Stained Glass Catboat, Part 1: Learning Curve

Back in the 1990’s, dad had a catboat.  I don’t have any pictures of the boat, but here’s Dad and I going for a sail circa 1996:

me with dad on his boat back in college, early 1990's

When I started working with stained glass Dad asked if I’d someday think about making him a stained glass sailboat.  I decided to surprise him for Christmas this year and make him a stained glass catboat.  I started by googling “catboat” to get some design ideas and a template.  Catboats have very distinctive sails:

        

I also googled “stained glass sailboat” and saw some great ideas, such as splitting the sail into 3 pieces with a band of color in the middle.  I decided to use a combination of blue/green glass and mottled white glass.  Here is my first attempt [where the boat base looked more like a canoe]:

        

I needed something to use for a mast, which would also connect the boat base to the sail.  I went to Home Depot and found 6 gauge copper wire:

The hard part was cutting it.  It took 16 solid squeezes with my heavy-duty wire cutters to cut the wire in half!  So painful on the hands, especially since 4 cuts were necessary [that’s 64 squeezes with the wire cutters – ouch]:

        

The cut edges were quite jagged & sharp so I found a metal file in my basement tool box and filed them until they were smooth and rounded:

        

Then I held the piece of 6 gauge wire with pliers and soldered the hell out of it to turn it from copper color to silver color.  It took a few tries and a lot of flux to get the whole mast silver.  Then I soldered it to the sail and then to the boat base.  When I picked up the boat the mast and sail were so heavy it actually tore the copper foil off the base of the boat!  D’oh!  I had to redo the foiling on the edges of the base, re solder them, then reattach the mast.  Then I soldered a smaller piece of copper wire to the opposite side of the sail/boat bottom for more support.  Here’s the almost-finished [FIRST ATTEMPT] boat, front [left] & back [right].  The blue/green glass is cool – it’s textured and more blue on one side, and flat and more colorful on the other side:

        

After struggling so hard with the copper wire and wire cutters, I did some research on Amazon and found these highly recommended bolt cutters which are supposedly PERFECT for 6 gauge wire, including copper.  They arrived 2 days later and in 20 seconds I was able to cut my copper wire into 4 pieces!  OMFG!!!  These are totally my new favorite tool:

        

One gentle squeeze versus 16 hard squeezes!  YES!!!

Next up:  when I tried to smooth out my solder lines on the sail and boat bottom and the entire thing fell apart.  And when I realized hollow copper tubing made for a much better mast then solid copper wire.  HA!  Live and learn.

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6 Comments

  1. Beautiful photo.
    So young so sweet.
    So jung so süß.

  2. Go Girl!! I love it❤️

    • I forgot to take a picture of you holding the finished product! Maybe mom can take one and send it to me 🙂

  3. We’ve seen the end product, and it’s really, really beautiful.
    Such a labor of love to get it to that point.
    Thanks again – Dad loves it – and it’s really an eye opener to see the
    struggles that went into figuring out how to make it.

    • The struggle is half the fun. Auntie Alice told Jim that some people enjoy the destination while others enjoy the journey. I’m a journey person, Jim is a destination person. “Why buy it when I can make it” = me, “why make it when I can buy it” = Jim. We compliment each other very well 🙂

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