Thursday, February 7, 2013

My Stained Glass Creation

Has anyone else just always loved glass? I know I sure have; glass dishes, glass sculptures, glass blowing, stained glass, etc.

This is the mini-story of how I was lucky enough as to create my own stained glass picture.

My Stained Glass Story

Opportunity struck when someone who bowls in my league was talking about his stained glass workshop. I mentioned my interest in all things glass, and he kindly offered to show me his shop and let me create my own piece. Hooray!

Now I won't tell you everything he taught me - can't go around blogging trade secrets! - but I'll show you some pictures and tell you the basics.

1. Draw your Pattern

This is a sun rising over some hills

Pick whatever it is you want your finished piece to be and draw it out. This is called a "cartoon," and you will be using this to trace and cut your glass on. Remember, tiny pieces and really round pieces are the easiest to mess up!

2. Cut the Glass

Took me about 3 hours to get all ten pieces cut

With just a simple glass cutter, trace along your cartoon and cut up all your pieces. This was the hardest part for me, as I didn't seem to be strong enough to cut through the glass sheets. It's all about finding your pressure angle though, and eventually my trusty helper got me to succeed.

Once they are all cut, lie them out on your cartoon and be sure they mostly fit together.

3. Tape it Up

You have to cover the edges of your glass in copper tape in order to make the really fun step work!

Line everything with copper tape...


4. Solder Everything!

Man, this was my favourite part. Cutting the glass should have been, but that blade gave me blisters... and cutting wasn't nearly as fun as soldering.

My phone's camera couldn't be expected to capture the beauty of these drops

Soldering is just so pretty! The tool slides right through the metal wire you use, even easier than a knife cutting butter. And then you are left looking down upon this beautiful little molten droplet of metal. You can drag the soldering iron along to "draw" with it, and get the metal anywhere you need it to be (which is all across every break in the picture). Then it dries almost instantaneously, and just like magic your glass pieces are held together.

5. Spruce and Shine

After you've soldered all the pieces together and into the frame, it's time to clean up your piece. Cut and peel off any copper tape that is still showing, buff with a stained glass polish, and finish with your chosen glass cleaner.

Then display your creation somewhere!

Mine is still smudged up because we ran out of time.

The End

And that's all! Together, it took me about 5-6 hours to complete. But if stained glass were something I did consistently, then this very simple piece probably would have only taken 1-2 hours.

The fun part is, anyone can do this at home if they exercise caution! I was surprised at how few tools it actually requires. If you just wanted the very basics, you would need:

  • Paper and marker
  • Glass cutter
  • Glass pieces
  • Copper tape
  • Lead framing
  • Soldering iron
  • Metal wire for soldering
  • A couple different oils

None of those even take up space! You can work in as big or as small an area as you want- preferably on a hard floor and table, as sprinkles of glass may find themselves traveling around.

I'm considering making some pieces on my own this summer in the garage. I really want to make a peacock feather, even though it would take me about eight years and forty blisters to cut all those pieces of glass... but it would be worth it once I was soldering again. Oh how I wish I could solder more in every day life! I've been trying to think of a way to combine crochet with soldering, but I'm pretty sure that kind of world just doesn't exist. At least not for very long after you start.

Alright I'll see you all on Sunday for my next Stash update! Plus I've got an exciting post for the coming week, the end of which will either detail utter disaster or extraordinary success. We'll see.


  1. Wow what a stunning piece of stained glass Ashley - its so simple and really effective! How fabulous it would be to combine crochet and soldering...I'm sure you'll think of a combined project sometime!
    Really intrigued about your next weeks post..hope for you it is a humdinger of a success!
    Ali x

    1. I'm really tempted to solder pieces instead of sewing them together.... but I feel like that's one of those ideas that just won't quite work. ;)

  2. I so need to do this! The projects are just endless!! I love how your first creation turned out! I need one for the space in my front step, to cover the light bulb...hint, hint.... : )

    1. That one might fit... did you check? :)