Pressed Flower Suncatcher

It’s always sad when flowers we grew or were given to us wither and must be thrown away.  Pressed flowers are an excellent way to preserve the beauty of your plants and the lovely memories that come with them.  Flowers are easy to press, just place them between pieces of parchment paper and place under a large stack of books, flat bricks or any flat, heavy object for a few weeks until they are dry and papery.  You can also purchase a flower press which will perform the same process but more quickly and uniformly.

Once you have these beautiful pressed flowers though, what do you do with them?  Here is one excellent project you can do to make attractive stained glass suncatchers or ornaments for friends.  Use flowers from your own garden or flowers you have pressed from an arrangement they have given you to give it an extra special, personal touch.  Once you get comfortable with the process you can make smaller or larger versions, we’ve even seen earrings and pendants made this way!

Materials for a stained glass suncatcher

You will need a few specialty items for this project, but these tools are now relatively inexpensive and useful for many different types of crafts.  You may be able to borrow them from friends, or if you choose to purchase them, you will be able to find other uses for them. 

You will need:

  • a sautering or soldering iron these can be found in hobby shops, stained glass stores, hardware stores or ordered online.  A smaller version will work best here, especially if you are new to soldering
  • copper foil and metal solder, available online or at stained glass stores
  • flux, available online or at stained glass stores
  • two matching sized pieces of stained glass preferably 2″ by 3″(it can be clear if you like but the ending suncatcher will not have the same gem like quality)  You can buy these from a stained glass store precut or by larger pieces and cut them yourself using the scoring method.  This method is detailed nicely here along with a nice step by step walkthrough of sautering
  • a small paintbrush
  • 5 or 6 of your prettiest, flattest pressed flowers
  • clear drying glue
  • a c-clamp or helper
  • newspaper

Preparing your glass

Once you have your stained glass sized correctly, place them on a clean, dry work surface and thoroughly clean and dry your glass pieces with windex or vinegar, oils from finger prints can prevent the foil from sticking to your piece.  Peel a small section of the backing off your copper foil, just to start it (if you peel the entire piece it may collect lint or get tangled and stuck while you are wrapping your glass).  Begin just past one corner of your glass piece.  Make sure your foil is centered on the edge of your glass square, so that a very little bit of the foil will hang over and fold down on both the back and front of the glass (as if you were gift wrapping).  Press your foil firmly down and fold the overhang down onto the glass.  Continue around the perimeter of the glass, peeling away the backing as you go.  Try to hold the glass in the center as you are doing this to prevent touching the clean edge you are foiling.   When you meet the edge you started at, cut the foil and finish pressing down the edges.  Before you set this piece aside, go over the foil one more time to press out any bubbles and make sure the foil is tightly holding the glass.  Move on to the next piece and repeat the same procedure.  When both glass pieces are foiled, lay out your flowers on one of the pieces of glass.  Colorful flowers will create an attractive pattern, but don’t forget the exotic textures and shadows leaves and ferns can make as well.  Once you have created a design you like, put a tiny dab of glue on each flower or element and affix to the glass.  Don’t worry about sticking your flowers all the way down, this is only to prevent them from sliding while you sauter, the weight of the glass will hold them in place. 

Getting ready to Solder

Next, you will want to brush all the foil with flux.  This is a vaseline feeling substance to help the solder grip the foil.  It’s best to do this with a paintbrush, as it will need to cover the whole foil surface.  After you have painted the foil with flux on both pieces, it’s time to get ready to sauter them together.  While most of this project lends itself to crafters of all ages, sautering irons are extremely hot and this section should be left to an adult helper or crafter.  Place your glass pieces together (if you have chosen textured glass, make sure the flattest sides are facing each other) with the flowers in the middle, lining up all the edges and place it on the edge of your workspace on top of the newspaper.  Affix a c-clamp to your table and gently clamp down your piece.  This is to keep it lined up and pressed together while you sauter, it doesn’t have to be terribly tight, and if you are lacking a c-clamp, have an adult helper press down on the center of the glass while you sauter.  You (and your helper) can use soldering or safety gloves to prevent burns from your soldering iron and metal solder.  These are available at stained glass stores, hardware stores or online.  Your metal solder will look like a coil of heavy wire.  Unwrap a length that is comfortable for you to hold (this project probably won’t take more than a few inches.  Hold your metal solder in one hand (usually not the one you write with) and your heated iron in the other (usually your writing hand).  Place the tip of your iron directly on the foil of your piece (try to split the tip between both pieces of glass so the solder will fill the seam between them and fix them together).  Touch the tip of your metal solder to the tip of the iron.  The metal will melt and fix to the foil.  Keep moving your iron down the foil seam to spread the metal solder and keep touching the solder to the iron to make a raised metal seam (it will look like a series of long bubbles all interconnected).  When you have finished with one side, turn your piece and finish the other three sides.  You can affix a metal hook for hanging by bending a small piece of wire into a semicircle.  Place the hook on the top edge of your piece and have a helper hold it in place with tweezers or small tongs.  Press the sautering iron to each end of the wire and add a drop of metal solder to fix it in place. 

Finishing Touches

When the glass piece is cool (it will only take about half an hour), gently clean off any extra flux with windex or vinegar.  String a ribbon through the hanger and hang in a sunny window or give to a special friend for a unique gift from your garden.

Advertisements

3 Comments

  1. valyruh said,

    December 17, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    Love your description, but have a question: my two pieces of glass never completely meet because–usually–of the height of the flower centers, so there is always a bit of gap between the 2 pieces of glass. Won’t the solder flow between them and ruin the whole thing? I have been using wide foil to foil the two pieces of glass together as one. That prevents the possibility of solder going between them but it makes the whole piece look thick and ungainly, and the soldering looks messy. I would appreciate any suggestions you might have on how to deal with this problem. And it needs to be pretty thin glass, which most of my stained glass is not. Suggestions on where to buy such glass? Many thanks. vrush1@verizon.net

    • skydomepins said,

      December 17, 2014 at 9:49 pm

      Hi Valyruh,
      I’m glad I caught this as I no longer run this blog! As long as you have rubbed a good deal of flux on the foil, the solder shouldn’t run too much out of the “lines” but I would definitely try to keep it as level as possible. It is definitely hard to do with wavy or bumpy glass. I have used bumpy glass for this project though, it does make the piece a little thick, but it gives it kind of a home-made touch. The flower centers can be a little cheated too, I’ve found that if I shave the centers carefully with a razorblade I can get them pretty thin without damaging the overall layout. I’ve also seen some crafters cut out the center altogether, arranging the petals and leaves the way they prefer which is actually very eyecatching (love the heads of young wheat with scattered seeds throughout the glass). As for glass, I actually prefer to order it through my local craft store (a stained glass artist is even better, they will have access to lots of exotic glass and may even have scraps that are no good for their projects but will be great for a small ornament like this) but if you don’t have anything near you, there are quite a few online suppliers- I’ve ordered through Delphiglass before, they’ve always had great customer service- but there are lots and lots of choices out there! Good luck, and happy crafting!

      Ps. forgot one more thing! a small c clamp can help keep the glass together while the solder cools- be careful not to tighten it too far and place a small square of cardboard on each point where the c clamp grips to prevent scratches

      • valyruh said,

        December 17, 2014 at 9:52 pm

        Thanks so much for your comments. Your art is beautiful.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: