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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How to Cut Stained Glass or...Why Am I Here?

     This is a blog post on how to cut stained glass using a scoring tool and running pliers. But it is also about something deeper than that. As I was working on transforming an old, wood window into a lovely piece of art (the above photo is one of the panes I completed), I began to see a correlation between stained glass and people. I know I am not the only artist to have thoughts such as these, as art is such a personal, emotional and spiritual experience. Plus, you have hours and hours to sit and think about things as you work. As you read along and gain step-by-step knowledge on scoring, breaking and fitting stained glass, may you also enjoy the encouraging insights God gave me through the process.
 First, let's note the parameters of the project itself. I was working on filling in an abnormally shaped area using scraps of textured, clear glass. You can see the completed area in the first photo at the top of the blog post. I have several bins of scrap clear textured glass, as you can see here in the photo:

In my bins of glass I have smooth glass, bumpy glass, many different sizes and shapes of glass, shiny glass, opaque glass, unique, simple, very beautiful and plain glass. People are kind of the same aren't they? From a purely external point of view there are many different looking kinds of people. From an internal perspective, there are many different types, ability levels, personalities and temperments in people as well. As an artist, I value all the different kinds of stained glass I have. God loves and cherishes all His children- because He made each one! He doesn't make mistakes.
Bumpy and Iridescent- pretty!

Plain glass
Even the smallest pieces are important!
Beauty is in the detail.

Clean the Glass
When using stained glass, the first thing I like to do is clean each piece using a paper towel spritzed lightly with water. Then I use a dry towel to dry and buff the glass. After you've handled the glass your finger prints will be on it. You may want to clean it again before you glue it down. As I was cleaning my pieces, of which no two pieces are alike, I thought about how God offers us a way to cleanse us from guilt and wrong doings. The Bible says that when we believe Jesus is God the Son who came down as a man and died on a cross as a substitutionary sacrifice for peoples' sins, and then rose again three days later to join God in Heaven, and then, in response we turn our hearts and lives over to Him, He promises to cleanse us, forgive our sins and give us a brand new heart, and eternal life in Heaven with Him. In fact, there is no sin dirty enough that God can not forgive. No person is too far gone that God can not make new.

Clean the glass

Fitting the Glass into a specific spot
This blog post does not cover how to cut out curves in glass. Every cut I made was a straight line. In the photo below you can see that I had a piece of glass that was too long and I wanted to make it fit into that triangular-shaped spot. Holding the piece in the spot where I wanted it to go, I got my ultra-fine-tip Sharpie and drew a line right where I would need to cut. Next, I scored the glass. If you don't know what that means, basically it means you cut through the top layer of glass using a special cutter that has a tiny, very sharp cutting wheel- kind of like a tiny, very sharp pizza slicer. Then, when you apply pressure along the score, much like a fault line in the earth, the glass will split right along that line. Running pliers are the tool you use to apply the pressure to split the glass. After that process, you will have the right piece of glass for the space you wanted!
      This step made me think about how God will sometimes need to cut things out of our lives or hearts so we can better fit into the work of art He has us in. It can sometimes seem unpleasant or we may not see the purpose in it at first, but if we trust Him, then we will reap the rewards of becoming more as He intended for us to be.
       See the photos below for more details on how to score and use running pliers.

Test out where you want the piece to go.

Ultra fine-tip Sharpie

Score along the line you drew with your Sharpie.
Don't begin or end your score on the very edges- you can chip the glass.
Press down and pull the small score wheel across the glass and you will
hear it make sort of a scratching sound as it scores. 

Running pliers have a little notch mark that you line up with
your score line. Make sure you have enough glass sticking out
on either side of the mouth of the pliers or else you may break
your glass to pieces. If you want to cut a skinny piece, you will
use something like needle-nose pliers to "pop off" your skinny piece
along the score. Running pliers are for pieces that are a bit wider.
Place the pliers about a 1/4 inch into the glass and use even pressure
to squeeze the handles together.

Now my piece fits right where I wanted it to go!

By the way, Sharpie comes off simply with a damp cloth or
damp q-tip and a little rubbing.

Odds and Ends
Glass on the garage floor
   At one point in working on my project I accidentally flung a piece of glass because my scorer slipped off the edge of the glass, causing it to shoot out like a jumping frog. The glass broke into several pieces once it hit the ground. I picked up all the pieces because I could still use them. Sometimes we, as people, go through something very difficult and may feel broken. The Bible says that God is near the broken-hearted and that Jesus, like a good shepherd, will leave the flock of sheep to go out to find that one, lost and broken sheep to bring it back with the others. None of us are left as trash.

I appreciate you, the reader, who stayed with this post the entire length of it. It was important for me, as a person, to share this information about God and the things He showed me, because it is of so much value to me. Blogs are a unique form of communication in that they convey information but they also come from an individual who has opinions, values and beliefs. Thank you for allowing me to share these truths with you. I hope you found encouragement from this post, as well as learned something about mosaic art technique!

If you want to look up any of the verses in the Bible that support the things I've said here in my post then here they are (I like the New Living Translation of the Bible because it is easier to understand):
1 John 1:9
1 Corinthians 15:3-4
2 Corinthians 3:16-18
John 3:15-17
Matthew 18:11-14
Psalm 34:18
Psalms 139 (the whole chapter)