year, my sweet husband had made sure I had the tools I needed to work with glass at home.  I made this hummingbird for my daughter.

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And Spiderman for my son.  This was a tough one because of all those skinny fingers.  Of course, later the kids both decided they had outgrown these and gave them back to me, but Spidey hangs above my craft room door.  All that work was NOT getting stored away in a box somewhere.

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I made this fairy for my grandma.  I was so happy with the way she turned out.

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I made a few more things from patterns I had found in books or online, like this brown bear who is an all-time favorite of mine.

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But then I got brave and started creating my own designs.  I started with fairly simple projects, like this mountain.

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I really love making things that are three-dimensional, so these flowers sit on top of the fan, as does the tree on the mountain above.

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Another design feature I really like to use is curled wire, like this pumpkin’s tendrils, so I use that one quite often.

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I started to get brave, and made my daughter this flip-flop Zen garden.  She’s held onto this one so far.

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You wouldn’t know it by looking at it, but the light shade over my dining room table is probably the most difficult glass project I’ve ever made.  It looks simple, but the beautiful red glass that had me under its spell wanted to break everywhere except where I meant for it to.  These were supposed to be solid panels, but if you look closely you can see that I had to add some seams to fit some pieces back together.  Fortunately, it’s much more interesting this way.

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In addition to everything here, I’ve made lots of gifts, jewelry and Christmas ornaments.  My most recent project was this candle holder for an Etsy teammate in a gift exchange I participated in…

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…two years ago.  That’s right.  All my glass supplies have been sitting collecting dust for over two years.  Glass is like fabric – it’s pretty, so I would buy it without a thought to what I might do with it.  I have a large box of glass and everything I need to make something.  Or several somethings. 

Now for the big question:  Have I cut myself?  Oh, yes.  More times than I can count, although never so badly I’ve needed stitches.  I’ve also burned myself and probably added a little extra lead to my system.  But I keep coming back.  I think it’s time to break out the glass again.

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Friday Favorites–Glass

A week or so ago, I posed a question on Facebook asking for any Friday Favorites topics readers would like to see.  In between the crickets, my own sister piped up with two great ideas.  One was the planters I shared last week, and the other was glass, which happens to be one of my favorite crafting mediums.  One of these days soon, I’ll show you some of my stained glass.  Until then, thanks to my sister, here are some glass crafts.  If you’re anything like me, have some band-aids handy.

This first craft is incredibly simple, but I really like the contrast of the shiny glass to the rustic jute rope.  Crafted Spaces shows you how to make this Recycled Glass Bottle Vase for yourself.

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I like how this Wall Hung Test Tube Vase from Dream a Little Bigger spreads the bouquet out horizontally so you can see the individual flowers better.

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If you’d like to make this lovely vase from Hannas Sjarmerende Gjenbruk, you should probably grab this style of light bulb while you still can.  I wish I had napkin rings that were this pretty to use too!

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By now, you’ve probably seen the glass staining methods using Mod Podge or glue and food coloring.  They’re pretty, but you can’t actually put any water in them.  These Stained Bottles from Design Folder require actual glass paint, but once they’re dry you can put anything inside.

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Homework did a great job imitating milk glass with her DIY Faux Fenton Hobnail Milk Glass tutorial.

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I would take these Bottles to Vases from Can Can Dancer a step further by cutting the bottoms off and using them to cover a small candle.  The light shining through the blue stripes would be pretty.

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I love everything about this Glass Tile Tree Mosaic from Happy Hour Projects.  I clearly need to find some Mod Podge Dimensional Magic, now that I know it exists.

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I will be trying this technique from trickygirlb on Crafster to make crackled marbles.  My only concern is having them explode in the oven.  Extreme crafting, anyone?

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Living in the woods, as we do, we have a lot of birds hanging around.  I think they need a Wine Bottle Bird Feeder like this one from Chicken Street

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Mercury glass is everywhere right now.  17 Apart shows you how to make it yourself.

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It looks like my next project will be to, ahem, empty a few bottles.  It’s my duty as a crafter to reuse containers whenever possible, and not waste the contents.  Right?

Etched Glass Jars

I’ve wanted to try glass etching for years.  It just never seemed to make it to the top of the list and, frankly, I thought it was harder than it actually is.  Apparently this was the year, because after buying the wrong product, then using the right product on the wrong type of glass, I finally nailed it.  I want to etch everything now.

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I found these jars at the dollar store and decided for the price it wouldn’t be a big deal if I ruined them.  They had that nice framed area on each side that was just begging for embellishment.

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I used this Armour Etch glass etching cream.  You’ll know you have the right stuff if it has warnings on every side that basically say not to touch it, breathe it, stick it in your eye or look at it wrong.  Oh, and it may be fatal.  Fun times.

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To make the stencil, I used some ugly, old Contact paper.  I guess there was a day I didn’t think it was ugly, since I own it, but this is not that day. 

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I cut out the stencil with a razor knife.

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I peeled off the backing and applied the sticky side to the jar.  If your design is very complex or your glass is very curved, it takes a bit of patience to get the stencil on straight.

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I applied a generous coat of etching cream inside the stencil. 

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The instructions on the jar say to leave it on for one minute, but after the glass block fiasco, I left it on for an hour to be safe.  I don’t know if it helped, but it didn’t hurt.  I also wiped a bit off to make sure it had worked before washing the whole thing.

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I did have a few small spots that didn’t etch, so I carefully brushed cream onto those areas and let it sit for another hour.  That did the job for most of it, except for one spot that just wouldn’t take.  It isn’t very noticeable, and one out of twelve panels isn’t bad.

My favorite jar turned out to be the one where I etched the negative space around the pictures, instead of the pictures themselves.  This is the one I gave to my sister as a hostess gift on Thanksgiving, full of Spiced Chai Tea Mix.

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I was curious whether this would work on mason jars, so I tried it on this one.  I love it so much I don’t even know what to put in it.

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Join me again on Wednesday and I’ll share my Spiced Chai Mix and Salted Caramel Cocoa Mix recipes I used to fill these!

Glass Block Bookends

They say it’s not about the destination, it’s the journey that matters.  Or something like that.  For me, when it comes to crafting, I think it’s mostly about the destination.  I usually enjoy the process, but there better be a prize at the bottom of that cereal box.  There almost wasn’t this time.

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Since it’s about the journey, I’ll fill you in on how this disaster turned into a win.  As part of my living room makeover my husband built new shelves on both sides of our fireplace, along with a massive mantle.  That’s a lot of places to put stuff.  I, however, am not good at figuring out what stuff to put where.  For that reason, I’ve been very slow to fill those shelves.

The one thing I knew for sure I wanted was some books.  Pretty books.  My daughter had recently discovered a leather bound classics series, so I started collecting them.  As you can see from the photo, I’m still working on that, with ordinary hard covers with the jackets removed standing in for now. 

Speaking of standing, even big books fall over, so I set out to make myself some book ends.  I’ve used glass blocks before, like on my Glass Block To-Do List, and I happened to find some that were the perfect size.  I planned to use glass etching cream to add some sort of design.  So I bought this.

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Just so you know, despite the fact that it says “Etch windows, glass, mirrors and styrene” on the side, this is NOT glass etching cream.  If you look very closely, it says “etched glass look.”  It’s paint.  Poor packaging and almost no instructions, so I took it back and sought out a different brand that is actually etching cream.  I’m almost over it.

After some brain storming, my son and I came up with the phrases you see on the blocks in the photo.  I printed them out on paper, taped that to some old Contact paper, and spent a couple of hours painstakingly cutting them out with an Exacto knife.

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I carefully centered each one onto a block, after keeping track of the center of letters like a and o.  If you’re interested in using these words for a project, you can download the PDF here.

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I applied the etching cream according to the instructions and left it on for 60 seconds.

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I rinsed it off, removing the stencils as I did.  I set them aside to let them dry and this is what I came back to.

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Yes, they are almost blank.  After some foot stomping, I grabbed the etching cream and brushed it on freehand, since my stencils were toast.  I left that on overnight, which turned out like this.

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I think the problem is that the etching cream bottle says it doesn’t work on Pyrex (although I’ve seen many comments online to the contrary) and these are probably similar.  Now what?  Put them in the sewing room and ignore them for a couple of weeks, that’s what. 

My next genius idea was to buy a couple of sheets of vinyl and cut out the words with the Exacto knife.  I came to my senses before I even attempted that one.

I moved on to glass paint.  What harm could I do at this point?  I bought a paint pen and followed the outline created by the etching.  They aren’t perfect, but unless you get up close, which isn’t going to happen often, you can’t really tell.

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These blocks have a plug, which can be removed so you can fill them with something.  I thought of several options, but finally settled on The Black Marbles.  When my husband and I were first married, we bought some clear table lamps.  We thought they’d look great filled with black marbles, so over the course of a few months, we gathered about 40 pounds of them.  We always said if someone broke into the house we were going to throw the lamps at them because those things weighed a TON.  The lamps are long gone, but the marbles made a great black backdrop for the white writing on my bookends and the added weight is actually a plus here.

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I think I appreciate this project just a little more because the road to get here was long and full of bumps.

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Maybe that means it really is about the journey…even in crafting.

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