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
RELEASING A LAMP FROM THE MOLD
Bill Geller: Over the years, I’ve found that, as I worked on a larger
shade and was taking the shade off of the mold to solder the inside, the
lamp would get “out of round” and become somewhat lopsided
- even to some very limited extent. When I was fabricating the Pond Lily,
which is 36” in diameter and only 8” deep, I was faced with
the problem of removing a floppy shade from its mold and trying to keep
it perfectly spherical. After soldering in the top ring and bottom rim,
I came up with the idea to reinforce the shade even more, before releasing
it, by tack-soldering two large brass rims around the circumference of
the shade. I used large rims so that they would overlap the shade and
form a “metal cage”. When I took the shade off of the mold,
it was cradled and was given stability and rigidity by this cage. At this
point, I was able to solder the inside and not worry about ending up with
a badly shaped shade. After completing the inside soldering, I used 14
gauge wire to solder in eight vertical reinforcing wires and two horizontal
wires (following the design lines). As a consequence, when the shade was
hung, it not only hung vertically perfect, but when you looked at the
horizontal edge, there was only one line that you could see. I am sure
that I did not reinvent the wheel, but for those who may be unaware of
this technique, it might be helpful.
Lynn Perry: If you’ve installed a wooden base in the bottom of the
mold (for this procedure, go to “Fiberglass Molds”) here are
the steps to follow to release a
shade. Turn the shade upside-down and rest it on something tall enough
to lift the ring about 1/4” above the worktable and small enough
to fit inside the ring. (Small blocks of wood or metal jar lids work well.)
Through opposite holes in the wooden base, insert two 100 watt light bulbs
that are installed in porcelain bases. Angle the bulbs toward the center
of the lampshade and away from the inside of the mold to prevent heat
damage. Secure the angled fixtures and connect one fixture to the other
with heavy twine. Cover the mold completely with towels for insulation.
Turn on the bulbs and monitor the shade until the glass and the mold are
hot. Gently push down on the edge of the glass to loosen the shade. The
shade will slide off the form when the wax has melted. (If the shade is
getting too hot and will not release, turn off the bulbs to allow the
heat to become more uniform.)
Carol Conti:The last time I released a lamp - using the kitchen oven,
there was practically no wax left on either the inside of the lamp or
on the mold. The secret is to forget that you left it in the oven! My
oven was set at 150 degrees F and protected by a sheet of aluminum foil.
The lamp was left for about an hour. I discovered that all the wax had
dripped down to the aluminum foil that lay under the mold, so all I had
to do was use paper towels to wipe down the lamp and mold.
Bob Plagmann: Since our kitchen oven isn’t big enough to release
a large lamp from its mold, I put it into a plastic trash bag. Holding
the top of the bag slightly closed, I stick a hair dryer into the bag
and heat the shade, moving the hot air all around it. When the shade is
hot, I run a thin knife blade completely around the bottom edge, between
the glass and the mold. Hold the mold upside down and by pushing against
the bottom edge of the mold, the shade will lift up and out.
Gene Price: I was frustrated when I attemped to release my lamp in our
kitchen oven, so I placed it on top of my light table. (The light table
is lit by four 60 watt bulbs.) Within an hour the 18” Peony was
free from the mold.
Judy Thompson: Use a hot air popcorn popper to remove a lamp from its
mold. It takes only 5 to 10 minutes for smaller lamps to release. For
larger shades, cut a hole in a large box to allow the popper to sit on
the floor and then place the mold on the box. This works great and doesn’t
affect the popper at all!
Bill Callow: An electric paint stripping gun (kind of like a big hot hair
dryer) also works well in releasing large shades from Odyssey molds.
Frank Becker: Find a box, somewhat larger than the mold and shade. At
one end, cut a hole 6”x6” in the side of the box. Put the
mold and shade upside down in the box and close the lid. Use a small heater
with a blower and blow hot air into the opening, but make sure not to
blow the hot air directly on the shade. The trapped air is heated quickly
so the shade will easily slide off the mold.
Joy and Audie Ammons: During a Missouri summer, we either set the shade
outside in the sun for a few minutes, or set it inside a car - making
sure to protect the car’s upholstery from melting wax. Another method
to use on smaller shades is to fill the mold with hot water and just wait
until the wax warms. On larger shades, put the shade in the bathtub and
fill the mold with hot water. (It doesn’t hurt to add hot water
to the tub, either.) In winter, we set the shade on top of the heater
in our workshop for a few minutes. 46
Deb Sossi: It was recommended that I use Soy Release to clean up wax,
so when we took the lamp out of the oven and released it, my husband put
Soy Release on the form right away - while it was still warm and all the
wax came off. There wasn’t a sticky place on it. The following day
after I soldered the inside of the lamp, I took paper towels and squirted
the Soy Release onto them and cleaned the inside of the lamp. I kept squirting
the Soy Release onto clean paper towels and it was amazing how all the
wax came right off.
When I "built" the lamp, I did not paint the form with Tacky
Wax. Instead, I placed "little balls" of wax under each piece
of glass. Some of the larger pieces had 3 and 4 "balls" of wax
under them. This also aided in raising and lowering pieces of glass in
relation to the ones next to them. Soldering also melted some of the wax
and I wiped it away when it was still warm so that I did not have huge
amounts of wax built up in the final cleaning stage.
Joan Bengston: I'd be afraid of using kerosene to remove wax because of
its combustibility. I use Acryli-clean wax and grease remover, a solvent
used by auto body repairmen to prep the surface of a car before painting.
SB Anthony: Instead of using kerosene to remove wax from the inside of
the lamp and from the mold, I use lamp oil. It has a pleasantly disgusting
vanilla smell, too.
Marialyn Salts: “De Solv-it” removes wax from the completed
lamp as well as hot kerosene does and is certainly safer to use.
Mary Ritter: I love Tacky Wax but hated trying to get rid of it after
a shade was soldered and released. My solution: put a piece of tape on
the back of each piece of glass, then put a small dab of wax on the tape.
After you release your shade, just flick off the tape/wax.
Barb Grollo: At the store where I teach, the owner, Pat Pecora warms up
her large kiln when a student is planning to release a lamp. We just place
the mold on top, and within 10 to 15 minutes you can lift it right off
the mold. There is enough heat to just take paper towels and wipe most
of the wax off. If it cools too quickly, you can always place it back
for a few minutes to get some more off. I also keep paper towels handy,
while soldering the inside of the lamp so I can wipe away excess wax.
I had some glass easels that had quite a bit of Tacky Wax left on them
from previous projects, so I decided to try some "Oops" - that
stuff they sell for removing dried up latex paint. The container reads
"for grease, wax, crayon, etc" so I figured I'd try it. It took
it right off.
Larry Cartales: We have taken 2 lamps off their molds in our kiln. First
we lined the kiln with aluminum foil. then heated the lamp to 200 degrees
and held it there for 10 minutes. The first lamp was a 14" Tulip
- cut very well and soldered together very smoothly. After 10 minutes,
the tacky wax had puddled around the base of the mold and the lamp lifted
right off. The second one was the 16" Apple Blossom. It was not cut
as well, so there were some gaps that the solder had run through. I think
it must have stuck to the mold, because the lamp did not move after the
first 10 minutes. We gave it another 10 minutes and still nothing, so
we raised the temp to 275 for a third 10 minutes. That was plenty of heat,
but the lamp still did not come off. By this time, I could tell it was
not a problem with the wax, so we turned it over and with my grozing pliers
carefully pulled on the mold while Patti Curtin held the hot lamp in her
gloved hands. It did come free and not surprisingly, there were big lumps
of solder on the inside. I simply attributed the difficulty to beginner
level workmanship. I am sure that the next lamp that student does will
come off the mold easier.
Jim Burgess was concerned that his 26” Oriental Poppy would be too
flimsy to work on if it was released from its mold before the rim and
ring were installed. After completing the soldering on the outside, he
turned the mold and shade upside down, put a heat lamp inside the mold
and wrapped the shade with towels to keep in the heat. At this point,
he experimented by waiting until the wax had melted just enough so that
he could pull the mold up a little from the shade. This allowed him enough
extra space at the bottom of the shade to attach the rim. After the rim
was attached, he turned the mold and shade right side up. Since the mold
was pulled farther down inside the shade, he was able to attach the top
ring. With rim and ring installed, Jim did the complete release of the
shade from the mold and was relieved to be able to solder the inside of
his sturdy shade!
Marie Jo Murray: To release a lamp from its mold, I use a single burner
that I place under the mold that sits on top of four blocks of wood. I
lay newspaper below the mold to catch the melting wax. The burner is set
on high for two minutes and then shut off. After five minutes, even my
28” lamp could be lifted off the mold. While the lamp and mold are
still warm, I wipe off any excess wax. I also use the burner to melt animal
glue when I make glue chip glass and to melt shoe polish that I use to
“distress” picture frames. I bought the burner at a garage
sale for $1.00!
Pierre Leblond: For an easy solution to releasing a lamp from its mold,
I simply fill the mold with very hot water from the tap and wait for about
5 minutes. I put on rubber gloves and then, by applying a gentle downward
and twisting motion between the shade and mold, they easily come apart.
While the mold is still warm, I can immediately wipe off what remains
of the wax with paper towels.
Lynne Salcetti: After a lot of tugging and maneuvering to release shades,
we found that if you flip it over on its ring side, you can just slide
it up and out of the mold and not have any distortion of the shade. (I
always solder the ring in while the shade is still on the mold, but I
check the mold first with a level.)
Nichole O’Neill: On the 22” (tucked) Peony I didn’t
pre-install the rim since it doesn’t position well within the lamp-edge
contour. (I did solder in the ring before releasing the lamp from the
mold.) Leave an unsoldered seam around the widest circumference
and leave three vertical seams open in the lower tucked portion. With
the lamp in the right side up position, heat one lower section at a time
with a heat gun (or high-powered hair dryer). The band pries off when
hot - about 5 minutes. Repeat with the other two bands. Place the lamp
upside down and rest the top of the mold (inside the ring) on a piece
of wood. This allows the ring and shade to be suspended about !/2”
from your table. Cover the table with a piece of styrofoam to cradle the
shade when it is released. Cover the mold opening with a piece of wood
to keep the heat in and aim the nose of the heat gun to the inside. Put
a towel around the heat gun to keep in the heat. The air intake should
stay outside the mold. Re-position the heat gun occasionally to avoid
hot spots. In several minutes, the lamp will be warm and can be pushed
down off the mold.
Teresa Mesina and Valinda Gillis: Since tucked shades are released in
two pieces from the mold, try installing the rim of 18” shades while
the lamp is still on the mold. This reinforces the more flimsy lower portion
of the lamp. After releasing the two sections, complete your bead soldering
on the lower portion - both inside and out. Now, set the upper portion
upside down on the worktable. Now, since the lower portion is sturdy,
it is easier to place and hold it in position as you solder it to the
main portion of the lamp.
Joy and Audie Ammons: When we remove shades with a tucked bottom - such
as the 22” Peony, we apply strips of masking tape to several of
the vertical seams that run from the widest point of the shade to the
bottom. (These areas are found every 6 to 8 inches around the bottom.)
The masking tape serves two purposes: it reminds us not to solder that
seam and it keeps solder from dripping onto that seam. We solder the ring
to the shade while it’s still on the mold and then solder all exposed
seams of the lamp. Once that is done, remove the masking tape, heat and
“ease” the areas away from the mold and lift the shade off
the mold. Turn the shade upside down and ease the areas back together.
Solder the seams that were left open and then solder the rim to the bottom
edge. The bottom wings and ‘noses’ of the 22” Dragonfly
are slightly tucked. We solder on 3 or 3 1/2 repeats of wings before we
remove the lamp from the mold. When heated, the lamp can be removed quite
easily from the mold. Once it is off the mold, you have a good starting
point and angle to add the rest of the wings and ‘noses’.
We also add the eyes at this time.
Deb Bowen: Much thought and caution must be taken when it comes to soldering
a tucked shade. When it’s time to release the two parts, pull the
shade off the mold in two different sections after marking the top and
bottom sections so you know exactly where they should line up. To mark
the sections, I use a Sharpie and write in big numbers so that the number
flows from the top section down into the bottom section. This way you
can line up the numbers exactly - once the top section of glass comes
up and off the top of the mold and the bottom section is released from
the bottom of the mold. I add the rim to the bottom of the shade while
it is still on the mold. The rim gives more support to the lower rows
of glass. Make sure that you solder on the rim at a vertical seam so that
you won’t tear the foil.
Larry Cartales: Before fluxing and soldering the outside of a tucked shade,
I have students wrap the seam (that they don’t want to solder) with
black electrical tape. It not only serves as a ‘reminder’,
but it will keep any unwanted flux from getting on the foil and sucking
solder onto that seam. The electrical tape comes off easily and does not
disturb the foil. Hopefully, all foil was burnished well! Here is another
tip: since the brass rim is thicker than the glass, I always have our
students release the upper and lower sections of the lamp from the mold
before attaching the rim. Yes, the lamp is a little flimsy, but you will
be able to center the rim on the lower edge of glass. (We use old-fashioned
wooden clothes pins to hold the rim in place. The rim might look too ‘thick’
before it is attached, but once in place, it gives the shade a beautifully
smooth finished lower edge.
Pierre Leblond: Here are a few suggestions about tucked shades that I
give my students:
•Start foiling the bottom row of glass pieces at a corner that is
not facing outwards in order to avoid tearing the foil when the shade
is released from the mold.
•To avoid getting solder between the two sections of a tucked shade,
I just stuff the left-over backing of the foil into the gap. There is
•To help my students decide on colors for their lamps, I use ASGLA
calendars to show them photos of different interpretations of the same