FAQ Index

Light Table

Construction / Molds

Choosing Glass

Pattern Preparation

Pattern Hints

Scoring / Breaking Glass



Fitting The Glass

Lamp Positioners

Solder / Soldering

Reinforcing Lamps

Special Considerations


Releasing a Shade

Ring and Rim



Special Applications

Tools, Aids etc.

Health & Safety Concerns


Selling Your Artwork

Workshop Renovations

Photographing Lamps


James Sadelfeld: To identify your work, you can buy identification brass “mini-plates” to solder to a lamp’s rim or seam from Brassplate Engraving Co., 1618 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis MN 55413. Their new phone number is 612-378-4775
Brad Berglund: I buy brass engraved plates with a size of 3/16”x1 1/4”. On these I have engraved my last name and a number that coincides with my lamp’s order of completion - Berglund 004 or Berglund 005. With a drop of solder at each side of the engraved plate, I solder it to the inside edge of the lamp’s rim.
Deb Sossi: My husband suggested we get an etching tool to engrave my lamp to formally identify it. We bought a Dremel etching variable speed tool and engraved my name, the year the lamp was built and the name of the lamp onto the lamp’s ring.
Walt Boepple: I use a vibrating engraver (similar to those police departments loan out to mark your TV’s etc.) It has a switch that allows you to adjust the amount of vibration you need to do the engraving. I write “Boepple” on a piece of the glass that is near the bottom of each lamp that I complete.
Ichiro Tashiro: In the past, I tried to sign my signature with many types of devices, but I could not sign properly. Now, I sign my signature with an oil-based fine-point marker and trace over it with an electric engraver. If the base glass on which I’ve signed is light-colored or transparent, I go over it again with the marking pen and then wipe off the excess ink that is left from the marker on the engraving. If the base glass is dark, I leave the signature alone so that it remains white.
Larry Cartales: I use a Dremel and diamond ball to write and then go over the signature with a gold sharpie pen. After wiping off the excess, this method leaves a nice fine line.
Joni Tornwall: If you are interested in a fusing solution to signing, here’s my method: I use Hanovia Bright Gold and a Kemper pen that has a little pot on it. I use a paintbrush to put a few drops of the paint into the pot and then write my signature with the pen. The engraved piece is then fired and comes out with a very durable, fine, bright gold line. In transmitted light it looks like a shadow.


Conrad Grobbelaar: The lamp that I am currently working on is predominately gridwork, so I decided to use my Morton cutting board to cut all these geometric pieces. First, I set it up to cut strips of glass and then I adjusted the cutting bar to the correct angle in order to cut the left and right sides. In just a few minutes I was able to start cutting and didn’t have to figure out the angles or match the pieces to the pattern again.The Morton System was indeed a time saver!

Mary Ritter: I bought a package of bronze wool and it turned out to be one of the best purchases I’ve made for my glass work. Because it is not oiled, I can use it for buffing and polishing without it imparting a coating of oil on the solder. Then, after it’s “uglied out” beyond its buffing usefulness, I pull shreds of it off and use it as filler for large gaps such as at the tips of dragonfly wings. Because it’s not steel wool but bronze wool, the solder wicks into it beautifully.

SB Anthony: In order to solder panel lamp seams together, I use duct tape to hold the panels in place. It works great and blocks solder run-through to outside seams.

Steve Bowen: Whenever I need to remove lacquer from brass, I use methylene chloride (furniture stripper). I use the aerosol and spray it on, wait a minute or so and then wipe it off. Once the finish is removed, it’s just raw brass, so you can patina it as you like. When you are ready to apply a finish again, you can use brass lacquer (aerosol). My latest trick for applying a finish to brass is to use wax (butchers wax). I heat the brass with a blow dryer and apply the wax with a cloth. When it’s cool, I buff it and apply another coat of wax to the cool brass and then buff that off. I like this effect more than lacquer since it has a softer, warmer glow. The other advantage is that it doesn’t yellow or break down like lacquer does.

A product that is used to tin brass, is a liquid lead and flux that is brushed on and then heated with a propane torch.

Joy Ammons: Since Soy Release is no longer available, my husband, Audie, discovered another product that does a good job of cleaning wax off shades. It is called Citristrip and is available at Wal-Mart in their paint department.
Jennifer Buckner: Instead of trying to remove a cracked piece of glass that’s shown up in your lamp, clean the broken piece with rubbing alcohol and then use XTR-311. This glue is runny enough to “wick” into the crack and make it almost disappear. This optical epoxy adhesive can be purchased from His Glassworks, Inc., 91 Webb Cove Rd., Asheville, NC 28804. Phone 800-914-7463

Try replacing the regular bulbs you’ve used to light your lamp with GE Reveal bulbs. These new bulbs offer a full spectrum of light, so you may be surprised at the new beauty you’ll see in your lamp!
Chaz Smith: If you need more bulbs in a lampbase, particularly for one holding a large shade, you can use a ‘Y’ adapter that allows you to put two bulbs into one socket. I’ve done this on older two-bulb floor bases so that I could run four bulbs and am quite pleased with the results. If a base has four sockets, you could put ‘Y’s in two opposing sockets and leave the other two unaltered in order to run six bulbs. Or you alter all four of the sockets and run eight lower wattage bulbs.”
Bob Tesch: Excessive heat doesn’t do most things much good - even a good roast dinner. The effect of four buibs depends on the total wattage of the bulbs and the ventilation provided in the top of the shade. With four bulbs and adequate ventilation, you would be able to keep the wattage to a minimum. I believe that with four high wattage bulbs, it would be possible to damage the shade. Even if it didn’t melt the solder, it would seriously shorten its life or stability.
Tina Kellogg: I always put a dimmer switch on every one of my Tiffany reproductions. This adds a little “mood” light when you don’t want a bright reading light and the lower wattage allows the lamp to give off an entirely different effect. And, if it’s a different effect you’re looking for, try Edison Replica Filament Lamp Bulbs. (We saw these bulbs in the Tiffany lamps at the Morse Museum in Florida.) Although they’re expensive, these bulbs give a beautiful golden “sun” glow when lit. Wow! What a difference a bulb makes!”
Ichiro Tashiro: The worst feature of fluorescent lighting is the flickering - at 50Hz, 60Hz or whatever, depending on where you live. I am not defending the fluorescent light, but the new fluorescent lighting system doesn’t flicker at all, since they use an inverter now that eliminates flickering. And, today, fluorescent tubes and bulbs come with different color temperatures and colors. You can even buy one that duplicates the color of an incandescent bulb. I think it is worth a try since they generate far less heat that regular bulbs do and they last a lot longer.

Chaz Smith: Recently, I bought some neat touch switch dimmer combos at Target. They plug into the wall and then the lamp plugs into them - right at the wall. They have a thin wire with a circular brass finish touch disk. Each time you touch it, it changes to low, medium, high and off. I like these, since all the bulbs turn on at once without having to pull the individual chains and they have a dimmer function. I’ve tried installing touch switches inside some of my larger bases, but their operation can be somewhat questionable, perhaps due to being enclosed in so much metal. When they do work, you can just touch any lead line and the lamp will come on.

Dan Rose: To shorten firing time in your kiln, take out the shelf and replace it with a sheet of corningware. Another material to make a form for slumping is Algonate.

Mike Barnes: Recently, I bought a pair of Fiskars Softouch Scissors for around $10 at Wal-Mart. They are about 5.5 inches long with sharp pointed tips and spring operated handles that are very manageable. These scissors are great for cutting out pattern pieces.

Joan Bengtson: I use a scalpel now, instead of an X-Acto knife to cut out patterns. Scalpels are carbon steel, sharper and last longer than the X-Acto blades. Hobby stores carry scalpels for model airplane hobbiests. Since the scalpel blades don’t quite fit the X-Acto handles, you should also buy the handle.


Shauna Palmer: Try using gold, white or black solvent based permanent paint markers to mark your glass (Faber Castell is a good one, you can remove the marks with acetone). The second best alternative method is china markers (you know those wax markers you peel down the side with a piece of string), they come in lots of colors. Paint markers are available at any art, craft or office supply outlet. China markers can be a little harder to find, but I have found them at major office supply outlets.

Mary Ritter: It is difficult to draw a visible pattern line on dark-colored glas and there are unending frustrations when trying to use silver or gold paint pens. One day I picked up a gold-ink Pentel gel pen (Hybrid Gel Roller) and gave it a try. I got a smooth, thin, effortless line that I could follow for scoring.

Barb Grollo: When I buy a full sheet of glass, I usually have it cut in half, just to make it more manageable. If I’ll use it for a background, I’ll mark both sides, either right or left, or up and down, so I can match the sections when laying out the pattern pieces.

Don Conti: Since heat helps patina to take, a quick way to prepare a brass cap for patina is to use a heat gun (which can reach 1000 degrees F) instead of a torch to heat the cap. Use a cheap disposable brush to apply the patina. You can buy heat guns (used to remove paint) from hardware stores.

Larry Cartales: Recently I tried fitting a wheel to a base and found that the machined area on the bottom of the wheel and the machined area on the top of the lamp base did not fit smoothly - there were a few small burrs or imperfections in each casting. The tighter they were turned, the more noticeable it became that they were not level. After I touched them up with a fine file, they fit well together.

Kevin Hendon: The telescopic Library base is beautiful! There is a slight drawback, however, with the mechanics involved in raising the base to increase the height. The turn screw on mine seems almost ineffective because of the weight of the 22” Tulip shade. I really haven’t figured out how to correct this so I just leave it lowered.
John Cannon: What if you figure out the added height you wanted to keep the shade at, removed the turn screw, and marked the telscoping tube of the base. Then drill a small hole in the tube to accept the end of the adjustment screw at that mark to hold the tube in place and keep it from slipping with the weight of the shade on it.
Chaz Smith: Perhaps, instead of drilling into the tube, put a dowel of the appropriate length inside the outer tube for the inner tube to rest on.

Chaz Smith: When twisting wires to be screwed down in a socket, twist them counter-clockwise instead of clockwise. (They still go clockwise around the screw, though.) This way, when you tighten down the screw, the twist in the wire becomes tighter rather than unwinding.

Don Conti: I purchased a 16” disc-shaped glass diffuser from a hardware store to attach to the underside of a 26” lamp. Since this lamp hangs above a dining room table, the diffuser takes care of those inevitable “glaring light bulbs”. It also seems to contain the light so the colors in the lamp show better.

Question by Mary Ritter: I’d like to know how I can make my new hanging shade more mobile so I could take it on field trips before I install it permanently in the ceiling.
Answer by Ernie Downey: Most lamp part suppliers have a vase cap with a receptacle built in that you install in the ceiling. It uses a hook in the center to support a lamp. You place a plug on the end of the lampcord and weave it through the chain, hook the chain over the hook and plug the cord into the receptacle. When you want to move the shade, just unplug and unhook. This allows you to move it without unwiring.

Don Conti: Any cheap base that you have to use, but don’t like the look of can be “fixed”. Spray the base first with “anodized bronze” (this is the brown color that you see on some aluminum window frames). Then get a tube of apple green acrylic artist color and wipe it on the base - a little at a time, using a slightly damp rag to wipe off the excess. The idea is to get the green into the crevices but not on the raised surfaces of the base. Since this may look too monochromatic, you can use a little blue in the green or other shades of green in conjunction with the original coat. When you’re satisfied, you can spray the base with a clear coat of flat, semi-gloss or gloss paint.

Joan Bengston: I use Rust-oleum Bar-B-Que black paint, heat resistant to 1000 degree F. I spread the mirror pieces out on newspaper face down and spray a couple thin coats of paint. It's effective as long as the mirror is well cleaned of any oily residue before painting and the paint is hardened thoroughly before soldering.


Marie Jo Murray asked the chat group for ideas about setting up a workplace for her student who is wheel-chair bound, but has a great attitude toward life.
Lorrie Gordon: If a student has a great attitude, then anything else is just problem solving! I’ve taught several people with physical restrictions, so I’d suggest a couple of things:
•putting the project board on a “lazy Susan” will make it easier for him to work on all sides of the project while sitting in his chair. I built something similar to this for soldering lamp projects by mounting a circle bearing (find it in a hardware store’s cabinet department) to a smaller square of plywood.
•arrange the work station in a “U” shape and create “task stations” on the three sides of the “U” - set up all cutting tools and surface in one section to make a “cutting task area”, do the same with grinders and soldering stations. People in wheelchairs can usually spin left or right easier than trying to reach down long tables.
•make sure that he has a long heavy-duty apron to wear so that solder drips will hit the apron and not his legs.
He’s lucky to have a teacher willing to share experience and you’re lucky to have an enthusiastic student.