The Dalle deVerre church window restoration is finally finished and re-installed. The color of the matrix is somewhat different, but still in the background and not even noticeable in the sanctuary lighting.
I mixed 4 epoxy resin pour sections in the whole window; the first pour section was light on hardener, so needed to be removed and re-poured. There is not the “cold joint” problem one might encounter with concrete, thank goodness, so, everything stuck where it was supposed to stick for the “replacement” pour – just a slight ridge in the surface of the matrix at the interface of pour sections.
I got a lot of great advice and encouragement from friends who had used epoxy resin in some form which I remembered when things went a little different than I expected. Thanks to Dave and Karl, I was prepared for whatever might happen during the pour. What I wasn’t prepared for was the lack of functionality of my scale.
I planned to tare the milk carton and pour in the epoxy resin, take the weight of the epoxy and calculate how much hardener was needed exactly. I had a 100:1 ratio, simple math. The plan was to tare the carton with the epoxy and take the scale up to the exact weight of the hardener only. Well, the scale would not tare so much weight and it flustered me at first. The first pour eventually needed to be replaced (as mentioned) because I “guesstimated” wrong on the hardener needed. After that, everything went fine. I just got a tare on the carton, added epoxy, and wrote down the weight of the total epoxy for my calculation of the hardener required. Put the carton back on the scale with epoxy inside, wrote down the total weight, added the weight of the hardener to that total and then poured in the hardener until the scale read the sum. No problems after that on calculating the mix.
I first tried pouring from the corner of the milk carton. The texture of the epoxy resin with hardener is a little like peanut butter thinned with really sticky honey, but the way it “moves” is something I had not encountered, sort of reminded me of liquid-y silly putty. The stuff got all over the dalles, so I moved into the more open sections of the panel since I thought the pour would be going off in about 20 minutes which would leave me little time to clean the epoxy off the dalles before it hardened. A little nerve wracking, but it was not a good time for freaking out. I got as much as possible poured from the carton and did a little mental reassessment of the plan.
What I ended up using for the actual “spreading” of the epoxy resin for the balance of three pours was gallon size plastic storage bags which I filled from the milk carton I used to mix. Just cut a small hole in the corner of the bag to accommodate the narrow “channels” between the dalles and instead of squeezing (like you might do while decorating a cake), I just let the epoxy resin “fall” out of the hole as I moved it around the glass. Piece of cake . . .
I waited 15 minutes after each pour and sprinkled clean sand over the surface. There was one place where I didn’t wait long enough before sprinkling the sand and it sunk into the epoxy resin a bit; doesn’t look perfect, but not too bad.
The matrix began to harden very quickly (except for the bad first pour), and I left it on the work bench until the following Monday (2 days). The following Friday, I removed the matrix that didn’t harden and poured it again. The following Monday, February 1, I called the church to make arrangements for the time to reinstall the panel. Saturday, February 6, Kirby and I prepared the panel for transport to the church and he installed the panel.
The only really nervous moment for me was when he had to adjust the panel during the dry fit with a skill saw using a masonry blade. I had to go inside the sanctuary and calm my mind with meditation while he was taking a power saw to my work. But, it all went pretty well. See photos.
I learned a lot doing this project and plan to do more Dalle de Verre. I need to acquire more skill in shaping and faceting the glass. I have no fear of mixing epoxy resin now. I need to find a more effective way to smooth the aggregate around the dalles to get a nice flat matrix surface on the bottom as well as the top. I’m sure that will all come with practice like with any skill set.
Learning anything requires the willingness to say yes when an opportunity arises. So, my dear reader, go forward without fear and learn. If you are interested in learning Dalle de Verre, there is a valuable booklet from The Stained Glass Association of America which is Chapter 10 of the Reference and Technical Manual, Second Edition. It is available from SGAA, Raytown, MO, 1-800-438-9581.