Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Learning Precision

Back when I started doing stained glass, I didn’t quite understand the concept of precision in my work. I would cut out pieces of glass and for the most part they were close to what the pattern piece was. I would lay the pieces of glass out, one by one, on the print of the window and they would pretty much fit, but not quite. After I got all the pieces cut out, I would shift them together so that they fit tightly and then I would grind one or two pieces to fit into the space that was left for them.

The windows looked good and I was proud of them and I thought I was doing a good job. Then as years went by and I got better at the skill of cutting glass, I discovered that it just didn’t need to be so hard to finish a window. I learned to be more precise. I had always taught and practiced the art of cutting close to the line I had traced around the pattern piece. I had told students for years to cut on the inside of the line, right on that edge where the pattern piece and the marker touched each other so that the glass would perfectly match the pattern piece. And I noticed that my windows fit together better.

Then I became a true believer in precision. No longer did multiple curved pieces have to be slid about and adjusted. I could cut them out and be assured that they would fit perfectly, because each and every piece that I cut fit just that way. It matched the pattern piece and the layout plan. The mystery of how to shift the glass about was no longer needed because I had a new secret weapon, that of being precise.

In life, we often find times where precision is helpful. Like when following a recipe, it’s good to be fairly precise. Not perfect, we still don’t have to achieve perfection, to me precision is close enough. It’s going towards perfection but not getting goofy about it. I guess there are times where getting perfect would be great. Like perfect grades in a class that is important to us, or maybe trying to be perfectly loyal to friends and family or perfectly forgiving to those who wrong us. And when we fall short, I figure we can just reach for precision. To be “pretty good.”

Nowadays I try to teach students about being precise and often my words fall on deaf ears. It’s not that they ignore me, they just don’t understand what I mean. So when a student saves all her pieces to be ground at one time, I may give her a friendly word of advice, to grind as you go, cut each piece and then grind it so that everything fits as you go along. But if she doesn’t listen, I don’t worry. I know that in a day or two, when she starts to grind all those pieces to fit, she’ll echo the words of another student who said, “If I had known it was going to be so hard to grind these pieces, I would have tried to cut them closer to the line.”

Experience may be the best teacher of all!

For more articles on stained glass visit http://www.gommstudios.com/stained-glass-articles/articles.htm

Friday, June 01, 2007

How To Solder A Reinforcing Edge On A Curved Panel-June 2007

This is an edge panel that went with two other windows. You can see the entire piece installed by going to
The top edge of this piece is curved and we often get asked how we put 1/4" outer bar on curved pieces. It's very difficult to put outer bar on a piece which has a radius of less than 4'.

Read the whole article with pictures by clicking the title above.