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
TOOLS, AIDS, ETC.
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
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
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
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.