Custom Stained Glass Design - Gold Star Banner Hanging


Custom Stained Glass Design - Gold Star Banner Panel Dating back to the WWI timeframe a Blue Star banner or pendent was used as a sign of a family member in active military service while a Gold Star banner was reserved for a member who died in active service. The Gold Star was to be sewn over the Blue Star with a little of the blue still showing. The Department of Defense (DOD) eventually set the design and proportions of the pendent. I've tried to follow the DOD standards as best I can within the limitations of creating a stained glass panel from specifications originally intended for a banner hand sewn from fabric. The advantage of a stained glass panel is that the colors in the glass should last unchanged for many generations.

In my opinion a stained glass panel in the approximate dimensions of 8.25" wide and 15.75" high render the correct proportions, according to the DOD standards, and yield a window hanging that will fit almost any space. This is the size of the photo shown on the right.

Custom Stained Glass Design - Gold Star Detail A photo of the just the star area in the panel, with the lead came painted blue, is shown on the left.

My panels are constructed with a zinc outer perimeter, for strength, and traditional lead came for the interior lines. I clean, wax and polish all my handmade panels. Hanging hooks are attached to the zinc frame. The glass source, colors and texture used are as follows:

The numbers following the glass descriptions above are the Spectrum Corporation product numbers ®.

Having made such a panel in 2008, I became aware of how meaningful it is to the family. I think this is especially true since a stained glass panel can become a family item passed on for many generations representing the sacrifice made by the family for our country.

I have created a document that describes how I build a gold star stained glass panel. The file is fairly larger, 6 Megs. Use the following link to the document -- Gold Star Panel Building Information. My hope is that other stained glass artists or hobbyists will find this document useful if they have an opportunity to help families. I would also welcome feedback on the document.


Gold Star Cutting Some time ago the Carolina Fabrication Lab (Fab Lab) came to Durham, NC. I had a chance to visit their mobile high tech lab. Their laser cutting system was not able to cut thru the 1/8" art glass I use for the stars but it could etch an image on the surface. Their laser could cut the glass in one pass but the thermal buildup is so great the glass shatters. The tech guy said it might take 50 to 100 passes to go thru the glass without breaking it.

I recently used up my old supply of stars, I usually cut a number at a time as the setup takes a while, and finally had a chance to try the Fab Lab etched glass blanks.

The image on the right shows a glass blank on my diamond band saw cutting tray surface. You can see the narrow etched star outline on the yellow opal glass. The etched blanks were much easier to cut as the etch line gives a fine line to visually follow and helped the diamond band saw blade stay on track. It also yielded better quality stars having less overcut in the inner intersects and a more consistent shape. I estimate the etched blanks will save about 10% on my total build time for a panel. Thanks Fab Lab!

The Fabrication Laboratory is an international project supported by MIT to showcase how advances in instruments and tools can advance many industrial processes.

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