This month’s project was a 6″ by 8″ inch panel based on a small detail of a window from the William R. Heath house. The Heath house was designd and built in 1905 by Frank Lloyd Wright. The orignal design is outstanding example of his praire school of architecture.
Stained Glass Panel Layout and Design
Dennis J. Casey’s, Light Screens Illustrated, served as a excellent reference for this project. Casey is of course well known for his detailed documentation of Wright’s most famous windows.
The original design called for brass plated zinc came. For this smaller variation, I used several varing widths of lead came including 5/32, 3/16, and 1/4 inch. I was looking to try my hand at Wright’s approach to use different widths of came to emphasize different areas of the panel. You’ll notice the heavy 1/4 inch came around the central amber diamond, with a lighter came used in the fish bone diagnol pattern above.
I’m hesitant to cut all of my glass pieces up front. I chalk some of that up to my lack of confidence in my own glass cutting skill. In the past I’ve taken the approach of cutting each piece and then leading as I go. In terms of timing this is definately not the most efficient approach.
This tim I decided to buck that trend and face my fears. I cut all the glass I needed prior to leading a single piece. As I went I was more cautious and exacting than I usually am. I spent more time grinding and perfecting each piece. In the end I think this was a smart move. Since I had spent so much time getting the pieces to fit the pattern the assembly was done before I knew it.
I’m glad I faced my own fear here, It will pay dividends in terms of speed in the future.
One of my goals for this project was also to experiment with different lead came sizes. I’ve been working with 3/16th lead came and wanted to try came that was both lighter as well as thicker. This project provided a chance to test my hand with both 5/32 and 1/4.
After this project, I decided I really like 5/32 inch lead came. It’s nice and pliable and I can see it working well for rounded shapes. It is of course less forgiving of rough cuts than 3/16 inch, but I like how it looks. I can see it working well for next year’s round of christmas ornaments. Note to self, by a big spool of 5/32 next time there is a sale.
The 1/4 inch came worked well for accenting. I wouldn’t use it for an entire piece necessarily, but to draw the eye to one area it’s a good choice.
During the leading I did run into one issue with my amber glass. I didn’t consider that the amber glass I had was thicker than most of the clear and red translucent glass. That just meant more time spent working with a glass fid to open up the came to compensate for the fat glass.
Soldering and Attaching Hangers
Soldering was a breeze on this piece. I was through the entire piece in no time flat. After getting both sides fluxed and soldered I had a chance to use my homemade panel vice. Previously I was using a box full of packing peanuts to hold my panels while I would solder the corners or attaching hangers. I would just shove the piece in the box, wedging it in the peanuts until it was stable enough to solder.
The panel vice makes a world of difference. It’s of course hands free, and considerably more stable. The best part was that I made the vice out of some scrape wood I had laying around and a few screws. If you don’t already have a panel vice, make one now.
Final Notes on the William R. Heath House
If you’re a Wright fan you’ll probably want a to know a more abour the William R. Heath House. The Heath house was built in 1905 in Buffalow New York around the same time which was under construction from 1904 to 1906.
Heath himself was a lawyer and served as a vice-president of the Larkin Company. Interestingly enough Hubbards sister inlaw was married to Larkin Executive Elbert Hubbard. Elbert Hubbard was a founder of the famous Roycroft Movement in East Aurora New York.
The house itself itself had seven bedrooms witih 2 baths upstairs and a lavatory on the main floor.
And As always, remember these pieces are for sale over on my Etsy shop. If you’re interested in this panel you can check it out here.