Fabrication Process: Supernova

Everyone always asks, “How do you do that?”

Well, the answer to that is actually pretty simple. I start with an idea, usually a photo, or a sketch, or a painting. Then I begin choosing the glass. The glass can be in a palette that matches the inspiration imagery or it can be something that you may like. Either way, I begin by laying out the glass intuitively while glancing at the inspiration image

Supernova layoutStep 1

With the inspirational image of a Super Nova star exploding in the background, the glass is being laid out on the work table. You can see the piles of blues, oranges, yellows and some red glass scattered around as I select each piece. While it may seem like the glass is ‘precut’, I actually cut sheets of glass for every projects. Yes, I cut a pile of pieces, but every one placed is held up to the light to make sure it fits where it needs to go. And if the piece is being made a particular size, many of the pieces will need to be trimmed to fit the overall dimensions required.

Supernova leadStep 2

The lead came (the lead is shaped like little I-beams) is individually cut to fit each piece of glass. Horseshoe nails – because they are flat and will not dent the lead when nailed in place – hold the pieces loosely together. I use zinc came for the outside edge; lead is not strong enough to support a panel without an additional frame. If the panel is to be installed in a wood or metal frame, lead edging is OK, but I still use a zinc edge for added stability. Then, once the lead and zinc edge has been completed, the joints are soldered.

Supernova CementStep 3

The last major step in the process is called cementing. Don’t worry, it is not really cement, it is more like a flexible grout. The window cement is scrubbed onto the surface of the window panel with a natural bristle brush, working the cement under the lead came, creating a seal around the glass pieces. The whiting (calcium carbonate) is brushed over the panel and allowed to dry for a bit, then everything is scrubbed off and a sharpened dowel is used to clean the edges along the lead. The cement serves a couple of functions. First of all, the process itself cleans the window, then as the cement drys, it creates a water resistant surface and stiffens the panel.

Supernova detail

But the best part of the whole thing? Holding up the window to the light for the first time!

This window is called SuperNova The panel’s finished size is 25″ x 25″, mounted in a Mission style custom Oak frame.

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