Streaky amber suncatcher

I’ve been very focused on a number decorative copper-foil panels for most of this year, so haven’t completed anything with a bottle cut for quite a few months, so thought it was time to cut another one on this rainy Sunday afternoon.   purpleamber

I’ve described the process of this pleasing design of bottle end suncatchers enough over the course of the last few posts, so I’ll just describe the glasses, and show the photo. A brown real ale bottle provided the centre, and I found the streaky antique amber complimented this well. I rifled right through the glass box, holding up various colours with these two before I settled on a purple and amber wispy glass for the 15mm border. Finished in black and polished patina, then end result is really nice, and blends beautifully. Sometimes things just work out really nicely together.

Multicolour suncatchers

I’ve not done much with bottles for a number of weeks, concentrating what time I had on a couple of copper-foil designs I wanted to do, so I decided to get back into a couple of things now that those designs are out of the way. I’ve really enjoyed making the bottle centre suncatchers, and improving the designs and finish standards a good deal, so I opened the glass box to see what I had to use this time.

The previous violet bordered suncatcher I made looked vibrant in the light, and I had plenty left, so I wanted to use that again, but with another strong but complimentary colour inside. Pairing them up together in the light, I found I liked a green bottle centre, with a strong amber between the bottle centre and the border. multicolourThis technique of holding glass up to the light together really does help in making decisions that please the eye. Sometimes choices seem good matches on the desk, but don’t quit work as well together when viewed through the light.

Firstly, I used a green beer bottle centre, which was UV bonded onto a clear circle for strength and foiling success. I then cut a 100mm square of the amber, and marked out the centre cross and circle, then proceeded to cut and grind the pieces to a close fit, so the foiling and soldering would be as neat and as uniform as possible. foiled multicolour

Cutting mathematically rather than to a template helps to keep things pretty square, so I then marked and measured 15x115mm strips of the violet border, to allow for the overlapped border, which adds strength. If everything goes to plan, things should be pretty tight and square, and I then pin the design down into my right angle box to help keep the pieces in just the right position to ensure gap-free joins when finished.

I used black backed copper foil again, and soldered using K-grade solder for a nice smooth flow. Black patina was added, and I now use some Stovax black graphite polish to give the beautiful end shine like the very top photo above, after a kind tip and sample from a local stained glass artist whose panel we encapsulated at work. The polishing has transformed the end result on this and those copper-foil designs, and made black patina the best looking option for me now.

As the end result turned out so well, I repeated the exact same design again yesterday, mini-wine botte multicolouredthis time using a green mini-wine bottle centre, pictured right and above. This centre is a touch smaller, a slightly stronger green colour, and projects more prominently. I’ve still to add the polish in the photo, but I think the colours look really well together.

 

Beer bottle suncatchers

I’ve had two green beer bottle centres made and ready to use for a couple of months, so it was time to get them used, in between other panels, before the copper foil oxidized. 

tipped bottle sun catcherYellow worked well with the green centres before, so I picked a sheet out of the glass box and set to work, using the cross template I made previously to make a perfectly aligned square.  I wanted to add another colour to it for contrast, so rather than cut into the squares, I tipped them off with 20mm triangles using a violet cathedral glass , as pictured. Because I preferred the square to hang on it’s diagonal, I had to make a longer legged hanger which soldered to both the violet and the yellow glass for strength.

green hangerThe second green bottle end was identical to the first, but this time I wanted to keep the whole suncatcher green, to be hung in the newly installed kitchen of a relative, complimenting the green painted walls. I used a green cathedral glass, and just kept the square simple and small, to hang nicely in the short fixed pane of the window. The finish was again left silver, and polished up well as I used K-grade (60:40) solder on a very neat tip. As is often the case with simple designs, it works really well.

Bottle end suncatcher

Following on from the first attempt at combining bottle cutting with copper-foil glass making,bottle bottom I’d earlier prepared a few more bottle ends, using the same technique of UV bonding a cut and finished beer bottle end onto a circular piece of 3mm clear glass. The 3mm clear was then quite straightforward to copper-foil, and would sit flat to aid soldering when combined with the other glass which is mostly 3mm also.

I had two brown beer bottles, and some green ones, but the brown ones are the better looking of the two colours, as the green ones have an off-centre circle imprint on them, which doesn’t look so great. The brown tones would dictate the overall look. After a long time deliberating what to do, I finally took an idea from two of my favourite design styles I’ve seen while browsing the net. I like abstract flowers and trees that are a pure circle on a stalk, but by far my favourite stained glass designs are the Prairie style stained glass designs of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. prarie hangerThe amber tones and wheat grain heads are glorious. Thought I’d read that these geometric designs are best suited to lead rather than copper foil, I thought a simple one wouldn’t be too difficult to do. I had a perfect piece of speckled amber glass to form the wheat grains, and cutting them neatly wasn’t difficult with the use of a small cutting square. The look was quite pleasing, so I opted for clear 3mm glass above and below the amber chevrons, to emphasise them, and not to be overwhelmingly coloured, and I think this decision turned out really well. I’m very pleased. Though the cutting on the edges of the circles could be a little bit closer, as they always run off when going to a point, but I’m pleased with the circles and the chevrons in particular. It’s given me more chance to practise my soldering technique, which does have a lot of room for improvement still. It’s also another hanger loop made from copper wire, which given how bad my first attempt was in  the evening class, I’m pleased with the progress there too on what is a fiddle of a process where you need four pair of hands. A copper patina was added to the final solder when complete, which was ideal for the prairie influenced style and colours. Overall, It took about 3.5 hours in total to do.

Chain hanger

Visualising how things will look has never really been a strong point with me. I often have to hope for some clue from other sources, or more often than not, I need to physically hold things together in a fashion to see how they sit together. It’s not a bad way to see things sometimes. I’ve often done it with bottles to see how one body looks sat on top of the neck of another. So in deciding what to try next, I usually just pick odd things up and have a play about.

Left over from the wooden bases project, there was a small off-cut of oak, and on measuring it, found it to be just big enough to sit a tea-light on. I drew a 37mm circle around the tea-light, and then roughly squared the wood off. Placing it down, it fitted quite nicely inside the base of an amber wine bottle I’d already cut the bottom off, so that looked like an possible option to make a homemade bottle hanger. The copper ones I’ve used previously are really good, but do cost a bit of money, so it would be good to try and make a cheap option from as little bought-in materials as possible. oak hanging tray

I routed out a shallow depth to the 37mm circle outline, just deep enough to hold the tea-light in place when slightly swaying. The wood was then sanded down on all faces and edges, and then given a coat of wood dye to darken it up. When dry, four small eye screws that are usually used on picture frames were then screwed into the four corners of the face. I had bought a metre length of decorative chain used in crafting, so used that to create four equal lengths to suspend the wooden tray. The length was judged from the neck top to a tray height that suited the height of the bottle. You could you also use other strong non-flammable materials like solid or twisted wire to achieve the same effect. chain bottle hangerThough chain might be more bulky, its easy to attach to rings at either end without special crimping tools so seemed like a good choice for the first attempt.

The main hanging line was made with the same chain, and allowed for a good foot or so of clearance when in the hanging position, which also allows enough slack to lift the bottle upwards to access the tea-light tray when required. I had a few strong 20mm diameter aluminium rings left over in the shed from years ago, and these were perfect to form the top hanger, but more importantly, a good size to create the wedging ring inside the bottle neck. The obvious side benefit of a chain and ring hanger like this is that the bottle always sits dead plumb, as it’s resting centrally on the ring in the neck opening, rather than  resting on just one half of a the bottle shoulder like the copper spiral ones do. A tea-light was then slid onto the tray, and lit to test the airflow around the base, which was fine. The bottle and chains warm up, but not in any unexpected or worrying way. It’s surprisingly difficult to get four equal sized chains to sit and hold the base dead level, despite ring counting, but it’s near enough and copes with a light swaying movement perfectly fine. I’ll try something smaller and more flexible next time, but it’s been not a bad first go at a total overall materals cost of under £1.50.