MISSION & CRAFTSMAN LIGHTING HANDMADE IN THE USA
Introduction to Mission Style Lighting
If you’ve explored our website, you will find our elegant Craftsman Lighting in various styles, from vintage to classic. We’re ready for you to customize your desired Mission Lighting fixture, from us to your home.
However, did you know we handcraft our Lighting products? We put together high-quality, exquisite wood and stain glass together for a stunning design that is unmatched by our competitors. Many people are unaware of the time, effort, patience, and years of experience in each Mission Lighting product.
For us to display the beauty of these handcrafted items, we choose specially selected glass and wood. If you know anything about wood, you’ll realize each type has unique characteristics, differing from each other. Stained glass is even more versatile, ranging from various qualities, colors, and texture.
If you aren’t sure yet if you would like to have your very own Mission Lighting product in your home, this article will persuade you, by first revealing our techniques. We have a specialized way of selecting our material and unique construction process for our Arts and Crafts, Mission, and Craftsman Lighting Collections.
We will go into detail about our Lighting Style creation process, that has four segments:
1. Material Selection
2. Staining Process
3. Stained Glass Process
4. Wood Construction
Material Selection - Wood and Stained Glass
At the beginning of our process, we start by selecting the material for wood and stained glass.
After years of trial and error, we have found oak and cherry wood to be the best for our collection of lighting products. There are two types of oak which we will discuss, named quarter sawn and plain sawn. Also, we have an additional option for wood, called cherry.
For our stained glass selection, we will reveal the type of glass that has made us different from the rest. This glass has given us an authentic look, personifying the Mission Style craftsman design.
Wood Selection – Quarter Sawn and Plain Sawn
We have put a lot of time into choosing superior wood for our products, giving us our Craftsman Style lighting design.
We’ve selected oak and its two main types, quarter sawn and plain sawn. We believe in oak so much that it represents 90% of our products. Also, oak is an excellent match for homes from the early 1900s.
Quarter Sawn Oak
Plain Sawn Oak
Most commonly seen in today’s homes, plain sawn oak is less costly than other variations of oak. You’re more likely to see plain sawn oak in home improvement stores, such as Home Depot. Also, plain sawn oak is popular among today’s home construction.
On the other hand, quarter sawn oak is more expensive, yet beautiful. Not to mention, it’s long-lasting and has an attractive grain texture.
A fundamental characteristic about quarter sawn oak is that it’s less likely to warp, twist, expand and shrink over time. Unfortunately, plain sawn oak has a higher chance of losing its consistency as time goes on. The reason for this is the cut of the wood. For instance, the stability of lumber is determined by the cut once harvested.
After the mill cuts the lumber, the end grain of the board presents the differences between these two types of wood. To get a better sense of how the lumber is cut, imagine the log before it goes through the mill.
To put it simply, the quarter sawn is cut like a pie, while plain sawn is cut by slicing the layers of the log.
Wood Selection - Cherry Wood
We do present another option, cherry wood. Our cherry wood has a clear natural oil finish that does not color the wood. We’re able to do this by applying four coats, allowing 12 hours to dry.
There is a downside to cherry wood, however. Cherry wood is known for discoloring over time. For instance, in a year, it will become darker by two or three shades.
Stained Glass Selection - Hand-Rolled Glass
Stain glass comes in a variety of textures, different thicknesses, and transparencies. At the beginning of our Mission and Craftsman style lighting endeavor, we experimented with various stained glasses. It took us two years to find the right glass, and it was worth it.
We’re happy to inform you we found a type of glass that we still use today in all of our Mission Style lighting fixtures, called Wissmach Glass.
Because each piece of Wissmach glass is specially hand-rolled, each sheet will be unique, differing from each other. Our favorite trait about Wissmach glass is that it’s the right transparency, enough for light to pass through and project a brilliant stained glass color and glow.
We believe Wissmach glass meets our superior standards for glass texture, creating the authentic “Craftsman” style look.
Staining Process – Mission Craftsman Style
In the early 1990s, we built a furniture line in the Mission Style. We were able to develop a unique staining process that brings out the best in the quarter sawn, becoming more defined in the wood grain.
The quarter sawn flakes in the wood are thick and not very absorbent, meaning an application of water stain will discolor the surrounding grain. As a result, the surrounding grain will be darker, leaving the quarter sawn lighter.
We’re happy to share with you our four-step process that achieves a magnificent stain on quarter sawn oak.
Read on below to find out more.
Step 1: Sanding the Surface Thoroughly
First, sand the wood with 80 grit sandpaper. Then, wet the board with a damp cloth and let it dry for 30 minutes. Next, sand the board with 100 Grit sandpaper. After, wet the board again with a damp cloth and let it dry for 30 minutes. The final sanding should be with 180 grit sandpaper.
The board is now ready to stain.
Step 2: Applying the Water Stain
To create the tone and color we’re looking for, we mix various water stain colors. We have a unique way of applying the water stain, by wiping it on and off before the water stain dries. See the video below.
Unfortunately, water stain tends to run and drip. You can avoid messes by thoroughly wiping the wood all around.
The water stain should dry for 12 to 24 hours before going to the next step, which is applying the oil stain.
Step 3: Applying the Oil Stain
When we apply the oil stain, we wipe it on and off quickly. Do not allow the oil stain to sit too long on the wood, because the water stain has already discolored the piece lightly. After, let the oil stain dry for 12 to 24 hours.
Step 4: Applying the Finishing Coat
We apply a final coat with a Gel Top Coat Sealer from General Finishes.
With a cloth, wipe a thin layer on and off. Then let it dry for 12 to 24 hours.
Repeat two more times for a total of 3 finished coats.
1. Sand with 80 grit sandpaper, wet with a damp cloth and let it dry.
2. Sand with 100 grit sandpaper, wet with a damp cloth and let it dry.
3. Sand with 180 grit sandpaper.
4. Wipe water stain on and off quickly; allow it to dry 12+ hours
5. Wipe oil stain on and off; allow it to dry 12+ hours.
6. Apply finish coat; wipe on and off, and let it dry for 12-24 hours.
7. Apply 2nd finish coat; wipe on and off, and let it dry for 12-24 hours.
8. Apply 3rd finish coat; wipe on and off, and let it dry for 12-24 hours.
Stained Glass Process – Mission Style
There are two processes for making stained glass: copper foiling and lead caming.
Historically, lead came was the first technique developed, going back to 1800's. It dealt with longer pieces of lead came, soldered together at the joints. If you’ve never heard about lead came, it’s a material made of lead, brass, copper, or zinc. The lead came holds together the stained glass, creating a uniform look.
Then in the late 19th century, came copper foiling. Louis Tiffany, known for Tiffany lamps, started this technique, anointing it the “Tiffany Technique.” Copper foil is excellent for small shapes, 3D projects, and artistic expression. This technique is now the most popular and widely used around the United States.
For our Mission-style Craftsman lighting, we’ve chosen the copper foiling method, as we believe it gives a more handcrafted, artistic look.
We’ve summarized our stained glass foiling process in three steps down below.
Thankfully, the process of cutting glass is easy!
Score with the glass cutter, and snap the glass (see video below).
However, the difficulty comes with cutting at high accuracy. Because all of our Mission light fixtures have 20 to 80 pieces in total, the stained glass must be cut with high precision to align the parts. For a perfect glass shade, the glass will need to be cut at a tolerance of 1/16 of an inch.
People always marvel at our stained glass process, wondering how the metal (solder) sticks to the glass. Luckily, we have an answer, and it’s the resourcefulness of copper foil. Copper foil comes in thin rolls, with one side sticky and the other side containing the copper foil.
To apply copper foil to the edge of stained glass, we use a foiling machine (see video below).
Next, we will apply the solder. What’s great about this process is that the melted metal sticks to the copper foil, and not the stained glass.
Soldering - Building the Stain Glass Shade
Before we get into the details, it’s essential to be aware that soldering takes time to master. Anyone can have too little or too much solder, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right way to do it. It takes time to learn the correct solder flow and create the perfect solder bead.
In a nutshell, soldering connects the glass pieces, creating a complete handmade stain glass shade.
Initially, the process involves melting metal at 400 degrees and applying it to the copper foil. The most important part is the molten metal avoiding the glass and applying it to the copper foil, as it makes our job easier. After soldering, we clean the metal and glass with a damp cloth. Then, we apply a black patina with a clean brush, making the metal black.
With our Mission Style lighting fixtures, we want the absolute best for our customers, and we’ve done this by applying the wooden dowel joinery method. We chose this technique because our goal is the have tight joints and long-lasting products.
The wooden dowel method has been around for 70+ years, with a proven track record of longevity and durability. In this process, we use this classic technique of wooden dowels, choosing the strongest building method for our customers.
Also, we have professional, experienced carpenters that handcraft each frame.
In our 20 years of business, we have prided ourselves with building authentic Craftsman and Mission Style light fixtures to match your home. The foundation of our sophisticated products is a result of our carefully selected hand-rolled glass and specially selected wood.
Our unique staining process creates definition and beauty in the wood grain while keeping a vintage charm. The copper foiling method for our stained glass technique is reminiscent of the early 1900s, contributing an antique feel to our lights.
In every product we handcraft, our goal is to satisfy the customer while displaying our craftsmanship. You will see the details, hard work, and experience it takes to create these elegant designs.
We hope you have gained enough insight into our unique assembly process to understand how we create our handmade in the USA light fixtures. There are various styles and colors to choose from, as we know, customizing is the best way to match your home.
You won’t regret your investment in a Mission Style lighting product or any of our handcrafted products. Explore your options today!