Glazing the Middlebrook plank

Photos taken in the studio today, starting with tack-soldering the copper-foiled glass into the steel frame.

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and the flip side of the plank, with glass in place and ready to be soldered tomorrow morning.

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Plus one last photo of our fancy gloves…

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Read other posts about Jason Middlebrook‘s stained glass plank: the early drawings; welding and fabricating a steel armaturereinforcing the armature, cladding with copper foil, modeling the tree bark, taking templates and cutting glass.

Or come to Open Studio tomorrow, Friday Sept 5th, from 4-6pm

Open Studio Friday, Sept 5th 4-6pm

My latest artist collaboration: a stained glass plank for Jason Middlebrook. Come and visit my studio before it leaves for Chicago. All welcome (details below).

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photo 3 Above, still wrapping the armature with copper foil. Below, glasspainting.

Read other posts about Jason Middlebrook‘s stained glass plank: the early drawings; welding and fabricating a steel armaturereinforcing the armature, cladding with copper foil, modeling the tree bark, taking templates and cutting glass.

photo 4The glass on the left still has one layer of contact paper from the sandblasting. I’m painting enamel into the areas that were blasted.

photo 5Removing contact paper masks. After a little cleaning up, I kiln-fired each piece to fix the enamel permanently into the surface of the glass.

If you’re really interested, and live near enough, do come and visit my studio on Friday to see the plank before it leaves for Chicago.     Time: 4-6pm, Friday Sept 5th. Where: 359 Rue Madeline, Readsboro VT 05350. Email: or call me, area code 802, 423~5640.

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Steel & stained glass for Jason Middlebrook

photo 2Welding and grinding continues…

photo 4Richard has added reinforcing brackets at intervals around the perimeter of the armature according to the drawing to strengthen the whole armature and create a structure to support the bark of the plank.

Armature for stained glass plank; Jason Middlebrook and Debora CoombsNext, the bars, or “ferramenta” in stained glass lingo, which separate the painted glass panes. All have been cut and welded precisely according to Jason’s drawing.
photo 3The armature is complete.

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Next, I began wrapping every inch of steel with copper foil. See the ribbon-like perimeter with it’s reinforcing brackets.

photo 5I used 1/.4″ thick glass cut with an irregular chamfered edge to represent the outer cambium layer of the plank (between bark and wood). I wanted this to be flush with the surface of the glass panes. Concertina-like strips of bronze fill cavities in the armature to support the bark.

photo 5This was the first experimental section of the perimeter, copper-clad and sculpted with solder to resemble tree bark.

And here’s the glasscutting almost complete. I was engrossed and didn’t take photos…

photo 1-2..but Richard took a shot of me making the very last template.

photo 5-1Each pane was cut very precisely from a rubbing made from the armature.

Jason was excited to see the glass laid out over his drawing when he arrived on Thursday to start cutting masks for the sandblasting. Each pane was then sandblasted to create an incised area that was painted and kiln-fired with black glass stainers enamel.

photo 2-1Here’s the glass, laid over the cartoon. Today I’ve been glasspainting…. more photos to follow!

Lamps for Filthy Lucre


Hurrah! I finished assembling the lamps for Filthy Lucre this afternoon. Above: 296 pieces of hand-painted glass, framed and soldered into brass channel.


Initial attempts at attaching the top sections inside a salad bowl…


…with masking tape holding the pieces of glass together.


Moving on to a cut-down 5 gallon plastic bucket and some masking tape; Necessity is the mother of invention! With some jig-sawed plywood (circle inside, and octagon on top) we made a perfect jig for soldering.


More plastic bucket, cut into bands to hold the center barrel of the lamp together. I bought a little Hakko 601 soldering iron that would fit inside the lamps for finishing the final seams. At this point everything is just tacked with blobs on the corners. I’m using 60/40 solder which seems to work just great with the brass.

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Beginning to run solder the lengths of the seams. Notice the little jig screwed to the bench in the foreground for bordering the smallest pieces of glass. Also boxes of short brass channel.

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This is the bottom of the lamp (upside-down on the table), where one removable pane will be positioned for ease of changing light bulbs. The L-shaped lip, soldered from eight pieces, has to be perfectly flat to hold the loose pane neatly in position. Calculating the exact size of each loose-fitting pane took a little experimentation. It had to fit through the opening edgewise, turned to lay flush with the brass lip, and then stay there without falling out.

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Trying not to inhale zinc fumes given off when soldering brass.

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Awkward! All soldering must be done on the inside so that the exterior remains brass. The gold colour is all part of the spirit of Filthy Lucre.

photo 3The first lamp completed, with a lathe-turned poplar ‘neck’ that provides a conduit for the wiring.

Period Lighting Fixtures of Clarksburg, Massachusetts sheared and crimped all the brass channel for me , and Chris Burda (my lamp building guru) advised on techniques and procedure. I learned a lot!

Filthy Lucre is the major artwork in Darren Waterstone’s upcoming exhibition Uncertain Beauty at MASS MoCA. Watch 2 min video with photos of Whistler’s original and some of Darren’s drawings, or  his interview with Berkshire Fine Arts.

A joyful mess -the final stage

The window is at last finished. The final stage, cementing and waterproofing, was a joyfully messy process of covering the panels with a putty-based slurry and polishing everything to perfection.


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..more geometry

This is the center top panel, the Nativity star.

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Geometry: beautiful and fiddly

Stained glass tracery at the top of my window for Trinity Episcopal, Branford CT. Assembling the painted glass into a matrix of lead channels. Soon to be installed, the window will be dedicated on November 30th.

Last of the roses…

…to be glazed (leaded-up) and the last of the six figurative panels too. Such an enormous amount of work and so rewarding to see the window finally coming together.



Notice the five panels on the easel beyond. I love the way they look at night, showing the pattern of the leads.


Still working… into the night!

Holy Family

Here’s the Holy Family panel coming together…

IMG_2636…and a few more photos of work-in-progress

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Flipping the first panel…


Yes! I’ve just finished soldering the first side of the first panel for Trinity Episcopal. Here it is face down on the bench, flipped over ready to solder the back. I always love seeing the reverse of a panel, all shiny and neat, and to glimpse the finished window for the first time. It’s a whole new viewpoint!


…and it’s surprisingly rigid for a half-soldered window..

glazing3Marching onward! Eight more panels to glaze, putty, and install before winter