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. Anne

    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.

    1. Nine Dark Moons

      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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