quality art glass

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   it's no surprise that stained glass is expensive. material costs keep going up and it is a very labor intensive craft. if you are considering a stained/art glass project in your home or business, you need assurance you are getting your money's worth.
   i am continually astounded at the poor quality art glass i find in many high end homes. bad glass cutting, awkward lead and foil assembly, and absolutely horrible soldering are often passed on to clients that do not have the knowledge to spot such crapmanship.
   i understand why people pay good money for work that looks as if it were made by beginners. they just don't know how it's supposed to look and just assume this is the way it is. there is so much bad, cheap, and/or imported art glass out there, it does seem like it's "normal".
   i pride myself on perfection. i want my work to be flawless and will put my quality up against anyone else's, regardless of price. where other's work may look good from the street or 15 feet away, i want mine to look good from 15 inches away.
   a less quality piece will depreciate, hold no future value as a heirloom, or is not worth near what was charged for it in the first place. i always have sample panels ready to show you first hand, the quality you can expect from me.
   whether you buy from me or someone else, you want to get your money's worth. read this page and see what to look for. do not get stuck with run-of-the-mill junk. a quality product is worth it in the long run and looks better from day one. it's your money. it's your home.
 
 
   here are examples taken from a double door entry set in a high-end home. i repaired the art glass panels in 2010. they were originally built by a well known, but lesser quality minded 'doors and locks' company in the oldsmar, florida area. while many stained glass panels may have some of the following faults, this particular set had them all and provides a glimpse at what to look for.
 
   a 5/16" gap in the border channel is unacceptable. each of the two panels had several of these sizeable border gaps that weaken the overall integrity of the panel. border channel seams need to be fully connected to assure maximum strength and durability. this is the first and only time i have seen this type of flaw and really don't understand why it was done like this.

   poor lead assembly reveals several open gaps in between the lead and glass in both panels.
 
   an assortment of bad soldering and poor lead work. this is a typical sample of the overall lack of soldering quality in the whole installation.
 

it is my opinion that the bevels within the panel are worth more than the panel itself.
 
   this is not a crooked picture. the panel was actually built that way. the 1"x2" bevel in the center is supposed to be horizontal. both panels are out of square. additionally, they were both poorly cleaned prior to the original installation.
 
   faulty installation: a single shim was placed in the center at the bottom of each panel in the door window opening. the weight of the panel eventually collapsed the border channel.
 
   undersized glass: the tempered safety glass is a full 3/8" too short and there is an open exposed gap to the outside in both doors, as indicated by the arrow. the art glass panels were 3/4" too short for the opening and allowed for a 3/8" gap between the panel and the finish molding at the top of the door. i could touch the tempered glass over the top edge of the art glass through this gap.
 


here are a couple shots of horrid soldering from different panels.
 
you do not want to throw your money at crap like this.

here are detail images depicting what i feel lead work and solder joints should look like.
 
consistent and uniform.
 
smooth and even.
 
smooth blending of lead through the whole solder joint.
 
 
   the soldering in a copper foil panel should be consistent, even, and smooth, with little or no ridges, pits, bubbles, holes, or other deformities. the width of the solder bead should be fairly consistent throughout the whole panel.

the next time you see art glass somewhere, take a closer look.
see the difference. touch the difference. know the difference. buy the difference.
 

a note about quality in stained glass repairs:
   while i strive to create fine quality works from scratch, repairing other glass crafter's stained glass panels can pose a dilemma. in an effort to achieve "invisible repairs that are unnoticed upon completion", i must repair to the average quality of the item i am repairing. if it is a lesser quality piece, i must repair with lesser quality, in order to make the repair less visible. this is always awkward, but has always played out with customer satisfaction. please keep this in mind if you see one of these perhaps "lesser quality" repairs.
 
"Hi Mike, I am a fellow glass artist and was browsing the internet and came across your work. I have to say that your solder work is really, really nice, the best I’ve seen. I pride myself with having good solder seam but yours is fantastic. Do you have a secret or give any information that could help me to achieve such high quality work. Sometimes it is incredibly hard to get the solder to behave which is disappointing since I like to achieve perfection too. I too will critic other glass artists work and am fairly disappointed with the quality that is out there. Even when you browse books at the library, the glass books with images on soldering have some of the most awful work I've ever seen and these folks are educating people on how it is done!" - Mari Dreves, safari stained glass studio 
 
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