Gee whiz, I was just hunting down the link… This group is quick on the draw! LOL!
My old school chapel had an colored acrylic stained glass style window. Geometric design of squares. It looked ok but it was a high up. A class somewhere along the line did a giant colored acrylic stained glass style window that looked nice to with lettering and shapes.
But, every time I saw them, and that was a lot of chapel time, Thought, yep. Would have been nice to have real glass.
My opinion might change. These were done sixty and thirty years ago. The cast acrylic I’ve been working with is just amazing. So clear and colorful. I would say find a window that someone has done locally out of acrylic and see if it is something you can live with.
Being able to use a laser to cut would make the process pretty easy.
a different approach…
I’m planning to use my GF for many stained-glass-like lamp making projects using translucent polymer clay. Here is how I envision something that might be a little like your coat of arms:
On GF, from 1/8 inch material, cut out the outlines of the pattern/shape. In stained glass, this would be the lines of solder. When backlit, these are the Shadow Lines.
Get a piece of glass which will have a size and shape >= the size and shape of the outline piece just cut on the GF. (this would be your windows)
Use alcohol inks to dye some translucent (or “pearl”) polymer clay in the colors you want to use on the glass which will show between the “solder” lines that you cut out on the GF. (most craft stores sell both translucent polymer clay and alchol inks. “Premo” is a good brand, though “Sculpey” is cheaper/easier for beginners to use, and may be just fine for this type of project) [warning: alchol inks STAIN everything, so wear your hazmat suit, and get some adult supervision]
roll out thin pieces of your dyed translucent polymer clay - use a craft-rolling pin or pasta machine (that you will not ever use for food) - the thinner the better
apply the dyed clay to the glass, roughly where you think you want the colors to go (though, since you will overlay your GF’d outlines, having just random-pretty-colors in the background might look nifty) Work the clay from the center to the edges to get out any air bubbles. Smooth it out the best you can (I dip a finger into a bit of rubbing alchol and make little circles across the clay to smooth things out b4 baking.)
bake the glass covered clay according to package directions (baking it turns it into hard plastic)
Once the glass is baked, super-glue your GF’d “solder”/shadow-pattern lines of your pattern on top of it, or otherwise slide both pieces into some GF’d slots in some frame-like holder.
Polymer clay and alcohol inks are relatively cheap, and you can practice on dollar-store picture frame glass. It’s a great medium for a wide spectrum of skill sets - easy for kids to use, but amazing when done by the pro’s (http://www.jonstuartanderson.com). I’m somewhere on that spectrum - no where near the real pro’s, but happy with the lamps I make (http://www.ferociousmellow.com)
I can tell you how we did prop stained glass in a college production (sorry… it did not involve lasers).
If your design is simple and not to detailed it is pretty easy. Draw out your pattern on paper to scale. Place the plexi over it or draw on it with a sharpie marker directly. Use a tube of black caulk to draw your lead. Then use aniline dyes to paint in your colors. The caulk gives you the characteristic look and keeps everything within the lines.
When it was used in the show we had framed it in a light box and hung it in mid-air. It looked great!
One thing I saw – which of course I can’t find the video for now – is someone using a laser cutter within the limitation of etching stained glass, and then using the actual hand tools to cleanly snap the glass along the etching. It couldn’t completely cut, of course… but it definitely made the whole process of snapping the glass for fitting much easier!
Are you sure it was a CO2 laser? Etching glass with a CO2 laser creates lots of tiny fractures, not the clean score line that a glass cutter creates. It almost never breaks clean.
Pretty sure it was your everyday commercial laser, like an Epilog or FSL… it was a woman who ran a small shop. I’ll keep looking for the video and post it if I can find it again.
Epilog makes a decent little fiber laser that might do it.
Couldn’t find the video. Maybe I imagined the video, but here’s the case study. It was on an Epilog, and only a 35 watt.
Cool! It looks like she uses 20% speed, 100% power, and 5000Hz frequency as her settings on the 35 watt laser.
I’ve got tons of art glass here, I’ll have to add this to the list of things to try.
Fantastic! I can’t wait to try it!
We just used gels (well, polyester) pretty much straight. It was more of a lighting effect than a prop, but it was really fast and easy. You could probably do the same thing better today, with thin acrylic or some kind of other glazing as a backer…
please post when you do - I would love to use GF to help in glass cutting - maybe have it etch and then use the etch line to guide a hand-held glass cutting tool? I’ve been practicing glass cutting with my hand-held tool, and it takes quite a bit of skill (which I don’t yet have) to consistently cut pieces the same size and shape (even rectangles - for me, anyway)
Until I get that done, I’ll give you my secret for nearly perfect cuts on stained glass. I use Illustrator (could use Inkscape) to create my pattern or trace a given pattern with individual lines. Then apply a stroke to the lines the exact width of the gap needed between pieces (that should be known but different depending on lead vs copper tape), then do Object > Path > Outline Stroke. That creates filled areas the exact sizes of the glass pieces you need. Use a vinyl cutter to cut out of vinyl, throw away the lines and place the filled pieces on your glass in the desired location. That thin film of vinyl is enough to guide your glass cutter so you can score very close to the shape. Sometimes it doesn’t even need grinding. Leave the vinyl on to guide your grinding, and the end result is nearly perfectly cut glass with less effort.
Thats a great idea! Never thought of that! And thank you all for this discussion.
So what you’re saying is mask your glass with something strong-ish that won’t move and then use the glowforge to remove the masking but not touch the glass. Then follow the lines in the masking. That is brilliant, because even if you can dial in a laser so that the score lines break cleanly you have to do it for every type of glass you use. Whereas you only need to dial in the settings to just burn away the masking material once.
Well, actually I do it with a vinyl cutter since I can’t put vinyl in the laser. But if there is a laserable equivalent, that would work, as long as your glass fits in the laser. On the other hand, usually you want to place each piece on the glass to take advantage of whatever pattern or texture there is in the glass, and it wouldn’t be efficient to do each one one at a time like that. I just cut my whole set of vinyl “stickers” all at once and place them on the glass later.
There has to be a masking that is laser safe with the key properties vinyl provides for this application.
To me the point is that it is doable. Or in other words, it fulfills the glowforge promise of lowering the bar on a particular set of skills to achieve an impressive result. Not that it lowers it to zero, but that it makes learning what you need to learn manageable instead of dedicating a big chunk of your life to it. I have no plans for detailed stain glass work. I want some not necessarily square shapes in a larger, primarily non-glass piece.
There are adhesive poly products that are similar in application to the adhesive vinyl products. If a PE or PU adhesive material is not thick enough to guide the glass cutter, perhaps you could lay down multiple layers of paper masking material to build up the thickness before running the laser operation.