Good things take time. Sometimes, they take A LOT of time! And there are those processes that cannot be rushed.
Like the hand-made, sculptural copper overlays for a set of rustic stained glass cabinet doors.
Now, I could have gone the easy way – simply using the super thin, commercially available self-adhesive flat foil for stained glass. But I wanted to deliver something extra – my repeat customers are so important to me – I wanted to wow them. So, I went all the way: crafting meaningful sculptural imagery from flat, 24 gauge, raw copper sheet. This material will never peel off their doors, and allows for a more robust 3-D effect.
Time consuming as they are, there is no better method for fabricating a most durable, long lasting element that will continue to look better and more rustic as it ages. The process of creating these custom stained glass cabinet door overlays leverages metal smithing techniques of old – using torches and hammers to chase and repousse the metal into shapely relief. Each element is created with an abundance of care. No better way of getting into the detail than to hand cut each and every line using a modest jewelry saw and some hand files.
What, you say, no CNC machine? No prefab, template cutouts?
Nope. Using the meaningful images provided by the customer as a guide, the patterning for these complex objects were drawing by hand, and then traced onto raw, flat metal. The trick, of course, was not to get confused about what was positive and what was negative space when cutting. (Negative spaces are the very important open areas within the images that help give them their form – the open areas inside the outline of the fish – for example.) To cut out the metal from the inside, a hole needed to be created that would accommodate the saw blade. For that we used a drill press and a manual hand punch and hammer. Then insert the blade, secure the saw and away you go! Easy, right?
Any artist or jewelry designer familiar with the tool will tell you – it’s not quite that simple. About a dozen broken blades later – thank goodness they sell them by the gross (that’s 144) and I almost had the first image roughed out!
Needless to say – I picked up some speed over the course of this project – but the fact that there was no short cut or easy way through reminded me how important good form and skill building basics are! The more I rushed, the more blades I broke. The more I concentrated on the detail, the faster things went.
The fabrication of the copper relief patterns adds to the uniqueness of the art glass and delivers durable beauty for years to come.
Working with sheet copper always excites me! It’s a soft and stretchy metal (once you get to know it!) and being able to manipulate it to provide shape, color, texture and detail made it the perfect material to use on these rustic cabin cabinet door inserts!
This method can be used on either copper foil method or lead came stained glass projects, and helps to add intricate visual detail without creating an absurd number of tedious art glass pieces.
Creating custom stained glass cabinet doors and windows provides us opportunities to take art glass to the next level!