Construction / Molds
Scoring / Breaking Glass
Fitting The Glass
Solder / Soldering
Releasing a Shade
Ring and Rim
Tools, Aids etc.
Health & Safety Concerns
Selling Your Artwork
Bill Callow: Since the crown doesn’t follow the lines on the mold
of the Wisteria, here is the procedure he recommends to construct the
• Cut out the complete lamp using glass easels and a light table
to check progress.
• Foil all the glass pieces that will not be in actual contact with
the crown and attach them to the mold - hold off foiling the top pieces
that will meet up against the crown.
• Tin the crown only around its edges and at areas where the glass
pieces will be soldered to it.
• Place the crown on the mold before attaching the top glass pieces.
Decide on the closest fit after trying it at all three sections around
the mold and wax it in place.
• Do a “juggling act” with the top glass pieces as you
try to fit them to their approximate places around the crown. Some grinding
or recutting might be necessary.
• Foil these top pieces and wax them to the mold.
• Now, you can solder the lamp!
• Follow the branch areas that are shown on the pattern and make
a mylar “window” (cutout) for these branches that extend down
from the crown.
• Use wax to hold the “window” overlay to the lamp.
• Lay copper wire along the branch area that shows through the mylar
“window”. Temporarily, hold the wire in place with wax.
•Remove the window and solder the wire branches to the lamp. Build
up and thicken the wire with more solder to achieve the look of a branch.
Lynne Salcetti: When I worked on the 10” Wisteria, I used rubber
tipped pliers to CAREFULLY bend the branches down to fit the mold and
used a rattail file to clean up some of the rough edges. This was done
before I placed the glass on the mold. I’ve talked to others about
working with the glass and crown, so in the end, I used a combination
of several tips and did what was easiest for me. It was difficult to find
the matching branches on the mold because some of them don’t exist.
That’s where the re-fitting of the glass comes in. I cut those pieces
down to fit between the branches. I’ve talked to others who cut
them to fit under the branches, so you will have to make the choice.
Carol Conti: Odyssey's caps are brass and are not to be tinned...brass
will take whatever patina you apply. After patina has been applied to
a cap, we sometimes get an even better color by using a torch to heat
the patina. Using a torch to tin the ring is fine, but remember that the
outside edge of the ring is the only part that should be tinned since
that is the only area that will be soldered to your lamp's aperture. The
torch could also be used to speed up the tinning of the bottom rim. Odyssey
hardware and bases are exact replicas of Tiffany components. All cast
parts are made from high-copper brass, just as Tiffany employed. Odyssey
crowns are raw cast brass. The branches are cast in pure lead to allow
for bending to fit the contour of the mold, so they may warp or melt if
soldered. If you apply solder only where it is necessary to the (copper)
Spider Crown, the untainted (unsoldered) portion of the crown will take
a lovely patina. These cast parts should only be tinned at the spots where
they are to connect with your lamp's solder lines. The less you mess around
with solder on these parts, the more likely you will be able to achieve
that beautiful green/brown patina that will match your lampbase.
Mike Barnes: Before cutting out the pattern pieces of the Cobweb/Appleblossom
that border the branches, purchase the necessary cast branch work for
this shade from Odyssey. For an exact fit, overcut the pattern pieces
next to the castings, lay each pattern piece on the mold, position the
casting and then draw the border line along the casting onto the pattern
piece. After all your glass has been cut, attach each piece to the mold
except for the border pieces. Certain areas of the branches have cutouts
for your glass inserts.The casting insert glass will have to be installed
after the shade is released from the mold. Next, do a check of the branches
on the mold for fit and spacing and then tin the branches. To tin, I used
a propane torch and liquid solder (which has its own flux). Using pliers
to hold each branch, I applied heat, brushed on the solder and moved the
solder around the edge - tinning everywhere the foiled glass would come
in contact with a branch. (The copper plated branches are made of zinc,
so don’t hold the torch too long at any one place as it may melt
the casting.) The next step is soldering. Not wanting a smooth solder
line along the branches, I used a 100 watt iron and was able to achieve
a realistically rough look. After getting the branch casting hot, I slowly
moved the solder around the branch. Next, I tackled the gaps in the pattern
that are meant to be branches. I filled these gaps with solder. To rough
them up a bit, I used the corner of my iron and tapped it on these newly-soldered
branches. Before applying patina to the completed the shade, I had it
copper plated so that it would match the plating on branches.
Marie Jo Murray: In some Tiffany patterns that incorporate branches (ex:
Wisteria, Grape, Trumpet Vine), the instructions tell us to fill in the
branch area with cut pieces of glass that we’ve covered with foil
so that solder can be layed over this glass. To me, this seemed to take
too much time and effort, so for the very thin branches, I use copper
wire as a filler. For larger branches, I found that lead and pieces of
solder laid in the branch spaces would melt very fast and raise up, taking
on the look of thickness that we see in branches. This is a nice way to
use your scrap lead...it’s a lot faster to cut lead than glass to
fit those spaces. Also, it’s hard to build up the solder on the
glass pieces. Another idea is that if you have an air tool attachment
for your Dremel, you can use it to make design lines in the soldered branches.
Carol Conti: Because of their thickness, the turtlebacks can't be installed
until the lamp is off the mold. After soldering all the gridwork at the
top and bottom of the lamp,
the top ring and bottom rim are installed. Lengths of 8 gauge wire are
tack-soldered vertically to the top and bottom gridwork crossing the center
of each turtleback opening. These temporary bridging wires hold the top
and bottom gridwork securely in place as you release the lamp from the
mold. Make a cardboard template of the opening where the turtlebacks will
go. The template is your pattern that you follow to cut and fit each turtleback
to its opening. After foiling the turtleback, remove one of the bridging
wires and solder the turtleback in place. Continue - in sequence - removing
the wires and adding the turtlebacks.
Don Conti: When using turtlebacks of the same color as those in the base,
you can unify the whole lamp by placing a small light inside the base
to give form and color to the beautiful large turtlebacks in the base.
The bottom cover plate is removed and the lamp cord is removed. A second
hole is drilled in the bottom cover and the cord is inserted through the
new hole. The original hole is fitted with a 3/8" short nipple and
a short hickey. A keyless socket is attached to the hickey using a short
3/8" nipple. A short length of lamp cord - 6" or so - is threaded
through the hickey and connected to the socket. The other end of this
cord is spliced to the main lamp cord using wire nuts. Now, the main cord
is attached to an inside corner of the base in order to keep it from coming
in contact with the bulb.Screw in a small bulb and replace the bottom
cover plate. (A small light is the key - use a10 or 15 watt bulb inside
the base.) Affix a line switch to the lamp cord. Turn it on and enjoy
a nicely unified base and shade.
Carol Conti: Tin only the edge of the spider crown where the glass will
meet the legs. This way you'll be able to get a magnificent greenish coppery
patina on the crown. When I did this lamp, I learned that a wooden mallet
comes in handy after you've failed to line up the copper crown’s
legs to the mold. Also, hold off cutting and trying to install the top
smaller glass pieces between the legs until the end. I found it best to
cut them to fit the crown rather than fitting the pattern.
Peter Grotepass: About that problem of the 22" Dragonfly lower portion
(which is under the "equator"), I would solve that problem the
following way: 1. Don't solder a complete seam around the "equator".
2. Stabilize the lower portion with some wire cut from any metal coat
hanger. Make sure that it is bent properly to follow the form of the lamp
(ie. absolutely no tension on the wire) 3. Before heating up the mold,
attach the lower section to the upper section by soldering some (minimum
3, maximum 5) connections to make some "bridges" across the
"equator". Make the connections in the following way: Take a
single electrical connector and solder it near the equator on a seam of
the lower portion (cut the plastic off first). Open the screws and bend
a small piece of wire so that it touches a seam of the upper portion when
it is fixed with the connector's screws on the lower portion. Fix the
short piece of wire in the area where it touches a seam in the upper portion
by soldering it onto the seam. Try to get all wire end directions approximately
parallel. Mark both upper and lower wires on 1 of your 5 interim bridges
with red nail polish. 4. Now open all screws of the connectors and heat
up the mold. What will happen first is that the lower portion will drop
down. Leave it on the table where it is. Move the upper portion off the
mold and put it upside down on the table. Clean the mold up and put it
aside. Now take the lower portion of the lamp (with four hands!) and put
it back exactly in its old position by fitting all wire ends into their
connectors. Tightening the screws at this point allows you to put the
shade on a base to view it as it will ultimately look when lit. While
soldering the "equator", remove all connectors and wire ends.
Here’s an idea that Paul Crist hoped you’d consider when building
the12” Chestnut 42 shade. Solder wires along the veins of the leaves.
This will allow you to bring the leaves up and off the surface of the
mold so that they could be lined up. Paul even has a hole marked in the
design where the wires could be joined together. He emphasizes that the
leaves should definitely overlap each other. The leaves should have strong
edges and are not meant to be beveled so that they’d “fit”
the mold. As with all patterns, cut to match the reference copy...don’t
cut to fit the mold.
Kevin Hendon: Because of the unique irregular border and undulating contour
of the 22” Laburnum shade, its fragility should be of concern to
us. In addition to a 12 gauge lower rim, use Odyssey’s 12 gauge
wire to run three vertical lines and one horizontal line to reinforce
the inside of his Laburnum. The vertical wires cross the horizontal wire
and continue on to connect with the border wire. The horizontal wire was
run from three to five inches above the lowest point of the border. Now,
the shade is sturdy and doesn’t have the “play” in it
like it did when it was removed from the mold.