Christmas Ornament

I’ve been dying to do stained glass work with the Glowforge. I have all sorts of different ideas for techniques combining wood and glass, but the very second thing had to be to prove that I could solder the wood with the glass without the wood burning up. (The very first thing was experimenting with cutting and engraving glass. Before you ask – none of the glass in this post was cut with the glowforge, but I do have another technique to try so I haven’t written it off just yet.)

I put together a simple little star shape in plywood, mostly to play with 3D applications, but also because I want to eventually replace a paper star lantern that I ripped. I’d like to make one in nice wood with intricate holes and engraves in some sort of fancy patterns, but for this one I just wanted to see if I can just wrap and solder wood successfully. Since I had made a 3D model of the star it was relatively easy to figure out the angles needed between the individual pieces of wood and then between each point of the star and I made up some quick jigs to hold everything in place as I worked. My favorite part of this whole project was sitting there with the pieces and wondering how I would get the angles right and then realizing I have a laser. :slight_smile: The actual soldering was pretty easy after @ned helped remind me how to do it (it’s been like 15 years since I last picked up a soldering iron) and @shell helped provide an extra set of hands. I didn’t detect any wood burn type things going on at the edge of the copper tape. I think the tape disperses the heat enough along the edge that it’s okay. I’ve always thought the copper foil looked so pretty (no idea if it will eventually tarnish or if the coating will keep it shiny clean forever?), so I only soldered the insides of the joints.

All in all I thought it was a great success, though I learned an important lesson about acute angles and materials with thickness that doesn’t match how the planes on a 3D model work.

The next evolution of the project was to add glass. Keeping in mind that I wanted to avoid acute angles this time until I figure out how to handle that in 3D software, I started looking at polyhedra. There are some very pretty polyhedra, but our favorite icosahedron (d20) was simple to cut (everything is a triangle and the same size), pretty low poly count, and looks like a Christmas ornament already! I designed one wooden triangle with a spot to tie a ribbon and another hole to put a light from your tree lights into so the ornament can glow. I made myself a jig, cut some glass and some wood triangles to mix in and got assembling. In the end, I had to glue the last two pieces in because I was trying to keep the soldering hidden inside. The whole thing ended up being much sturdier than I was expecting, and it’s relatively weighty from the glass and metal in it. I tried antiquing it using black shoe polish, which is something I had seen done before, but it really didn’t work well. I was hoping that it would stick to the little bits of silver showing through the copper joints, but the metal was too slippery and just ended up leaving bits of grease in the cracks where I couldn’t reach to polish away. Any tips on this would be appreciated!

Cut glass triangles and testing fit on the jig:

Some wrapped in copper triangles and my inspiration piece :wink:

Partially finished, it was starting to get a bit hard to hold here, I had to ask for supplementary arms a couple of times:

My (genius?) way of holding the last two triangles in while supergluing and drying:

Before shoe polish:

During shoe polish :scream:

After shoe polish and lots of buffing:

Anyways, the final product came out great, I put it in the tree they have in the lobby of the building and snapped a couple pictures.

In the future I have plans to make this bigger as a desk lamp and engrave patterns (numbers, perhaps?) through the glass and wood, but I ran out of time on this one.


Beautiful! I was just thinking about the GF and stained glass the other day :grinning:


So very cool!! I’ve never seen copper tape wrapped around edges of wood before (or glass)…but then again I’ve never done stain glass making! I always stared at the stain glass windows in the church and admired them!



The ones in churches are probably made with a whole different technique where they actually use strips of H shaped metal. There’s a whole world of crazyness out there in stained glass, and I haven’t done anything more complicated than glass fusing, which is really pretty easy in comparison. My hope was to kinda simplify things down and bring wood into the equation with the Glowforge.


What a cool adventure in design and materials!
Turned out great, thanks for sharing the journey! :sunglasses:

‘Liver of sulphur’ is one thing used in jewelry to put a patina on any copper or copper alloy. Just sulphur in a water solution, that darkens the longer it is left on the metal.
The color will graduate from smoky to black, and is very durable. You could probably patina the foil before construction if it was conducive to the workflow.

Copper will gain a patina over time, but is slow, depending on exposure.


Oh neat, I’ll check that out! Thanks for the tip :smiley:


Cool. This is actually one of the (many) reasons why I bought the GF. The wife’s stained glass art is most often a mixtures of materials. This one below is a simple use of stained glass and copper leaves made from roof flashing. She has wanted to integrate other organic materials using the GF. I wish I had quick pics of some of her better and more complex stained glass work but those are on her laptop.


Gorgeous! I love how the copper leaves catch the light from inside even though they are opaque… must be really pretty in person :smiley:


Very cool. New thing learned: copper foil tape. How do I not know these things exist? Selective attention is a deficit worse ADD. Thanks for the write up.


Beautiful! Nice embossing on the leaves.


Painstaking, one vein at a time with a screen roller and shears.

But didn’t want to hijack the thread. The ornament is gorgeous.


Way cool! And the copper tape is great. (I use it a lot in its conductive capacity)


How come no one has mentioned the awesome jig!?

The use of the Glowforge-made jig to get the exact angle for the joints in the icosahedrons is awesome. Love it.


Yeah, I remember that from when my Mom did stained glass. Some really cool stuff you can do with stained glass. I recall she’d found a nice, inexpensive glass supplier with all sorts of differently-textured glass.



Wow, just gorgeous, I love it! And the custom jig is genius! The only way to do an unusual angle like that.

You can get either black or copper patina for stained glass joints but you need to tin the copper first (at least I’m pretty sure it needs to be tinned). That would help with getting a consistent appearance, and you could go ahead and solder all the outside edges if you were going to use the patina.

Can’t wait to see more of your stained glass adventures (love the combo with wood).


That is beautiful !! That idea would be great for personalized ornaments (baby’s first Xmas, 1st Xmas together, etc) engraved on the wood piece. I wonder if something like this would help hold pieces together:

For less than $5 at HF, may be worth a try ?


Can’t see the photo, possibly my problem, but don’t even get a hint of the file extension. Is it a jpg ?

showed up okay for me since it was posted. and yes, it’s a jpg

Curious. Now it does show!!
No idea…the Christmas ghost-in-the-machine ?

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Fantastic! I love this!! It is so beautiful! Thanks for sharing and taking time to take pictures and write descriptions of your process!!

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