Creating Stained Glass Window Art For Decorating

Learn how to create a beautiful stained glass decoration. Easy do it yourself glass projects for the beginner.

To make a glass window decoration you will need to assemble a few tools and shop for items you may not have on hand. If this is your first project select a pattern with straight lines and gradual curves. When selecting glass look at the backside, some glass is rough, textured or may have imperfections. Select glass that is smooth on both sides, this will make it easier to score and break. Even the smooth glass has a right and wrong side. Run your finger across the glass and you will be able to tell the back is not as smooth. You will need to use a grinder to smooth the sharp edges of the glass. A glass grinder is a bit more expensive item, but one you will need if you decide to continue to do glass projects. Ask the dealer if you would be permitted to come back and use theirs. If you purchase a standard cutter remember to dip the wheel in oil to score the glass or purchase a pencil style with acrylic barrel. The barrel is filled with oil and lubricates the wheel as you score.

List to assemble:

Solder Iron

Horseshoe Nails

Small Hammer

Glass Cutter

Light Oil

Breaker/Grozier Pliers - Use them both to break out scored glass and nibble away smaller pieces

Running Pliers

Flux

Brush

50/50 Solder

Copper Foil

Pattern

Foil Pattern Shears

Carbon Paper

Black Patina - optional

Glass

Glass Marking Pen

Wire

Wire Cutters

16x18 piece of plywood

Glass Cleaner

Polish

Safety Glasses

Make three copies of your pattern, a working copy, a spare, and master. Using carbon between the copies you need mark only once. Unless you are working with a solid color, glass will have a vertical pattern much like grain on wood. Some projects may require you to cut vertical or horizontal pieces. You can show direction with a vertical or horizontal pointed arrow. Establish a number and letter combination for your pattern. An example could be 1L with a horizontal arrow. This would indicate the first piece on the left placed horizontally on the glass. Continue for the rest of the pieces. This is your master copy and all the rest of the process revolves around your master pattern.

Cut one copy of the pattern and arrange on the glass in the manor you want it cut. Take a sharpie and trace around each piece.

A workbench would be ideal for stained glass work but any flat surface would do. Use newspaper then your plywood on top. Be aware there may be chips and slivers of glass when you score or break. Please use your safety glasses. They do sell a honeycombed glass catch system. If this is your first time to cut glass you may want to take a few practice cuts on a small piece of glass. Hold the cutter with your forefinger and thumb as though holding a pen. Start at the far edge and pull the cutter toward you. You do not need to bear down to score the glass. A light touch will do. You will hear a crackling sound as you pull the cutter. Once you start your score do not stop until you get to the very edge without dropping off. Do not go over the same score, doing this will damage the cutter.

To break glass the score line should always be on top. For breaking straight lines grasp the bottom of the glass with your hands on either side of the score. After you have a good grip and your thumbs toward the center but not touching the score line give it a quick snap downwards. Another way to snap it is to move the stained glass scored edge even with the edge of the table and snap downward. The running pliers are also great for doing this. Put the pliers in the center of the score line and squeeze.



Score curves the same way following the lines of your sharpie. Next to your scored line make additional score lines and break each individual line. With your combination pliers gently pull at the score line. Grozing pliers are good to nip away little pieces. Always remember to pull or break in a downward motion. To loosen a curve you can also pull the glass to the edge of the table with one hand, with the other hold the cutter underneath the glass lightly tapping upward along the score line.

Lay the pieces on the master copy and check how they fit together. If it does not fit right it will not look right. Your glass pieces are going to be sharp and need sanding. Use safety glasses at the glass grinder sanding each piece checking against the master copy.

Wrap each piece with foil by pulling the bottom strip back to expose the adhesive. Standing the glass on end center it on the foil wrapping it around overlapping just a bit then cut. A clothespin works great to go around each piece making sure it is smooth and secure to glass.

To keep the pieces from slipping around place your master on the plywood, then tap the nails into place flat side against the glass. Brush flux all along the foiled edges.

Heat the solder iron. Use a small damp sponge to occasional wipe off your iron. Remember this is very hot so use caution. Holding the solder over the glass with one hand and the iron in the other, drip solder on to the flux. Do this just in spots to tack together all the pieces then remove the nails. Place the iron tip on the glass between the pieces and run a bead melting the solder. You should try and leave a rounded bead behind as you follow your flux. Use a smooth continuous motion. The solder is what holds your piece together. Complete both sides. Work slowly but do not stay in one spot to long because it could crack the glass. The only problem that can occur here is if you hold the iron to long in one spot the solder will melt through to the other side.

Cut a small piece of wire and shape into a hook. Next coat the bottom of the hook with flux and solder into place.

Clean the project with a glass cleaner, apply patina then polish to a high shine. Hang it on your window.

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