This post is for level 2 of mosaic-making. When a mosaicist finds her vitreous glass tile color palette to be limiting her designs, using stained glass along side will increase the colors available to her. Another advantage would be that stained glass would allow cutting of bigger and varied shapes for a composition which the small size of vitreous glass tiles doesn’t permit. A bigger size, however, brings with itself the challenge of cutting and shaping stained glass, so an added set of tools is needed to manage this media.
Here’s what is needed to use stained glass for creating mosaics.
As opposed to 2×2 cm or 1″x1″ vitreous glass tiles, stained glass comes in sheet sizes of 2’x5’ or 2’x6’. It comes in transparent, semi transparent and opaque colors. As for brands, I’ve only seen Spectrum stained glass that comes from the US. It has a dealer in East of Kailash, New Delhi–Superior Float Glass–whose store I’d visited some months ago to buy small quantities of glass to experiment with. Good quality stained glass comes expensive at its price of Rs250-Rs500/sq ft so warrants practiced glass cutting and shaping skills to avoid its wastage. I’d heard of stained glass discards being stored by big glass stores which I was fortunate to find at the Superior store. While it wasn’t easy to rummage through their single gigantic wooden crate of broken, dusty discards, with the help of a worker I did extricate usable opaque glass pieces in many colors. They weighed 3 kgs and came much cheaper at Rs150/kg. In addition, I bought 8 sq ft of stained glass in different colors from their large or leftover sheets, and returned home with plenty of colors and sizes to play with. In the image on right, discards are in the purple container and are large enough to create big or small pieces for mosaic compositions. The rectangular pieces on the table came at prices between Rs250-350/sq ft.
I’ve learned of an inferior and cheaper quality of stained glass that comes from China and available with a store in Kirti Nagar, New Delhi. I still have to track down that place and product.
Glass scorers are used to create a deep enough straight or curved score on stained glass that fractures the glass along the line. The glass is then held by Running Pliers against the score and snapped along the line. Glass cutters in India have long used diamond tipped pen scorers to fracture and break all sorts of glass. Good quality pen scorers, however, come with a tiny carbide tipped wheel on their tip and have an oil reservoir in the stem to keep the wheel lubricated and moving freely. Stained glass artists use either these pen scorers or pistol grip scorers for ease of gripping them. Fortunately, oil reservoir pen scorers are easy enough to find in hardware stores in Gurgaon. This link on Amazon India shows the scorer I mean and it’ll cost less than its displayed price in a local hardware store.
These are used to hold the glass against a score and snap it neatly. It looks like this, and while it should be possible to source it locally, I got it from Amazon US.
A grozer snips off small pieces from the edge of stained glass. They may be protruding ends that need removal or intentionally snipped small pieces that are needed to fill a shape. A grozer is also used to break thin strips from stained glass that running pliers don’t help break as the narrow strip may be too close to the edge of the glass. Running pliers need enough area on the glass edge to hold it firmly. I got a grozer from Amazon US but it should be available with hardware stores here as stained glass artists use them in India.
Wheeled Mosaic Cutter
These cutters have been covered in my previous post. They continue to be immensely useful in cutting geometric or curved shapes out of strips of stained glass much like they do with vitreous glass tiles.
Also called a rubbing stone, this rough stone is available at local hardware stores to grind jagged ends of shapes cut with cutters.
Protective Eye Glasses
I find that stained glass strips break differently from vitreous glass tiles. Cutting stained glass sees shards flying in a less controller manner than one witnesses with vitreous glass tiles. Using a grozer throws around even more tiny pieces of glass rather unpredictably. The use of simple protective eye glasses is therefore necessary. I’ve found this pair by 3M to be adequate for this purpose.
Although not a tool, it took me a while to figure out the right oil to use for glass scorers. Glass workers advise the use of kerosene oil but hardware store folks suggest turpentine oil. I’ve used latter and found it working well. One can simply dip the wheeled pen scorer into a bottle of oil, dab the extra oil on a tissue and run it on glass to create a score.
There are more tools that a mosaicist may want to own or at least want access to. I’ll cover them in a Part 3 post that will cover ceramic tiles as the media of choice.
Meanwhile, do tell me what else can be added to the range of tools covered in these 2 posts.
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