of it. You can take almost any image, paint a transfer medium onto
it and then transfer that image to anything, even non-porous
surfaces like metal and glass! Omni-Gel is one of my favorite
transfer mediums. There are several uses for it but I adore it most
for its ability to create durable image transfers. Inspired by
classes Iíve taken from Beckah Krahula (Art and Soul) and Sandi
Regina (Jackson, CA), Iíve been playing lately with soldering glass
to metal and with Omni-Gel transfers.
The image that you use for this
project can be almost anything, but one printed on a laser printer
or a color copier, or torn from a magazine are the most reliable.
Iíve had good luck with ink jet images but have been warned away
from them by others. Give it a try. What do you have to lose? Youíll
know before you transfer it to the glass if the ink will run.
Remember that if your image has text or is direction specific,
youíll need to reverse it before proceeding.
Trim your image so that it slightly
larger that your finished design, then lay it face-up on your
surface. Use a soft paintbrush to cover the entire image with
Omni-Gel. Neatness counts. You want the Omni-Gel to be as smooth and
thin as possible since it fairly aggressively shows any brush marks.
I like to use a flexible plastic spatula for spreading the glue. Let it dry thoroughly and then apply another layer. Repeat one last
time and again dry thoroughly. Itís important not to hurry the
process along or youíll get a milky mess when you try to remove the
paper backing later.
Preheat your tacking iron or heat
transfer tool to about 250 degrees or so. Lay the image, Omni-Gel
side down onto the clean glass. (See image 1)
Heat the entire surface of the image (all youíll see is the paper
backing at this point) and use the iron to push any air pockets from
the center toward the edges. Be sure to heat the entire image. This
process melts the Omni-Gel just enough to adhere it permanently to
the glass. Donít miss any spots. This usually takes about 2 minutes
or so for this 3Ē X 4Ē project.
Let the glass cool for a couple
minutes and then immerse it in the dish of warm water (the
temperature of the water isnít critical). Soak it for 5 minutes or
so and then use your fingers to rub the backing paper off the image.
(See image 2) The type of paper the image
was printed on will make a difference in this process. Usually the
paper will roll up and then fall off. The important thing is to keep
the image wet while you work and to remove all of the paper. Any
paper left on the image will show through and leave a white, fuzzy
haze on the finished book cover. Be patient and donít tear the
image. Once all the paper is removed, dry the glass and then
carefully (without pulling) trim the image to the exact size of the
glass. (See image 3) Either an X-Acto knife
or a scalpel with a new blade are great for this job.
(See image 4)
Lay the glass, image side down, onto
metal with the glass and metal aligned at the fore edge of the book
cover (a 1/4" strip of metal without glass will be at left/spine
side). I like to use a piece of artistís or painterís tape
(low-tack) to hold the glass and metal together while I begin
putting the copper foil tape on. Just remember to remove it once the
copper foil tape has been adhered around the edges enough to
securely hold the metal and glass together. (See
Use 3/16Ē or 1/4Ē copper foil tape
around the edges of the glass and metal. Be sure that the metal and
glass are touching firmly or youíll make the process harder on
yourself. I like to start with the end of the tape on the bottom of
the book so that if the seam shows it will be less noticeable. The
goal is to have an equal amount of copper foil tape showing on
either side of the glass/metal sandwich.
Once the tape has been run all the
way around the book cover (overlap it a little), cut it off and
burnish it down. You can use a Teflon or bone folder (for
bookbinding) or a wooden fid for this. You could even use the back
of a spoon if you donít have one of the other tools. Personally, I
like the Teflon folder because it doesnít drag on the tape and
therefore doesnít remove the copper. Be particularly careful around
the corners. You want these to look as neat and tidy as possible as
the solder will not stick to the glass, so the tape will determine
how the solder looks.
Now use a wider piece of copper foil
tape (3/8Ē is a good choice) to cover the spine edge of the metal.
(See image 6) All the metal on the front of the
cover should be wrapped in tape and the transition from glass to
metal at the spine edge of the book should also be covered. I try to
make the spine edge of the glass have the same amount of copper foil
tape as the other 3 edges of the glass for a consistent look.
(See image 7) I also try to make all 4 edges of
the back-side of the cover match, with the same amount of copper
foil tape showing. Burnish all the tape down very well using the
folder or fid. (See image 8)
Preheat your soldering iron. Place
the book cover in a small vise to hold it steady while you work.
Donít tighten it too far or youíll break the glass.
(See image 9)
Use the flux brush or Q-Tip to brush
a little flux all over the copper foil tape on the side youíre
getting ready to solder (the top as it sits in the vise). Do not use
too much flux! This is a common mistake and the flux will get under
your copper foil tape and prevent it from sticking. A thin but
thorough layer is what you need. Now touch the hot soldering iron to
the end of the roll of solder and pick up some of the solder onto
the tip. Transfer the solder to the fluxed book cover. Repeat until
you have solder all along the top edge as well as the front and back
edges of the copper foil tape. Now slowly run the iron along the
length of the edge. (See image 10) If your
temperature is set correctly, the iron will make the solder melt and
flow evenly without any ripples or blobs. Turn the book cover in the
vise so that another side is exposed and repeat until the head, tail
and fore edge of the book are all soldered.
Now you will repeat this process on
the spine edge of the book but its odd shape makes it a job best
done with the cover lying down on the work surface, rather than
standing in a vise. The object is to get a nice thin, consistent
soldered bead all along the spine edge. If the bead is too thick
youíll have to use longer eyelets and will have a higher probability
of breaking the glass while setting them. Yes, that was the voice of
Once the front of the book is
soldered, turn it over and insure that the back edges are soldered
too. You may have done some of it as you were soldering the front,
but you are doing a last minute check.
For a consistent look, run copper
foil tape around the back cover (no glass) and solder it too.
Now find out how to bind your metal
book using the Coptic stitch.
If you donít have a transfer iron, you
can simply make a Ďdecalí out of the image by painting it with
Omni-Gel as normal. When the Omni-Gel is dry, place the image in
warm water for a few minutes and then rub the paper off the back. At
this point youíll have a transparent Ďdecalí with an image on it.
Use Omni-Gel to glue this to the glass and let dry before
proceeding. One of the great things about Omni-Gel transfers is that
they are far more durable than those made from acrylic gel medium so
they stand up to the abuse of rubbing the paper off.
teaches metalsmithing and bookbinding classes in our Studio in Volcano,
Image 1: Tacking iron
Image 2: Rubbing paper off back
Image 3: Trimming image to size
Image 4: Never run the paper down your sink. It will clog it
very quickly. Strain the used water through a paper towel set into a
Image 5: Artist's tape holds everything in place while you tape the
edges of the glass and metal together.
Image 6: Taping the spine edge of the book
Image 7: Miter the corners of the tape a little to make it relax
into the corners.
Image 8: Burnish tape down well
Image 9: Place work in a miniature vise while you solder.
Image 10: Run bead of solder along every edge.