Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tools for Soldering

Though primarily used for stained glass work, glass soldering can also be used to create unique glass jewelry and decorative items. Much of the method mirrors that used for metal solder work, but here is a basic explanation of the technique and tools needed to solder glass pendants.

To begin, you'll need a few tools used by stained glass artists. Most glass suppliers carry what you'll need, and luckily, most of the basic tools aren't very expensive. The Crafty Scrapper, Hobby Lobby, and The little Blue house are great resources for supplies.

Tools, Equipment, and Supplies for Glass Soldering:

Soldering iron and stand: Soldering irons are similar to the type of torch you might use for metal soldering, but instead of a flame, the end of the iron is heated through electricity. While it may not get as hot as a flame torch, it still gets pretty hot though, so it's a good idea to also purchase a stand to hold it. Most stands include a small sponge, which is kept damp and used to clean the end of the iron.

Copper foil: You can buy this by the roll. Foil comes in a number of widths and designs (such as scalloped) and has an adhesive back, so you can just peel off the back and stick it to the edges of your glass pieces.

Non-lead solder: Normally, you'll purchase your solder on a roll. There are a lot of different types of solder, but what is important to remember is that for jewelry, you don't want to use lead solder since it will probably be touching someone's skin. If you were actually making stained glass or maybe creating other types of glass pieces that were not to be worn as jewelry, then regular lead solder would probably be fine to use. It really depends. Some stained glass artists prefer to use non-lead solder no matter what.

Flux: Just as with metal jewelry soldering, you cover the areas you plan to solder with flux.

Brush: A small, inexpensive paint brush is perfect for adding your flux.

Burnisher: You need something to burnish your copper foil against the glass. I just use a wooden dowel or even a pencil or pen to do this. I use a popsicle/craft stick stick

Soldering basics

1. To begin with, you need to find a well ventilated work area. I usually have the ceiling fan going in my craft room or open a window.

2. Then set up your tools. You'll need to plug in your soldering iron and soak your solder stand sponge with water.

3. Take your copper foil tape, peal off the back (only as far as you are wrapping ). Wrap it around the piece of glass you wish to solder. The foil is very easy to manipulate, so just trim off any excess with scissors. (You can use an x-acto knife to even up any uneven areas)

4. Burnish the copper around the glass. This simply means to take something, such as a popsicle stick, and rub it against the copper foil so that it is as smooth and even as possible.

5. Set your piece of glass to be soldering in front on you, making sure it is on either a tile or a non-stick metal cookie sheet .

6. Use a small paint brush and brush your flux on all of the copper.

7. Now, take your roll of solder (remember it should be lead free for jewelry), and unroll a little of the solder.

8. In one hand, hold the end of the solder over the foil you just added to the glass piece, and in the other hand, hold your soldering iron.

9. Now comes the tricky part. You want to simultaneously hold the tip of the iron against the tip of the solder and move around the copper on your glass piece. Depending on the thickness and size of your glass, you may have to do one side and then the other side of the glass.

10. To add a jump ring or bale to your piece (remember you can solder metal to metal so you can use copper wire or silver too), just rest it up against the area you'd like it to adhere to on your copper foil, and drip some solder onto the area creating a "mountain". Then using a pair of hemostats to hold your jump ring solder the ring to the "mountain". Don't forget to flux your jump ring.

With a little practice, you will be a pro before you know it.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saddle up ladies and gentlemen because Paper Cow Girls is coming to town!

I am happy to announce I will be teaching at this years Paper Cowgirl art retreat! It is such an honor to be teaching with so many talented ladies. If you're not familiar with Paper Cowgirls I suggest you visit their blog and check out the amazing classes at:
Paper Cowgirl art retreat: June 11 thru 12, 2011