More will be written soon about these very pricey, yet very important pieces of equipment......
So we were using this great flux for a really long time- Novacan's Old Master's Flux. Super effective, great flow, easy to use, yes. BUT. It was eating our fume extractors. Literally eating through the plastic. Apparently the main component in flux, zinc chloride, is corrosive to plastic.
As a result, we had to switch to using a zinc-chloride-free flux. To my research, there are only two available- GlasPro EZ40 flux (from ebay) and Studio Pro Safety Flux, found at Amazon and Hobby Lobby.
The thing you'd need to know, is that the EZ40 is sticky, like sugar syrup. Smokes a lot when heated, so good ventillation is essential for working with it (a fan blowing away from your work, and out a window is ideal.) You have to layer it on frequently while working. BUT, it leaves your solder seams shinier and brighter than I've ever seen with a zinc chloride flux.
Studio Pro's flux is more watery, so again, you'd need to just use more of it.
Giving yourself the chance to use a product, and figure it out is really key here!
Exciting news- Spectrum Glass was purchased by Oceanside Glasstile (OGT) in Carlsbad, CA. They have been a customer of Spectrum for over two
decades, and jumped at the chance to take over production. They have
decided to move the manufacturing to Tijuana, Mexico in OGT’s state-of-the-art facility. With their long-standing commitment to being an environmentally
concerned manufacturer, they will be utilizing the same baghouse emission
controls that Spectrum Glass has used for over twenty years.
I am am anxious to see Spectrum return! Stay tuned, as the first batches are
due to be available in Spring 2017.
After 40 years of supplying arguably the most cut-able, and most affordable
stained glass in the industry, Spectrum is saying farewell. Not only does this make me sad, but this shocking fact also scares me. A lot. At BHSS,
Spectrum glass makes up 95% of the glass we use because of both of these attributes. In a press release sent to clients in May of 2016, the company says, "“The decision to close our doors has been extraordinarily difficult. We
postponed it for as long as possible, and arrived at this conclusion only after
immense consideration. However, due to several factors, it’s no longer
financially feasible for Spectrum Glass to continue to operate." Their
production will end in July. Hopefully soon, Spectrum will figure out a way to
delegate the various product lines among other glass manufacturers. The glass companies that I will now have to go to would be Wissmach and Armstrong.
Both of these places offer glass on the low end of pricing, while still allowing for good cut-ability. Other companies, like Kokomo, Bullseye and Uroboros are
still a bit too high end to be used by our students.
Glass companies in general are being hit hard by new EPA regulations, as
many places that produce glass have been unintentionally allowing toxic
chemicals to enter the soils around the factories. The companies have to
switch to more environmentally-sound production techniques in order to
continue doing business. Let's hope this wrinkle in our craft industry gets
ironed out soon.
We've always used 60/40. Buy it from a stained glass retailer or from a craft/hobby shop.
BUY SOLID CORE ONLY, NOT “Electronic” or Rosin Core” from
hardware stores. It will make your project look yucky. Really yucky.
63/37 is a quick-set type solder. It's a little more expensive, and won't give you time to do a lot of touching-up. Stick with 60/40.
Don’t throw away the solder- re-use it, or save the scrap and bring it to a metal recycling place.
As of 2017, most 1LB rolls are around $25.
Mastercraft 60/40 stained glass solder
Studio Pro 60/40 stained glass solder
Lead-Free and 50/50 Solder
These behave differently. I had a former student come in with a roll of 50/50, to use on a project she was trying to complete in a day. The iron kept sticking, and she got frustrated. We realized that our hot irons, even at 900 degrees, were not hot enough to make the 50/50 bead like the 60/40.
As for lead-free, this type would be appropriate for making small jewelry projects. I would use a separate soldering tip for it, though, as lead contaminates
other metals, like silver, which is in lead-free solder.
For these two solders, use a temperature controlled iron, so you can make the tip hotter:
Hakko Adjustable Temp Iron
Here's a good write-up on solder types, published by Inland.
I recommend Glastar or Old Master’s. Buy only if labeled for stained glass.
Novacan Flux 8 oz.
Glastar Glasflux 4oz
And some cheap flux brushes
I use Novacan brand. It's the most common brand around for stained glass.
Novacan Black Patina for Lead
Novacan Copper Patina for Solder
I've always used 3/16" black backed foil. To me, it makes sense. The glass is
roughly 1/8" thick, which leaves about 1/32" (give or take) of wrap-around on
each side. Yeah, you've got to be precise. It does take practice, certainly.
You'll probably get frustrated sometimes, but the other option is to go up in
size to 7/32." You'll have more room for error, but you'll also have thicker solder seams. Which also means, more solder used. And well... solder isn't exactly
cheap these days. Most retail chains will charge you from $18 to $25. Less
solder, and thinner solder seams not only look nicer, but will save you some
cash. Save the 7/32" for when you make a big, heavy panel or a larger
Black-backed foil is great for those who use patina a lot, like we do (we use a
lot of opalescent glass, which looks beautiful with blackened seams.)
You can get the copper backed foil, but know that the copper color will peek
through the glass if you're using anything transparent- cathedral, wispy, clear,
etc. Silver-backed is always an option, but we use patina so much that black-
backed makes more sense for us to buy. Any of these brands are fine. We like Edco. It's cost effective for us. Venture Tape is a little thicker. Still good. Hobby Lobby, if you have one, sells Studio Pro products, so you can get it there
(always get a 40% off coupon though, before going in!)
Here are my picks:
3/16”: Edco Black-Backed Foil $7
Studio Pro Copper-backed foil $8 (HL)
Venture Silver-Backed foil $16 (includes shipping)
7/32”: Edco 7/32" Black-backed foil $11
Studio Pro 7/32" Copper-backed foil $10
For burnishing the foil, you can also get yourself a wooden fid, or you can
just use a Sharpie or a wooden pencil.
Check out my foiling tutorial HERE
Stained Glass Store or Studio
If you happen to be lucky enough to have a stained glass supply shop or studio within 100 miles of your home, take advantage! If you aren't so lucky, Hobby
Lobby retail store is the only craft store chain that I know of who sells sheet
glass. The benefit of going to a stained glass store is obvious- you can talk to
the folks in the shop who use it (usually, the owner/artist,) examine the glass
yourself and hold it up to the light, and....no shipping!
Warm Colors $$$ vs. Cool Colors / Neutrals / Clears $
If you want to keep your glass buying budget-friendly, stay away from warm
colors such as red, orange, yellow and pink. These colors use more expensive metals for their coloring (pink uses gold!), so these colors will be sometimes
double the price of all the others. Clear textures are really cool-looking, easy to cut, while cool colors and neutrals will be cheaper in the long run.
Window Glass Retailer
If there's just no glass places nearby, go for window glass shops next. Look
them up in the phone book (if you still have one of those.) They may offer
architectural window glass- clear glass in a variety of amazing textures and
patterns. They may be willing to get rid of some scrap glass to you for cheap
or for free. Always offer them payment, just the same.
If you've just got to shop online, your best bet is to go for "Variety Packs" of
Spectrum, Wissmach, Armstrong, or Kokomo. A few places do this, both on
their own sites, but also on eBay and on Amazon. Here are a couple of places I know:
Spiral Dance Art Glass Variety Pack 6 x 8
Sun and Moon 6 x 8 Variety Pack
Spectrum BLUE Stained Glass Pack 8 x 10 Sheets
Sun and Moon Stained Glass GREEN Variety Pack 8 x 10
Stallings Glass Blue Variety Pack
There are many other online shops too, just do a search.
You'll want to beware, though. Variety packs can surprise you, if you don't see exactly what you're getting. As for what size to get? Depends on how large of a project you're working on. If you're a beginner, go for small 6 x 8 pieces. If you don't mind spending more, buy larger pieces- 8 x 12 or 12 x 12. Glass traveling through the mail takes a beating (I know this firsthand from sending glass the wrong way) so the shipping is going to cost you. Sometimes as much as the
piece of glass you're getting. The more you buy at once, the better. Packing
several pieces together into one foam-lined box makes more sense than just
getting one sheet.
When we buy glass, we buy a whole shipping crate of it- somewhere around 60 full sheets at a time (2' x 4'.) Shipping cost around $250, and it's packed like a swaddled baby. But, we get it once a year, and it has to last.
It's pretty. No, gorgeous! And....you can't cut it!
I mean the pricey, amazing-looking glass brands like Youghiogheny, Uroboros, and Bullseye. WAIT to buy these. Get a lot of practice with less expensive
brands first. Maybe project #4 or #5. Then, go to town!
You get what you pay for! I prefer Toyo. They will cost $20- 25 for a pencil
grip; $25-35 for a pistol or a Thomas grip.
Warning- cheap cutters break. Snap right in half. I learned that the hard way. ;)
Toyo Pistol Grip cutter $33
Toyo Acrylic Pencil Grip cutter $27
Toyo Brass Pencil Grip cutter $34
Toyo Thomas Grip cutter $30
Now you'll need some tools for breaking the glass. I suggest these
Studio Pro Breaker Grozer Combination Pliers $13
If you have a Hobby Lobby Store, you should be able to get them there.
If you want to break mosaic pieces, you'll need a pair of running pliers, or
"runners," as they are sometimes called.
Studio Pro Running Pliers $13
Also found at Hobby Lobby. You might even check your local home
improvement/ hardware store.
The Machine Itself
Because our class is essentially a production facility, we use the top of the line models from Inland and from Glastar.
I used to recommend an Inland Wizling CG grinder, but the price on
them has gone up from less than $100 to closer to $130. New or used they are great. Used, just check eBay. Grinder bits come with new ones. They last 100 hours or so before they need to be changed. However, you can change the bit whenever you feel like it’s not sharp enough (when it's yours you can change
them every 10 if you'd like!) They should also come with a plastic wrap-around
“splash shield” and a face shield. Buy a putty knife/spatula for scraping out the reservoir as needed.
Here are a couple of lower priced ones I found that you might try.
Gryphon Gryphette Hobby Grinder $95 (cute, small, for light-to
Glastar Diamond Star Grinder $150 (good solid grinder for hobbyist)
Click here for the stunning array of choices.
In my classes, sadly, we have only enough in our budget to replace them every 6 weeks. We have 6 up and running almost constantly throughout the day. you can buy brand-specific ones, but I have found that most of the grinder bits out
there to be a pretty standard size to fit the motor shaft. We usually use 3/4" to accommodate smaller curves. Using 1" is fine too. We have one extra grinder
dedicated to having a tiny bit (1/4" or 1/8")
Here are my favorites:
Aanraku TWOFERS 3/4" 100/120 grit (You get two for somewhere
between $23 and $25. Good for us.)
Inland 3/4" Speed Grinder Bit (I'll set one of these up every once in a while, and they. Grind. Glass. Fast.)
Scroll on down for each tool's 'Post'......
HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE:
- Main Menu
- 'LadyBerz' YouTube Tutorials
- About the Teacher
- Berzins' Stained Glass Work
- Stained Glass Supply Buying Guide
- Jewelry & Metals Tool Buying Guide
BHSS Jewelry & Metals Class Work
- BHSS Stained Glass Class Work
- Stained Glass Style Comparisons