Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

This month's completely random adventure

Okay so this post is a few weeks late, but hey - it's December, time and calories don't count ;)

So a while back I saw a stunning stained glass dragon.  I don't even usually really like stained glass, but it was just so awesome.  And even though I *knew* there was no way I could afford it, I clicked through to find the price.  Only to find...  the pattern?   Wait, what?

IME, if people are selling patterns, that means it's a craft that other people can do.   Idk where my little brain thought stained glass came from but I definitely didn't think it was an "in your living room" activity. So I googled...

And...  while it *can* be an in your living room activity, it seems some actual knowledge and skill might be required ;).  And tools.   Cost falls somewhere between embroidery and sailing as a hobby ;).   More than string, less than a boat.

Okay, so maybe there's a middle ground?   Went looking for lessons.  Local lessons.  Surprisingly, I found them?  And multiple options?  Like more options to learn stained glass making than piano?   The ? stands cause I'm still not convinced I'm not living in an alternate reality here, but such is life.  

So I picked the one I liked based mostly off completely arbitrary things on their websites AND availability of upcoming beginner lessons and signed myself up.  Two Friday mornings in a row.  Usually this would be a problem but it's December which means A: I have a fair bit of vacation time to use up, and B: so does everybody else I work with so my workload is comparatively light.

Away I went...  Home based studio, but nicely laid out, clean and tidy.   Instructor told me I'd have the choice of two pieces (beginner friendly - I knew before ever reaching out that the dragon of my dreams would be in no way accessible for a beginner).   By the end of the second day, I'd have it completed.  Sweet.

So it starts with pick the glass.   She had a ton of different options and walked me through different types and things to consider.  This was definitely the most stressful part of the whole adventure for me.  I do NOT have a good eye for colour and am very aware of that fact.  I've been taught, over time, some basic colour combos that work well together (working at OD provided me with more useful lifeskills than I realised at the time -- although they'd be completely appalled and horrified to see that knowledge applied to PPT presentations on a daily basis ;-P), however I acknowledge I have no eye for what might look good.  Even in stabbing things, 90% of the time when I go off-script and pick colours I like, I don't love the end result :(.  And glass is significantly more expensive than thread.

But one was SO pretty.  lol so then I just needed to find another one to compliment it and away we went...

I started by learning how to cut and break glass.  This is actually so much fun ;).  Got to practice on "throwaway" material first so as to not waste my pretty glass, but it turns out I'm not half bad at breaking stuff ;-P.  

So then we traced the pattern onto cardboard and cut it out (remembering to number all the pieces -- so one numbered picture and one set of numbered pieces).   Then trace pattern onto the glass and start cutting.  This was mostly okay.  Some learning curve in that if the pressure wasn't right (too soft or too hard) it didn't break well, and at least one piece the instructor rescued for me.   But all but that one were deemed acceptable ;)

Next up was grinding all the edges to take the rough bits off and make sure everything was the right shape.  We placed it all on a cork-board to check that the pieces worked together and that was the end of Day 1.

End of Day 1

So came back next week, we had to pick what colour soldering we'd use (I went with silver) because it would impact which foil we used.  Black is traditional, but I went with silver.

Next up was to clean each piece and then line every side with copper foil.  Think of when you have to put a screen protector on your phone and envision doing that on every single edge.   Once I got the hang of it, it was actually fairly satisfying to get it perfectly straight and bubble-free on the first go ;).  The perfectionist in me was pleased.  This would not last long ;)

So then we re-aligned everything and put all the pieces together.  We filled in some extra copper in a couple spaces and then I got to play with a heat gun.   Apparently I have a knack for this?   Lol I did it the way she showed me for a bit but then I found a better (for me) way that was much easier and much faster.  When instructor looked over my shoulder she told me it was excellent.  Apparently that was a more advanced technique *shrug*.  Idk, but to me it was easier to make it look good.

About that -- you could spend your whole life fixing "just one more part" with a soldering iron.   The perfectionist side of me did NOT enjoy this part.   I would still be there today if I hadn't had a meeting that afternoon I'd had to get back for ;)

Anyways - we did this around all the joints on both sides.   It was definitely my favourite part of the adventure, even if it could've been an endless adventure.   We then finished it off with a frame and a hanging chain (both of which are apparently optional, but I liked the finished look) and then just a quick wash and done!

I made a thing!

So overall I am pleased with it, it was an interesting experience and I'm glad I did it, but overall, I don't see it as something I need to do again ;).  Certainly not something I need to do often enough to become good enough to create my magic dragon.

And the search for the next hobby continues...


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