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Stained Glass

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How to Buy Stained Glass

If you have a retail stained glass shop, you probably already have a wholesale
account set up with a supplier like Ed Hoy's or Delphi Glass, but what if you
don't have a shop and you are a stained glass hobbyist? There are several
places you can go to buy stained glass.

You can establish a retail account with some of the same stained glass supply
companies with which retail stores set up their wholesale accounts. Most
require credit cards to pay for your purchases if you order by phone from their
stained glass catalogs. Some allow you to pay by check, but wait until the check
has cleared before they ship your stained glass order.

Stained glass magazines are full of advertisements for stained glass suppliers
and you can search on-line. The magazine advertisements and articles also show
pictures of some of the stained glass available so you get an idea of what the
different types of glass look like. The stained glass suppliers' catalogs have
color pictures of all the glass and colors they offer. The only problem is that
you can't get a true feel of the glass and see exactly how it looks with natural
light going through it.

If you can visit a stained glass warehouse, you will be able to see for
yourself the many colors and textures of stained glass. This will help you so
you know in the future what you are ordering. Be sure to call the stained glass
wholesale warehouse or store before you travel there to be sure that they are
open. Some wholesale stores only allow people with wholesale accounts in their
warehouses by appointment; some have certain days when retail buyers are

There are many types, textures and colors of stained glass from which to
choose. Sample boxes from different stained glass manufacturers can be
purchased, but are very expensive and not practical for a hobbyist. You can
create your own sample box by cutting squares or rectangles of about 1" x 2" of
the glass that you do purchase along the way. Label them with the manufacturer's
name, the color, and the universal order number which stands for the name, color
and texture.

When you order stained glass by phone or by mail order, the glass can be sent
to you in 12" x 12" sheets or up to 1/2 sheets. Most full-sized stained glass
sheets are 24" x 48" and do not ship well, so they have to be sent by freight
truck, which is quite expensive. If you order over $1,000 worth of full-size
stained glass sheets for your retail store, you can offset the cost of freight
through your retail pricing. If you are a hobbyist, it isn't practical.

You can purchase most of the stained glass you need through a local retail
stained glass shop. Some will special order glass for you, but don't be
surprised if a small shop owner cannot accommodate you by special ordering a
piece of stained glass. Wholesalers require them to meet minimum dollar amounts
and the small stained glass shop or studio owner probably will not be able to
meet that minimum based on your needs, alone. Stained glass shops with a larger
client base will place stained glass orders more frequently. You might have to
wait until the shop has a large enough stained glass purchase order.

Stained glass varies in texture and color. Your supplier may not be able to
match additional stained glass sheets; so, purchase all the stained glass for
your project at the same time.

How to Decorate With Stained Glass

Once upon a time, thousands of years ago, stained glass was used only in grand
Cathedral windows to bring in sunlight and illuminate the "hearts of men". Many
years later, wealthy aristocrats added the elegance of stained glass windows to
their mansions and palaces. These days just about anyone can decorate their
home with the beauty and elegance of stained glass. Back in the 18th century,
stained glass artists like Tiffany and La Farge changed the face of stained
glass and proved that the medium could be used for more than just windows.
Light fixtures, lamps, picture frames and mirrors lined with stained glass are
all beautiful additions to almost any home or business.

Where should you add stained glass? The entryway to the home is a good place to
begin as this is where your guest's first impression is made and it is also the
first sight welcoming you home each day. Stained glass will add color and style
to an otherwise boring door and window pane in your entryway. The stained glass
will allow light in while adding very desirable privacy to your home. Modern
stained glass comes in a variety of styles and colors and can easily be matched
to any decor whether modern or classic.

Living rooms can benefit from unique and beautiful Tiffany-style lamps. Choose
a color and style that compliments your upholstery, carpet and wall colors or
go for a highly contrasting eclectic look. The stained glass lamp can simply
blend in and be a useful source of light for reading or it can be the added bit
of character that serves as a "conversation piece" in the home. Either way "a
thing of beauty is a joy to behold" so add some joy to your living space!

The dining room is a great place for a stained glass chandelier. Beveled edges
and translucent colors will add interest and excitement to your table setting.
Lighting certainly sets the mood for the dining room and stained glass provides
just the right feel. Food even seems to taste better when served in beautiful
surroundings, don't you agree?

The bathroom can be accentuated with a beautifully stained glass framed mirror
and/or Tiffany-style light fixtures. How about a jewel-look stained glass soap
holder? Use one of the main colors in the stained glass to match your towels,
toothbrush holder, shower curtain and soap dispenser to for a fabulous, elegant
rich look. These items don't need to be expensive and your bathroom will look
like it belongs to the Vanderbilt's!

A beautiful stained glass window over the kitchen sink would certainly make
doing dishes more enjoyable. Casual meals in the breakfast nook would seem more
extraordinary when surrounded by beautiful stained glass. Dishes in one of the
jewel-tones of the stained glass and a contrasting jewel-toned tablecloth would
pull the look together nicely.

Saving the best for last...the bedroom! Beautiful stained glass lamps gracing
the nightstands on either side of the bed could help to set the mood. A stained
glass vase or jewelry box on top of the dresser could be just the touch you need.

There are so many ways to decorate with stained glass. You could easily put a
stained glass piece in every room of the house either to compliment your
decorating theme or even AS your decorating theme. Let your imagination run
wild and enjoy your newfound love of stained glass.

How Stained Glass is Made

Stained glass is a beautiful and unique art form that has existed for
centuries. Although many different techniques, such as painting on the glass,
have been created over the years, the process of making colored glass, true
stained glass remains nearly unchanged after all this time. The stained glass
making process begins with some basic natural raw materials like sand (silica),
soda or potash, lead oxide or lime and one of the various metal oxides to
provide the different colors used in stained glass designs. These raw
materials, in their proper proportions are then mixed in a large vat and heated
to 2500? F turning the mixture into molten glass which can then be processed in
a variety of ways depending on the effect desired for a particular piece of
stained glass.

For instance, to make the glass used in stained glass windows, a lump of the
molten glass is caught up at one end of a blow pipe, blown into a cylinder-like
shape, cut, then compressed into sheets and cooled. This process may be varied
in order to produce different effects. "Flashed glass" is made by putting a
ball of molten white glass inside of a layer of molten colored glass which,
when blown and flattened, results in a less concentrated color because it will
be white on one side and colored on the other.

This allows a much greater variety of colors to be created for use in stained
glass art. Another process that is used for making Cathedral glass is done by
rolling the molten glass into flat sheets. Then there are the "Norman slabs"
which are created by blowing the molten glass into a rectangular box shaped
mold. The sides are then sliced apart and formed into slabs which are slightly
thinner at the edges and thicker in the center. Larger manufacturers use much
the same techniques, but the mixing and shaping processes are done with large
machines instead of by hand.

As mentioned above various metal oxides are added to produce different colors
of stained glass. Golden, yellow and vermillion glass is sometimes created by
using uranium, cadmium sulfide or titanium. Adding gold produces a beautiful
ruby color Cobalt creates most shades of blue. Chromium and iron oxides can
also create green shades. Copper oxide is very versatile and depending on the
conditions it is used under it can create ruby red, bluish or green colors.

The beautiful pieces of stained glass are turned into beautiful stained glass
windows and other beautiful artwork in a variety of ways. The oldest way is by
(in simple terms) cutting out a design and then assembling the pieces together
using "lead cames" which are basically made from strips of grooved lead which
is then soldered to the glass. Different metal bars and loops are soldered to
the lead in order to allow the stained glass window to be installed in a
church, home or other building.

Other techniques use a special type of cement or other metals "foiled" to hold
the stained glass pieces together. The methods for creating stained glass have
survived and proven effective for thousands of years and will almost certainly
continue to do so for many thousands more to come.

Beginning Stained Glass Class -- What Should I Expect to Learn

Every stained glass instructor is different, but the things you will learn from
someone who has already been through the frustrations of learning the art of
stained glass are invaluable. Learning in a stained glass class will save you a
lot of time and grief that you would encounter if you were self-taught. You will
learn the basic techniques for scoring, breaking, grinding and leading stained
glass. You will also learn about the basic tools necessary to complete a
stained glass project.

In your stained glass class, you will learn how to select stained glass for
your projects. You will learn about different types, textures and colors of
stained glass and how to optimize the use of colors in your design.

You might not create your own design for your first project. You will probably
do a simple stained glass suncatcher from a pattern. Depending on the length of
your stained glass class, you might also make a small stained glass panel.

You will begin by choosing glass for your stained glass project. You will learn
the appropriate way to hold a scoring tool and then how to break the scored
glass with your hands, groziers, or running pliers (for straight lines). You'll
be taught that scoring is done on the smoother side of the stained glass.

To successfully break the stained glass, you will learn how to score straight
lines, inside curves and outside curves. Your experienced teacher will be able
to show you tricks that will make these easier to do and which tools work best.
He/she should have different styles of tools for you to try out so that you can
choose what works best for you.

You will also learn how to use a glass grinder so that you can smooth the edges
of the stained glass and make adjustments so that the pieces will fit the
stained glass design. As you lay the pieces of glass on the pattern, you must
leave just enough space between them to make up for the thickness of the lead
came or copper foil that will be wrapped around them.

You will either learn the copper foil method of stained glass or the lead came
method. You will learn how to wrap and burnish the stained glass edges with
copper foil. Be patient, this will take practice. You will learn how to
assemble your stained glass project using lead channels. You will learn how to
use cutting tools in order for you to cut and fit the came so that your stained
glass project will have smooth lines and joints.

You'll be shown different tools for wrapping foil; or, you might prefer to wrap
by hand. Various burnishing tools are available. Try out different tools.

For the copper foil stained glass project, you will use flux to prepare the
foil for applying solder to it. You will learn how to use a soldering iron and
how to "tin" the foil by applying a flat coat of solder to all surfaces of the
foil. Next, you will go back over it and apply a smooth, raised "bead" line. In
the lead came project you will learn how to solder the joints and fill the gap
between the glass and lead with "putty." The next step you will learn is how to
add a patina which will turn the solder black and makes the colors of the
stained glass pop out.

After you have framed the project, finally, you will learn how to clean and
polish your completed stained glass panel.

Designing Your Own Stained Glass

Creating works of art in stained glass in an immensely satisfying and
interesting hobby. To get started you might decide to take a class or grab a
couple of how-to books and prepare for a little trial and error. Either way,
your first few projects will probably be made either from a pre-made kit or
with a pattern from a book or printed from a website. You may soon decide that
you are ready to create your own stained glass design and bring it to life.
Although the idea may seem daunting at first, you will soon find the challenge
inspiring and realize that designing your own stained glass is not as difficult
as you first thought.

All stained glass art projects, big and small begin with a cartoon. The cartoon
is a drawing on paper of what you would like your stained glass artwork to look
like. The fact that you are translating your artwork into a stained glass piece
provides some extra challenges. You will have to take into consideration the
strength and integrity that the different sized pieces of stained glass will
create. You will need to keep in mind the copper or lead "skeleton" that is
created by your came. This skeleton needs to be thought of as not only a
strength or support to the stained glass, but an integral part of the design
itself. This can be an advantage as you are forced to stretch your creativity
and add extra lines where you might not have initially considered, unexpectedly
adding more depth to your design.

There are many places you can and should look for inspiration for your stained
glass design. You will find many books and websites about stained glass from
which you may find ideas. Paintings, magazines, your home furnishings or any
interesting pattern you see may provide insight. Your stained glass art may be
a scene from a family photo, a familiar landscape or a completely abstract

Once you have decided on a design for your stained glass it is time to draw it
out on paper. Think of the size your finished piece will be and draw the
perimeter and begin planning the stained glass design within it. Once you have
made the initial drawing, look it over and think about whether any of the
pieces will be too difficult to cut and consider changing the lines slightly to
avoid difficult cuts. Remember that smaller pieces with more leading between
them will make the stained glass stronger, so consider adding lines in areas
that are too large. When working on your first design, keep it simple so you
can gain experience and build your confidence before moving on to more
difficult pieces. Remember that even the great American stained glass artists
like Tiffany and La Farge started with small jobs before they adorned America's
great churches!

Once you are satisfied with your pencil drawing, ink it in and make several
copies. You will need one for cutting the stained glass design out and at least
one other for checking that the pieces fit together. When placing your pattern
pieces to cut your glass take into consideration any irregularities or streaks
in the glass and consider how to use them to your advantage such as a streaky
blue being used for a cloudy sky. Most importantly, relax and trust you
intuition. Your stained glass will be a one-of-a-kind and an expression of your
unique personality.

A Brief History of Stained Glass

Accounts vary on the earliest use of stained glass mainly because it was
invented before recorded history. Some historians claim it was first used as a
domestic luxury in the homes of wealthy Romans in the first century. Stained
glass eventually gained recognition as an art form sometime in the fourth
century as Christians began to worship openly and built elaborate churches to
celebrate their religion. Other historians point to evidence in ancient ruins
that implicate the use of stained glass in pagan traditions and decor. While we
may never know the exact origin of the medium of stained glass it is clear that
the spread of Christianity is directly related to the expansion of stained
glass across the globe.

The twelfth century began what is known as the Gothic Era and stained glass
windows took center stage in elaborate and monumental cathedral designs.
Beginning with the innovative designs on the St. Denis, stained glass windows
were used to bring light, both literally and metaphorically, into cathedrals to
enhance the worship experience. Most of the stained glass from the St. Denis
Cathedral was destroyed during the French Revolution but a few select fragments
and even some entire windows can be found on display in varying locations
throughout Europe.

The bold lines and strong figures of Gothic style stained glass were eventually
phased out as Renaissance artisans leaned toward greater detail, more delicate
coloring and increased realism. Stained glass windows evolved into something
more like a painting on glass than an architectural element and some of the
notable elements such as lead lines disappeared. Although there were numerous
pieces created and even some masterpieces, due to the difficulties in
expressing the great detail of requisite to the Renaissance era, true stained
glass became somewhat of a lost art.

Stained glass had been primarily used by the Catholic Church and much of the
precious art form was destroyed during the 1600's by order of King Henry VIII
after his break with the Church. Not only were cherished stained glass windows
recklessly destroyed, but many of the glass making facilities were ruined as
well. Religious unrest was not the only factor in the decline of stained glass.
During the Baroque period the fashion leaned toward more intricately detailed
interiors and elaborate wall painting which necessitated the use of clear glass
in the architecture. Many of the remaining stained glass windows were left
unmaintained and allowed to decay during this period and very few new stained
glass windows were created.

During the late seventeenth century the hearts and imaginations of the people
returned once again to the Gothic style of architecture. This revival was
apparently motivated by the need to escape the harsh realities of "modern" life
including the daily grind of factories. With the return of Gothic architecture
emerged a newfound interest in stained glass. Artists initially continued to
use the technique of painting on glass, but eventually realized the superiority
of the old pot metal glasses used in medieval times. Since the old techniques
had not been used for such a long time, the technique used for making the lead
lines had been lost and the artisans of the period floundered when trying to
recreate the dynamics of the Gothic stained glass. This coupled with a
reluctance to give up the newer more detailed "modern" depictions of scenes and
figures lead to windows with an interesting design with the old architecture and
an unusual blend of the old and new stained glass styles.

During the nineteenth century, artisans La Farge and Tiffany created new
variations of opalescent stained glass. La Farge tended towards architecture
and window designs with a small private studio, while Tiffany boasted a larger
studio that branched out into other areas, like the Tiffany Lamp which has
become a household name. Today's stained glass artists are bound by no
particular style or religious themes. Much of the work they do involves
restoration, but can also be seen in both small and large decorative touches in
homes of people from almost any economic background. New and innovative
techniques are constantly being discovered and stained glass continues to add
interest to our lives.

Turn Your Stained Glass Hobby into a Fun Job

You have honed your stained glass construction skills and have given all your
friends and family stained glass gifts for every occasion. Why not earn back
some of your expenses and more? You can and you can have fun doing it.

Most stained glass hobbyists find that they have several beautiful stained
glass suncatchers, candle votives and other small projects on hand. They often
test the waters by beginning with booths at craft fairs and other similar
events. Most small booths at craft fairs are reasonably priced. You don't have
to spend a lot of money for an elaborate setup.

If your booth is indoors, a few bright lights shining on your stained glass
items will enhance their beauty and attract attention. It is best if you can
hang the suncatchers, so you could build a portable frame topped with lattice
work and hang them with plastic fishing line. Be sure to weight the frame down
if you are outdoors. One gust of wind can destroy all of your work.

Make sure you have good strong boxes and plenty of packing material to
transport your stained glass projects to and from your craft shows. If you pack
carefully you will prevent accidents and broken stained glass items. If your
vehicle isn't large enough to haul everything, you might consider borrowing or
renting a small trailer; but it is best to keep your expenses as low as
possible. The idea is to make a profit.

Some stained glass crafters build projects all winter then travel to craft
shows all spring, summer and fall. They find that they do well in sales and
enjoy meeting people and traveling. They may include shows during the Christmas
shopping season because stained glass articles make excellent gifts and stocking
stuffers and sell well as last minute gift items.

Selling stained glass items on eBay and on-line websites can be done year
around and from home. This way the stained glass crafter can sell on
speculation or by special order. The advantage to selling on speculation is
that you can choose the project you want to do and not worry about deadlines or
meeting anyone's specifications. You can work at home in your own personal
workshop and then list the items online when you have completed them. Be sure
to include a photo with your listing to optimize your chances of selling.

Pack the sold stained glass items carefully for safe shipping and require
insurance so that if an item is broken in shipping, the customer will be happy
to come back to you and you will be paid for repair or replacement of the
broken stained glass project.

Repair and reconstruction of stained glass is a more specialized area of
stained glass work that customers look for but have a hard time finding
artisans willing to do that kind of work. You can create a special niche for
income if you become expert at stained glass repair and construction.

Opening a stained glass retail store is an expensive venture. If you can
purchase one that is going out of business, it might be more within your budget
and you would be inheriting an existing customer base.

Teaching stained glass classes in your home studio or even as non-credit
classes at your local university is good income and lots of fun. You can even
have students learn as they help you work on a large stained glass project. You
get paid by the student and paid for the stained glass project and be paid for
having fun!

Supplies for Getting Started in Stained Glass

This list is meant to help create a shopping list for the beginning stained
glass art student. Not all of the items will be needed for every project, for
instance you will use either lead cames OR copper foil and their corresponding
accessories depending on the stained glass style you will be working with.
Other tools listed may be very helpful, but not entirely necessary, one pair of
pliers may be enough to do several jobs for example.

Glass Cutters -- One of the most important tools you will use in stained glass
making, good glass cuts will make or break your project. These range from very
inexpensive carbide steel wheel cutters (you will need to add cutting oil as
you go along) to slightly more expensive self-oiling tungsten carbide or pistol
grip wheel cutters.

Cutting Oil -- This helps to reduce friction allowing a smoother cut and also
keeps glass debris from encumbering the cutting wheel's progress.

Soldering Iron -- (pronounced like soddering) This is used to melt lead solder
which in turn is used to join pieces of metal, such as the lead cames or copper
foil that will hold your stained glass pieces together.

Solder -- The type you will be using in stained glass making should be an alloy
(mixture) of tin and lead. This usually comes in a spool of either a 50/50 or
60/40 blend. The 60/40 is slightly more expensive, flows more smoothly and is
therefore preferable for making a stained glass project.

Sal Ammoniac -- This is soldering iron tip cleaner made from a naturally
occurring mineral that reacts to the heat of the soldering iron and removes
debris when the iron is gently rubbed on it.

Flux -- Helps remove oxidation and other dirt and debris from the metal
surfaces so that the solder can adhere to it. This is an absolute necessity to
keep your stained glass pieces together; the solder just won't "stick" without

Flux Brush -- A very inexpensive brush used to apply the flux.

Flux Remover -- Can be used to neutralize flux or patina and is often used at
the end of projects to clean up small errors and over-flow.

Cutting Square -- Helpful when drawing squares or other designs requiring a
right angle.

Ruler -- Used for measuring project dimensions as well as for drawing or
cutting a straight line. A non-skid backing such as cork or rubber will help
keep it from sliding on the glass.

Pattern Shears -- These are special scissors that automatically cut the proper
size strip of paper between pattern pieces to allow room for the lead cames or
copper foils to be placed between the various stained glass pieces of the

Grozing Pliers -- These pliers have narrow, serrated jaws for picking up small
chucks of glass and can be used to remove uneven or jagged pieces of stained
glass after cutting.

Running Pliers -- These thick pliers help to carefully break stained glass
pieces that have been scored on the design lines.

Needle Nose Pliers -- A good all around tool to keep handy, can be used for
small detail work.

Wire Cutters -- These can be used to cut reinforcing wire or the picture
hanging wire to hang your finished stained glass art project.

Hammer or Mallet -- A good rubber headed mallet can be used to gently tap
stained glass pieces into place.

Carborundum Stone -- A trademarked name for a grinding tool used to smooth the
edges of cut pieces of stained glass. Should be wetted periodically to make
smoothing easier.

Electric Glass Grinder -- A bit more luxurious way to smooth the glass edges;
this is a machine that will do the job faster and more efficiently. This is
definitely nice, but optional.

Copper Foil -- One of the choices of material to hold the pieces of stained
glass together. Comes in various widths depending on the look of your
project-make sure your pattern shears are the same width as your foil or came.

Copper Foil Dispenser -- Another nicety, this makes handling the copper foil
easier, much the way a tape dispenser makes tape easier to handle.

Lead Cames -- The original choice in stained glass support systems. These come
as long strips of lead with grooves or channels on either one side or both,
depending on whether it is to be used as an inside or outer edge piece of the
stained glass.

Lead Vise -- Holds the lead came in place to allow it to be stretched before

Lead Cutters -- Also known as lead pliers these snips are especially helpful
when cutting cames for use in the corners of your stained glass project.

Lead Knife -- Can be used to make clean straight cuts on lead cames.

Horseshoe Nails -- Great for holding frames in place when assembling your
stained glass project.

Dustpan and Brush -- Helps to keep your workplace clean which is important in
making stained glass projects because debris will prevent things from sticking

Safety Goggles -- Keeps pieces of lead or glass from damaging the eyes during
cutting, always remember "safety first"!

Wooden Block Holder -- Can be helpful for holding pieces of stained glass.

Masking Tape -- Always handy in the workshop; may be used to hold pattern
pieces together or many other uses.

Picture Hanging Wire or Other Fasteners -- For hanging your completed stained
glass project.

Lead Board with Right Angle Support -- Useful in holding a lead stained glass
project in place during assembly while keeping the edges clean and straight.

Wood or Plastic Fid -- Great as a burnishing or spreading tool when applying
foil to stained glass.

Glazing Cement -- Seals and strengthens the joint areas of the lead cames.

Whiting -- Helps to dry and set the glazing cement. Can also be used to remove
excess putty from the stained glass.

Stiff Bristle Brush -- Used for applying glazing cement.

Patina -- Liquid solution that changes the appearance of solder, can give a
more antiqued appearance.

Rubber Gloves -- Absolutely necessary when applying patina or any other
solvents to the project; you do not want these penetrating your skin!

Mirror Sealer -- This aerosol spray is used on the back of mirrors to keep the
reflective coating from being scratched or damaged.

Finishing Compound -- Provides the finishing touch to your stained glass
project, adding polish and shine while providing a protective finish to help
prevent oxidation and tarnish buildup.

Pushpins, Tacks and Jig Material -- Items that may be helpful in holding
certain pieces together while assembling your stained glass project.

Craft Knife -- Perfect for correcting small errors in copper foiling and other
small tasks.

Steel Wool -- May remove oxidized material from solder and other metal parts.

Plastic Basin and Sponge -- With warm soapy water to clean glass and metal
debris from your stained glass workspace.

Carbon Paper -- For making pattern copies.

Tracing Paper -- For tracing the original design unto a clean copy.

Rubber Cement -- For holding pattern pieces on glass to make cutting them out

Pens, Pencils, Markers and Colored Pencils -- Needed for drawing and coloring
in pattern pieces.

There you have it, a not-so-condensed shopping list to get you on your way to a
new hobby in stained glass art making!

Stained Glass Workshop Safety Tips

Whether you are an experienced or new stained glass crafter or artisan, it is
important to think about safety in your stained glass workshop or studio. There
are the obvious hazards of working around glass, but tools and chemicals can
also be hazardous.

When you go to your stained glass supplier, do not bring small children. There
is too big of a risk of being cut by glass and being exposed to toxic fumes,
dust and lead. Most stained glass warehouses post signs requesting that small
children do not go into areas where the stained glass is stored. Your local
retail stained glass dealer would appreciate not having the stress of having a
"bull in a China shop."

When carrying sheets of stained glass, wear gloves that help you have a good
grip on the glass. The gloves should protect your hands from cuts from the
razor sharp edges of the stained glass. Grip the glass on each side. Carrying
it with one hand on top and one on bottom creates a hazard that the glass could
snap in two. If you grip from each side and the sheet of stained glass breaks,
you have a better chance of letting the glass slip away from you without being

When scoring and breaking stained glass at your workbench, wear protective
eyewear and gloves. Be careful not to use your hand to swipe glass shards out
of your way. Keep a bench brush and dust pan handy so that you can frequently
brush off your workbench. This will reduce accidents and also keep a smooth
surface to work on.

The tiniest glass shard under a piece of stained glass that you are scoring can
cause the piece you are working on to have an unwanted break.

Never use a glass grinder without protecting your eyes. Glass particles can fly
up into your eyes and cause terrible pain and may permanently damage your eyes.
Most glass grinders are equipped with face shields or face shields can be
purchased separately.

While grinding your stained glass, wear goggles that shield your eyes from all
sides to prevent glass particles from getting in your eyes from underneath
since the grinder is below eye level. It would also be a good idea to wear a
paper mask to prevent breathing in the glass particles and dust that could be
harmful to your sinuses and lungs.

When leading the stained glass pieces, wear gloves to protect you from exposure
to lead poisoning. If you have cuts on your hands, cover them with band-aids.
Pay careful attention to your hot soldering iron. Don't look away and reach for
your iron. You might grasp the wrong end of the iron... the end that is several
hundred degrees hot!

Make sure that your area is well ventilated when you are soldering. Fumes from
solder and flux contain harmful lead and acid. Solder scraps should be kept in
a special container for taking to a recycler.

Sometimes new stained glass crafters don't have a workshop and think they can
begin by working at their kitchen table or counter. That is a definite risk of
exposing you and your family to lead poisoning, chemical contamination, and
hazards from the shards of stained glass. It would be better to set up a space
in your garage or an unused room. Some stained glass shops will allow you to
rent bench time.

Common sense and a clean stained glass workshop will help keep you safe and add
to your enjoyment of the art of stained glass.

How to Install Your Stained Glass Window

Many centuries ago stained glass windows were used almost exclusively in
grandiose cathedrals. The installation was easily achieved as on opening was
made in the stone and concrete structure to the window specifications (or the
window was made to the size of the opening) and metal loops and bars were
cemented into the window opening during construction specifically to be
soldered to the metal bars and loops that are attached to the stained glass
window. Stained glass in no longer limited to places of religious worship or
even to just the rich and famous, so how does one go about installing a stained
glass window in a modern day structure?

You have a several options available to you, assuming that you do not live in a
grand cathedral and that your home was not specifically constructed with stained
glass windows in mind.

One of the easiest ways to install your stained glass window is over the
existing window. Your stained glass window overlay should measure about 1/8"
smaller around each edge than the original window. First make sure the existing
window and inside window frame is clean and dry, you don't want any dirt or
moisture permanently pressed between the pieces of glass. First, check to see
that the stained glass panel will fit into your window. You can place 1/8"
cardboard or wood spacers around the bottom of the window and run a small bead
of caulk around the inside edge of the window frame.

You may use either clear caulk or a colored caulk that matches your window
frame. Now, press the stained glass panel into place and fill in carefully with
additional caulk. Be sure to smooth the caulk carefully with your fingers,
wiping the excess unto clean tissue and discarding immediately. It is important
not to get the caulk on the stained glass panel (if you do simply wipe it away
with clean fingers and wipe them with clean tissue). Once the window is caulked
in place you will need to secure it there for 24 hours to allow the caulk to set

Using wood blocks or stacked pieces of cardboard brace the window in place and
tape across the bracing for the next day. At this point, you may consider the
job complete or you could add some wood trim around the inside for a more
finished look and added stability. Another easy solution would be to use your
stained glass panel as a window hanging and simply solder hooks to the rebar on
your stained glass panel secure a chain into the window frame and hang the
stained glass panel. This option allows you to take your stained glass with you
if you move.

The next option may require some professional help. You may want to have your
stained glass panel put into a wood, aluminum, or vinyl window frame. The
stained glass window can be protected on either side with tempered glass which
will provide better insulation to your home as well. At this point the window
can be installed in the same way as a normal new or replacement window, by
screwing it into the window frame. Whatever method you choose, your new stained
glass window is sure to add beauty, value and enjoyment to your home.

How Much Will a Custom Stained Glass Window Cost?

When you go to a stained glass artisan, don't expect to walk in and tell
him/her you want a window put in your front door and then ask, "How much will
it cost?" The stained glass artisan cannot give you a quote off the top of
his/her head. There is a process to arriving at a price for a stained glass

When you know that you want a custom stained glass window, you should arrive at
the stained glass studio with some facts and ideas before you ask a stained
glass artisan for a price quote. The first thing you need to know is the exact
measurement of the opening. The base price of a custom built stained glass
piece begins with pricing based on square footage, and then per piece.
Therefore, the more intricate the piece is, the more costly.

Each stained glass artisan has his/her own pricing scale. An example of just
the basis of the quote would be: $125 per square foot plus $1.50 per piece in
the pattern for a stained glass window constructed with lead came. A lower
charge of $110 per square foot plus $1.50 per piece might be given for a
stained glass window constructed with copper foil. But that's just the

If you don't know what design to settle on and you request full-size cartoons
(patterns) to look at on your opening, the stained glass artisan might charge
$50 or more per cartoon to cover his/her extra time -- especially if you decide
not to have the stained glass window made.

The type of glass used in a stained glass window has bearing on the cost. For
instance, red glass is more expensive than some other colors because gold is a
metal used in making red glass. The brand Kokomo glass is generally more
expensive than Spectrum glass. Some of the "art" glass is more expensive than
other glass.

Beveled glass and bevel clusters (especially if they have to be custom made)
are often far more expensive than stained glass. For an individual stained
glass artisan to custom make bevel clusters, it requires a lengthy process.
This would increase the quoted price for your custom stained glass window.

If you decide to have gems, glass globs or faceted jewels or rondels added to
the design, these will increase the price of your custom stained glass window.
Some gems are more expensive than others, and these add to the intricacy of the
work to be done.

Other considerations in the overall cost of your stained glass window are
installation and how it will be framed and whether or not the artisan will be
responsible for framing and installation. The stained glass artisan may refer
you to a framer or a carpenter if the artisan does not do the installation.
Other costs include things like whether or not a storm window is included or if
the stained glass piece will be sandwiched and weather-sealed between two pieces
of glass.

It will help the stained glass artisan to know what type of glass to choose if
you know whether or not you need glass that will provide total privacy. Is
there anything that you would like to bring into the stained glass design like
nature or flowers? Do you want colors or just clear textures? Do you like
Prairie style or Art Nouvea?

When you have a design and the glass chosen and the finished size, your stained
glass artisan will be able to give you a price on your beautiful custom stained
glass window.

Enhance the Beauty of Your Garden with Stained Glass Art

Stained glass isn't just for windows any more. The beauty of your garden can be
enhanced by capturing the beauty of the sun's natural light through stained
glass art. Stained glass ornaments in your garden will capture the sun's
natural light and the stained glass will sparkle as the light dances off its

A stained glass stepping stone or garden stone path provides a wonderful
mixture of color and design leading to the entry to your flower garden. Stained
glass mosaic garden stone designs are fun to do and can be placed throughout
your garden. You can make them yourself with regular concrete mix or special
colored DiamondCRETE(tm)Garden Stone Concrete. You can make your own wooden
molds or purchase molds from your retailers or wholesalers.

With Tiffany Garden Borders patterns you can build a 4-foot concrete and
stained glass circular garden border around your flowerbed, tree, birdbath,
backyard pond, sundial or herb garden.

If you aren't experienced at scoring, breaking and grinding stained glass, just
break random scraps of stained glass and arrange them in a design, or in no
particular design, in your concrete form.

You can buy easy-to-make stepping stone kits in craft stores, like Hobby Lobby,
or in the craft aisles of Wal-Mart or online. Stained glass shops and suppliers
have hundreds of patterns and instructional books on stained glass garden
stones and other stained glass garden ornaments.

Whimsical frogs, fish and turtle stained glass designs on concrete rain spout
deflectors are more attractive than the ordinary plastic ones you see under
everyone's gutter drains.

Picture beautiful stained glass and beveled or prism glass wind chimes flashing
brilliant colors. The sound of the stained glass shapes bouncing off each other
is pleasing when they are moved by a gentle breeze.

Iron garden stakes frame colorful stained glass designs which are
interchangeable. You can change the design to fit any season or special
occasion. The stained glass garden stakes can be placed throughout the garden
or by your front door. Guests will enjoy the warm, welcoming feeling they get
when they see the warm colorful stained glass garden stakes and stepping stones.

Another gardeners' favorite is stained glass wire stake designs for flowerpots
and smaller garden beds. Three-dimensional stained glass hummingbirds,
butterflies, ladybugs, dragonflies and other creatures are favorite colorful
additions to any patio flowerpot.

A popular stained glass garden project is a resting bench. This is a larger and
heavier stained glass project but is worth the effort. The beautiful designs in
the many available patterns for stained glass benches fit so well in a
beautiful, colorful garden, or under a shade tree. Many have been used in
cemeteries and church yards as a lovely, restful place to pause and reflect.

There are iron frames for patio tables to be done in stained glass mosaics.
They can be purchased though stained glass suppliers, shops and online. There
are many stained glass patterns and books available for the patio tables; or,
as always, you can be creative and come up with your own stained glass mosaic
table design.

What about a cozy looking stained glass fireplace screen in front of your patio
fireplace, or stained glass patio lanterns or porch light fixtures?

You can make any stained glass garden decoration yourself or have a stained
glass artisan design and make it for you. You can decorate garden walls or
patio floors with stained glass mosaic designs. When it comes to decorating
your garden, deck, or patio with stained glass, you are limited only by your
own imagination.

Stained Glass Windows -- a Light unto the Soul

Light is truly the inspiration for stained glass in both the physical and
literal senses. During the Gothic Era from about 1150-1500 A.D. there was no
electricity so alternate ways of lighting Cathedrals was necessary. Immense and
exquisite stained glass windows were created and intended to provide physical
light by allowing in much needed sunlight, but they were also intended to
provide spiritual light. The King James Version of the Bible in John 8:12 says
"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that
followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
Jesus was the inspiration for and his life, gruesome death and subsequent
resurrection were the subject of the majority of stained glass windows created
during that period in history.

Grand and magnificent cathedrals carved up gigantic stones and supported by
immense pillars and flying buttresses reaching up towards the Heavens in
worship of God and His son were crowned with beautiful jewels known as stained
glass. In some Cathedrals, stained glass panels covered entire walls and the
supporting pillars go almost entirely unnoticed. The pillars alone could not
have supported the weight of the structure, which is the purpose of the flying
buttresses (they braced the structure from the outside).

The art of making stained glass has been poetically referred to as "painting
with light" taking the analogy even further. This term was coined due to the
fact that rather than reflecting light off of it, a stained glass window allows
light to be transmitted through it. It is a unique partnership, as neither the
light nor the window is as magnificent without the other.

Abbot Suger of the Cathedral at St. Denis in France was among the first to
employ the Gothic form of architecture in an attempt to glorify God and Jesus
Christ. The following quote is taken from a writing of Suger, included as a
part of a transcription on the doors to the Cathedral. That gives insight into
his motivations for using large amounts of stained glass and the relationship
of the physical light to the spiritual, "...The noble work is bright, but,
being nobly bright, the work should brighten the minds, allowing them to travel
through the lights to the true light, where Christ is the true door."

He later gave a detailed explanation as to what the purpose of the exemplary
works of stained glass window art were in the church; "Thus sometimes when,
because of my delight in the beauty of the house of God, the multicolor
loveliness of the gems has called me away from external cares, and worthy
meditation, transporting me from material to immaterial things, has persuaded
me to examine the diversity of holy virtues, then I seem to see myself existing
on some level, as it were, beyond our earthly one, neither completely in the
slime of earth nor completely in the purity of heaven.

By the gift of God I can be transported in an anagogical manner from this
inferior level to that superior one." Walking into a mighty cathedral such as
St. Denis, even today, one can feel the influence this passion for light had on
the development of the art of stained glass making and the worship of God during
the Gothic Era.

Stained Glass Scoring and Breaking -- an Art in Itself

Scoring and breaking stained glass is an art that you can achieve but not
without some practice. All it takes is a little patience and you will soon be
able to cut and break stained glass like a pro! The first thing to do when
cutting stained glass is to relax when you are handling stained glass. It will
make the work go much more smoothly.

Having the proper stained glass cutter is important. Various companies
manufacture different types of stained glass cutters. They have cutting wheels
of either carbide or steel. The wheel size and honing angles vary for use in
specific types of glass cutting.

If you want the proper cutter for stained glass, it is best to go to a stained
glass supplier. Cutters in hardware stores are generally made specifically for
cutting clear glass.

Carbide wheels cost more but last longer than steel wheels. They will
eventually get dull or even nicked and have to be replaced; but, you can
replace the wheel only and not have to get a whole new cutter.

Stained glass cutters need to be lubricated to keep the wheels rolling freely.
Most stained glass cutters, like Toyo or Fletcher pistol grip and pencil grip
cutters, have a reservoir for lubricating oil which runs down a wick to the
cutting wheel.

Stained glass cutters come with different handles which make the choice one of
preference and fit. Once you have chosen your favorite cutters, it is best not
to let other people use your cutter. They will put pressure on it differently
than you which changes the balance.

Pencil grip stained glass cutters have a ball on one end which is used to tap
the stained glass underneath the score line to begin a running break so that
the glass can be pulled apart. Stained glass that has been scored can be pulled
apart by hand; but sometimes, the glass pieces are too small to grip. Glass
pliers can be used to separate the pieces that are too small to grasp.

Special "running" pliers are made for breaking straight lines. Some glass
pliers have smooth gripping surfaces. Others have teeth for scraping off rough
edges or shards of stained glass. Gripping one side of the glass firmly with
your thumb along one side of the score gives the glass some stability. The
breakers are used on the opposite side, pointing toward the score. You use a
quick pulling away and down motion.

If your score is long, it is better to "rock" your pliers at one end to start a
running break; then do the same at the opposite end of the score, then pull the
stained glass apart.

A good score is done in one continuous motion. Starts and stops will only cause
a bad score line which will end up in a bad break. Going over a score line twice
dulls your stained glass cutter and makes a bad score line.

Stand up when scoring stained glass so that you can apply even pressure using
the weight of your arm and leave your wrist free to follow curves. A metal
ruler can be used to assist in cutting straight lines.

Be sure to hold the stained glass cutter straight up and down. If your cutter
is leaning to one side, it results in a beveled cut, causing the stained glass
pieces to fit poorly. Make sure you glass is clean before you cut it so that
nothing interferes with a smooth score. Cut on the smooth side of the stained

Stained Glass Projects for Children

Stained glass is a beautiful art form that combines the use of various colors,
shapes, textures and transparencies with light to illuminate, decorate and
inspire the mind, spirit and eye of the beholder. Children have always been,
and will always be, fascinated with shapes and colors which makes the art form
of stained glass perfect for them.

Unlike a coloring book page which is colored once and then maybe taped to the
refrigerator for a few days before finding its way to the garbage can, a
stained glass creation can bring enjoyment and help boost a child's self-esteem
for many years to come. There is nothing better than a beautiful constant
reminder of the child's great "achievement".

In its early days, long before Christ was born, stained glass was made by
mixing different metals with sand and soda and heating them at high
temperatures so that the colors were actually a part of the glass. This type
was thicker and the colors were rich and dark. Throughout the decades styles
and tastes changed and new ways of using stained glass were needed. As people
wanted to get more detail in their stained glass windows and also allow more
light in, they began to use the technique of painting on the glass, rather than
mixing the colors into while making it. This would be the easiest way to
introduce a child to the art of stained glass. Many craft stores and mass
marketers carry ready made stained glass kits that allow the child to make
beautiful sun catchers or Christmas tree ornaments.

These kits are very easy to use. Most have kid friendly designs with raised
metal borders and the child can use an eye dropper to add a stain to the
different areas of glass. These kits are basically fool-proof and allow the
child to easily create something beautiful without any smudges or smears.

Another idea to capture the feeling of stained glass is to use black colored
paper as your "lead came". You will need to go through two sheets at once to
create your design with various shapes cut out. You may use either thin colored
crepe paper or two sheets of waxed paper that have had crayon shavings ironed
between them as your "stained glass". This is something that can be created
easily with objects you probably already have laying around the house.

Children love to learn and using a stained glass project provides the
opportunity to teach them on a variety of topics such as art appreciation, the
history of religion, architecture for the older students and things as simple
as colors and shapes for pre-school and kindergarten ages children. Any project
that allows a child to be creative, spend time with their parents and develop
their self-esteem is worthy of taking into consideration and stained glass
craft making certainly meets those requirements. So why not make some cookies
grab a stained glass art kit and your favorite child or children and spend some
quality time creating stained glass art?

Stained Glass Painting

There are many techniques that can be used to create beautiful and interesting
works of art in stained glass. This article deals with stained glass painting.
This technique has been used for centuries and was the most popular form of
stained glass during the Renaissance era due to their keen aspiration for
intricate details in artwork. Painting of stained glass became so popular, in
fact, that the earlier stained glass arts of using "pot metal glass" almost
disappeared entirely.

You will need several items handy to do stained glass painting. Obviously you
will need paint and paintbrushes, if you cannot afford the specialized stained
glass type you may be able to improvise with regular artist's paintbrushes. You
will also need access to a kiln to set your work. Many professional studios will
allow you to use their kiln for an hourly rate. Next, you will need a palette
for mixing your paint. A piece of sandblasted glass is the most suitable choice
for mixing you stained glass paints. A palette knife is a helpful tool in mixing
the paint. The paints are made from a mixture of powdered oxides, gum arabic and

As with other forms of stained glass art, you will want to start with your
design on paper. Make sure there is some definition to your design and that the
differently colored areas are outlined in a darker color. You may tape your
design to the bottom of your glass so that it will remain in place during
painting. Begin painting the dark outlines of your design with a tracer or
rigger (long brush with a slender point). You will want your trace paint to be
dark enough to block out light and provide contrast with your lighter colors.
You must apply the outlines in long, smooth, continuous strokes. Do not try to
"go over" your lines once they have dried (which does not take long!).

If you do you will cause the paint to bubble and separate (fry) when the glass
is fired in the kiln. You should not touch the line at all once it has been
painted, although you may correct some mistakes and overages by gently scraping
the paint off with a toothpick AFTER it has dried completely. Next, your stained
glass trace paint is fired in the kiln at approximately 1150? F.

After your trace paint has been fired, you are ready to apply your shading
colors. The shading color may be dropped into a particular area of the stained
glass and then brushed or "mopped" over the entire area where that color is
desired. You may then use various brushes with different strokes or techniques
to create a stippled or otherwise textured look. Keep in mind that the color of
the shaded area will appear lighter in your finished stained glass project after
it has been fired in the kiln.

You may also wish to enhance the look of your project with silver stain. Silver
stain will be applied to the back side of your stained glass project (the
opposite side from your painting) and will actually change the color of the
glass rather than simply cover it. Silver stain can be corrosive as it contains
silver nitrate so use with caution and please use clean brushes for this portion
of the project. The effect of silver stain is a lovely yellow to amber-colored
hue to the stained glass and provides a lovely background to your stained glass

Your skill and technique in painting stained glass will improve over time, as
with any new endeavor. Be patient and allow yourself to enjoy the process.
Painting stained glass can be a rewarding hobby and with a little practice you
may even create a masterpiece someday!

Stained Glass Lead Came Technique

The lead came method of stained glass construction gives an appearance of
uniform lines and an antique look. The lead channel is wrapped around the glass
and then joined at the "seams" or joints by a bead of solder.

Lead came, used for joining pieces of stained glass, comes in one channel,
called "U came," or two channel, "H came," strips about six feet long. "U" lead
strips are used to frame the outside edges of stained glass, especially on small
suncatchers or ornaments with only two or three glass pieces. In larger stained
glass projects, the "H" lead strips are used to join two pieces of glass
together, placed inside the grooves.

Stretching the lead strips before fitting it around the stained glass makes the
lead more rigid and stronger. Some lead is pre-stretched, but might have
acquired some kinks or bends in packaging, so you may want to stretch it a
little to get the kinks out. Do not over-stretch as it will narrow the grooves
in the channel, making it too narrow to fit around the stained glass. Lead that
is stretched too much will break.

The lead is soft enough that after fitting it on the stained glass and making
sure that you have good connections, you can easily cut it with lead nippers, a
lead knife or even scissors. Be careful to make sure the joints you have cut
butt so that it will be strong throughout the stained glass piece. Filling gaps
between the joints takes a lot of solder and makes the joints look sloppy and

Your stained glass work will be laid on a pine board, beginning at two strips
of wood nailed at right angles to each other. These wood strips will act as a
support for your project. Your alternating pieces of lead and stained glass
will be temporarily held in place by horseshoe nails as you progress across
your stained glass pattern.

Each piece of stained glass and the lead strip around it has to fit within the
pattern lines before you move on to the next piece. If one piece is too large
and crosses over the pattern line, then every other piece will be off and your
entire stained glass piece will be off.

Before you begin soldering the lead joints on your stained glass project, you
should practice on some scrap pieces of lead first. Lead melts so you want to
check your soldering iron's temperature on the lead scraps first. If it is too
hot, a rheostat can lower the temperature enough to prevent unwanted melting of
the lead. A 40 watt soldering iron is hot enough.

Before you solder the lead joints, prepare the metal with flux, then move your
soldering iron tip quickly over the lead, creating a pool of the 60/40 solder.
The pool of lead should smoothly flow over the seams and lie flat. It is not
necessary to raise a big ball of solder at the joints.

Solder all joints on both sides of your stained glass panel. Clean the flux
away with warm, soapy water. Reinforce the stained glass panel by forcing a
glazing compound or putty into the lead channels. Clean away all excess putty
with whiting or sawdust, and then a soft cloth.

Another method of joining stained glass, created by Louis C. Tiffany, is the
copper foil method of stained glass construction. The glass crafter can choose
which method he/she prefers based on each individual stained glass project.
Both methods of stained glass construction generally work equally well.

Stained Glass Copper Foil Technique

Copper foil is a stained glass leading technique that has a more delicate or
intricate look to it than the lead came technique. Louis C. Tiffany created the
copper foil technique in the early 1900's. Tiffany didn't have the
adhesive-backed copper foil that we have today. When he built his copper foil
stained glass projects, he painstakingly cut the copper strips and applied wax
to them to secure it to the stained glass.

Copper foil is often used for decorative glass boxes, stained glass lamps, and
other stained glass projects with intricate curves. The copper foil is flexible
and when the solder bead is applied correctly, it is strong enough for just
about any stained glass project.

Deciding whether to use copper foil or lead came on a project is mostly a
personal choice; yet, some areas may have building restrictions or codes that
you might want to check. Some people believe that the copper foil method of
stained glass construction is not strong enough for large stained glass windows.

There are methods of reinforcing stained glass windows whether they are
constructed by the copper foil method or the came method. Rebar is used to
reinforce large stained glass windows. There is a copper flat wire called
"Strong Line" that is also used as reinforcement by placing it between the
pieces of stained glass before soldering.

The copper color of Tiffany's thin strips of copper for his stained glass
window construction would have shown in, for instance, clear glass. Today's
copper foil comes in various backing colors like copper, black, silver and
brass. This gives the stained glass artisan choices of backing that will show
up less through clear glass; and for instance, if you use silver backing on
white stained glass, there will not be a line of shadow on the white stained
glass near the solder lines.

Also, if you plan to leave the solder lines silver and not use a patina to
color the solder, then silver back will look better wherever there is clear
glass. The same works for using a copper patina on the lead; you would want
copper backed foil on your stained glass. Black-backed foil would look best on
that clear glass if you are using black patina.

Copper foil tape is a "dead soft copper" which, when burnished onto the stained
glass, sticks closely to the glass. It comes in various widths with popular
sizes being: 1/8", 3/16", 1/4", 7/32" 3/8" and 1/2". Most copper foil tapes are
in 36 yard rolls.

When working with larger stained glass projects, 3-dimensional articles or
windows, a wider copper foil like 3/8" or 1/2" will be stronger. Thicker
stained glass requires a wider tape. When you are doing very intricate or
delicate stained glass work, you might prefer to use the narrower 3/16" copper
foil tape.

When you wrap stained glass in copper foil tape, be sure that the edges of the
glass are ground and then cleaned very well; otherwise, the foil will not stick
to the stained glass. Wrapping the glass edges carefully and being sure equal
amounts of foil are folded up onto either side of the stained glass will ensure
a smooth, even solder line. Be sure to rub or burnish the foil until it is
smooth and secure.

Copper foil for stained glass construction is available through wholesale
distributors all over the world. A very popular and reliable copper foil is
manufactured by Edco Supply Corporation in Brooklyn, New York. Stained glass
retail stores, craft stores, and online stores carry copper foil for stained

Stained Glass Artisan, Louis C. Tiffany

Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) is associated with Art Nouveau style stained
glass lamps and windows. He was nicknamed "Rebel in Glass" because he ventured
into many avenues of art glass. He founded Tiffany and Company soon after the
Civil War and employed several artists to carry out his artistic ideas.

Tiffany had studied painting in Paris and when he returned home, he studied
Medieval techniques in glassmaking. From his experimentation of many techniques
of glassmaking, he came up with his beautiful "drapery" stained glass which he
used to represent the folds and ripples in the robes and gowns of figures in
his stained glass windows.

Tiffany's first figure stained glass window was built in 1878 using opalescent
glass from the Heidt glasshouse. He made his first glass tiles at Heidt glass
house, his factory in Brooklyn. Tiffany's stained glass designs were unique and
constructed with an aim for stability so that they would last and be enjoyed for

Much of Tiffany's work no longer exists. Without a thought, people threw away
Tifffany stained glass lampshades; and, church and cathedral stained glass
windows have been destroyed over time. Some of Tiffany's stained glass lamp
shades, when found, are now valued up to tens of thousands of dollars or more.

Tiffany's stained glass products were not intended to be mass produced but,
rather, were created for individuals or church memorial gifts. Probably only
less than half of Tiffany's stained glass products are still in existence.
Those are mostly already in museums or are kept by prominent collectors. So, it
is unlikely for you to accidentally run across a Tiffany stained glass lampshade
or stained glass window panel that will make you wealthy.

Tiffany was an avid painter who painted all his life. His painting ability was
very useful to him in designing his significant stained glass windows. His
"cartoons" were not merely patterns on paper, but often they were full-size oil
paintings on canvas. For Tiffany, stained glass windows were simply another form
of painting.

Interestingly, Tiffany's stained glass windows for public buildings were
signed, but stained glass windows he built for individual homes were not
signed. He thought the families who lived in the homes would be able to
attribute to the fact that he or his company had made their stained glass
windows. This has caused problems proving stained glass windows were his.

One of Tiffany's better known designs was the Wisteria Table Lamp (c. 1900) of
which many reproductions have been made. The beautiful stained glass lamp shade
is a resemblance of a vine, leaves, and wisteria blossoms dripping all over in
beautiful colors.

Tiffany's stained glass works can be seen in various places. One such place is
the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art at Rollins College in Winter
Park, Florida where the interior of the chapel Tiffany designed is assembled.
It had been designed for the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. After
the exposition, it had been stored in Tiffany's mansion until the mansion
burned down. The chapel parts and all its stained glass windows were salvaged
and rebuilt in the museum at Rollins College.

There are several of Tiffany's stained glass windows in New Jersey. Stained
glass windows at Saint James Church in Fordham, Bronx, New York represent some
of Tiffany's best work from the late 19th century through 1929. Other Tiffany
stained glass works can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York,

Many references to locations where Tiffany's stained glass windows and other
art can be seen can be found online.

Sandblasting Stained Glass

Stained glass is actually an incorrect name for a type of art encompassing many
different ways of decorating glass for windows, mirrors, lamps or other
projects. Stained glass may be made from many pieces of colored glass cut into
a design and soldered together with lead or copper cames (metal strips), it may
be painted, etched, actually stained with various metal oxides or even
sandblasted. Sandblasting is a fascinating way to add texture and interest to
your stained glass art project. Rather than adding colored, sandblasting gives
a unique frosted or abraded look. This can be used as a decorative "frame" for
your stained glass project before painting and setting it in the kiln, or you
can create the entire design through sandblasting alone.

Sandblasting equipment can be quite expensive, so you will most likely want to
borrow or rent the equipment. You may also consider paying a professional to
sandblast your prepared design. Be prepared to make several phone calls and be
clear about what you would like to have done. You will likely be charged a set
fee per square foot of the stained glass project.

There are four basic elements to the sandblasting unit. The sandblasting unit
works with an air compressor that acts as the motor of the unit and provides
compressed air to the sand mixing unit. This highly pressurized sand is then
forced through a soft tube into a sealed compartment where it is forced through
a nozzle. You will do the sandblasting through a set of long rubber gloves that
extend inside the unit where you can move your stained glass project around and
control the nozzle during sandblasting.

You will want to create your pattern on a special type of removable backed
adhesive paper called "transparent resist". You may also try regular contact
paper, but it is not as sturdy or easy to work with for your stained glass
project as the resist. Draw your design on the transparent resist paper with a

Remember that the cut out portions will be the frosted design on your stained
glass project. Be create, experiment with different lines and shapes. When you
are satisfied with your design you should tape it to your cutting mat and cut
it out carefully using a craft or razor knife. Next, gently remove the paper
backing and roll the resist or contact paper unto your piece of glass smoothing
it out as you go along. Be careful not to leave any air pockets or lifted edges
where sand might get into and foil your design.

Follow the manufacturer's directions for sandblasting (if you are renting the
equipment, otherwise drop it off to the studio and wait for the dramatic
results). Carefully peal off the transparent resist and viola, a beautiful
piece of stained glass art! You are now ready to use stained glass paint and
fire the piece in a kiln if that is what your design calls for; otherwise your
stained glass project is ready for framing or hanging.

Stained glass artwork is a satisfying hobby that not only provides hours of
enjoyment, but also creates attractive accents for your home, or gifts for
family or friends that will bring pleasure for many years to come.

Painting Stained Glass -- Not as Mysterious as it Seems

You may have mastered stained glass construction, but stained glass painting
seems like a mystery and looks difficult. Most stained glass crafters know
little about the process and the materials needed for painting stained glass;
but it should be just another step in the whole process of creating beautiful
stained glass windows.

Some people have a misconception that stained glass is clear glass that has
been painted to a desired color. Actually, stained glass is colored while it is
still in its molten form by adding metal oxides. Painted stained glass is
already colored and has had a design painted on it.

Painting on stained glass is done to add humanistic details of the face, hands,
feet, or shading of the body and hair. Painting reduces the amount of cutting
and leading of many tiny pieces of stained glass. Painting enhances the beauty,
textures, and color that are already in the stained glass.

You don't have to be a talented "artist" in order to paint on stained glass
windows; although, a little drawing experience and some knowledge of
perspective and the human anatomy can be helpful. If you can find classes on
stained glass painting, it always helps to learn from someone who has already
learned what works and doesn't work. If you cannot find classes, look for
information online, on related online forums and in instructional books at
craft stores, stained glass shops, or in your local library.

You can spend as little or as much as you want on stained glass painting tools
and supplies. You can get started for as little as $20 to $100. You can save
money by making some of your own stained glass painting equipment. Suppliers
for stained glass paints and tools can be found by searching on the internet
and at craft and supply stores. Be careful of the paints you choose because the
paints for stained glass painting are specific.

Stained glass paint is a high-fired permanent paint which actually has glass
(called the vehicle) in it. Stained glass paint also contains lead and has
coloring agents like sand, alumina, clay, red or white lead oxide, boric acid,
potassium and sodium. The lead in the stained glass paint refracts light. The
matt (paint) can be applied, taken out in the tracing, fired, and then applied
again, depending on the lighting, detail, and textures you want to achieve in
your stained glass painting.

A few good brushes, spatulas, a small easel with a thick-plated glass surface,
a light box and an inexpensive small, electric kiln would be a good start on
supplies needed to do stained glass painting. In order to save money, you could
build your own easel and light box and purchase a used kiln from ads in stained
glass magazines or online. You can also make your own mahl sticks and bridges
which are wooden supports for your hand and arm for helping with paint stroke

Your work area does not have to be large. It could be an area set aside in your
stained glass workshop with a good source of natural light from a window. You
need plenty of storage including a palette box for storing the color palettes
you make.

You will need squares and rectangles of scrap clear glass, ground and rounded
on the edges to prevent cutting yourself. These scraps will be for practicing
your stained glass painting and tracing technique.

Armed with the knowledge you gain from sources and practice, you will find that
there really is no mystery to stained glass painting.

Mastering Difficult Stained Glass Cuts

You're getting pretty good at the basics of scoring and breaking stained glass,
but you've run into some problems with difficult cuts that seem impossible.
There are techniques that will make difficult cuts in stained glass seem like
cutting butter.

Scoring disturbs the molecules in stained glass, so you want to separate it
immediately after scoring.

- Narrow Strips: A straight strip that is scored less than an inch away from
the edge of the stained glass, it will be difficult to pull it apart with your
hands. Use running pliers and align the bump in the pliers head on the score
line and squeeze. This causes the score to run and break apart

- Straight Lines: When cutting straight lines on larger pieces, you can line up
the score line along a table edge. Hold one side firmly on the table while using
your other hand to pull down and away, snapping the pieces of the stained glass

- Small Squares: If you have several squares of stained glass to cut, use a
straight edge to measure the width, run your score line, then break the strip
away using running pliers, breaking pliers, or your hands.

After you have your stained glass strip, measure and score across the strip the
same amount as the width of the strip. You can quickly line up each score line
on the edge of your Norton board and, one at a time, push down and snap off the
small square stained glass pieces.

- Curves: If you are scoring clear stained glass, you can lay your glass on top
of your pattern, smooth side up. Cut your stained glass down to just a little
bigger than the piece which your are cutting -- about 1/2 inch extra all the
way around the piece.

Score all the way around the piece, just inside the black line of your pattern.
Next, score several diverging lines from the pattern line to the edge of the
stained glass. Break away pieces a little at a time. Never try to break away
too large of a piece of stained glass because it will shatter.

- Circles: You can cut a nearly perfect circle out of stained glass by using a
similar process as for curves. Score all the way around the circle, just inside
the black line and then score several lines from the circle to the outside edge
of the glass. Start breaking away small sections of the stained glass

- Concave Curves -- Concave curves are difficult to break out of stained glass,
especially if they are deep. Again, you will start by scoring just inside the
black line of the pattern on the smooth side of the stained glass. From that
inside line, gradually add several more similar cuts until you are on the outer
edge of the highest ends of the curve. Use the ball end of a pencil cutter to
gently tap runs into the scores; then break away one piece at a time from the
outside, in. Sometimes it helps to rock each end of the score back and forth
before pulling apart the curved stained glass pieces.

- V-cuts: V-cuts are next to impossible unless you happen to have a special
band saw for cutting stained glass. Otherwise, a v-cut like you would have in a
heart shape should be redesigned so it has a softer curve instead of a point.

Don't be discouraged if once in a while the natural tendency is for the stained
glass to just go ahead and break straight across.

John La Farge, American Stained Glass Artist

American stained glass artist, John La Farge was born in New York City on March
31, 1835 to french immigrant parents. Upon completion of his formal education in
law he ventured to Europe to study art. After his return to the United States he
made a brief attempt at practicing law, but soon gave it up to follow his
passion for artistic expression. Initially, he painted landscapes later moving
on to figures and stills and eventually caught a break doing drawings for a
magazine. His first prominent assignment, however, was in 1876 when he was
commissioned to handle the decor for the entire interior of the Trinity Church
in Boston.

That accomplishment represents a milestone in American art as it was the first
real mural painted here. Many art historians consider his painting on the end
wall above the altar in the Church of the Ascension in New York his greatest

He became intrigued with glass making after becoming aware of certain
inadequacies in the industry which limited the ability of an artist to create
brilliant designs with varying transparencies without losing the polished
finish. He then developed techniques in overlays (plating) and opalescent glass
which has come to be known as American Stained Glass. Initially he used these
new methods on privately owned homes despite the fact he had previously
designed the old style stained glass window for the Trinity Church. The "Battle
Window" in Memorial Hall at Harvard University, commissioned to commemorate
Harvard's Civil War dead, is considered to be one of his most significant works
in stained glass. Other notable stained glass achievements include Watson
Memorial in Trinity Church, Buffalo and the Church of the Ascension, New York.

While his leading competitor in the business, namely Louis C. Tiffany, chose to
employ a staff and develop a factory, John continued to do his projects one at a
time and mainly by himself. He began to perfect a technique of making jewel-like
flower panels which were installed in the mansions of many of the wealthiest
members of turn-of-the-century American aristocrats such as Cornelius
Vanderbilt. La Farge is believed to have created several thousand stained glass
windows over the course of his career some of grand and immense artistic and
historical importance and others just a minute decorative touch in a private
home. His last work of the jewel-like flower type is said to have been "The
Peacock" which was purchased by the Worcester Museum.

La Farge won many awards including one from the Legion of Honor, which was
given him for the stained glass window exhibited at the French Exposition in
1889. He was awarded a gold medal at the Pan -- American Exposition at Buffalo
in 1901 and three years later in St. Louis he was awarded a diploma and medal
of honor for distinguished service in art. He was the initiatory recipient of
the Medal of Honor from the Architectural League of New York's. He was elected
an Associate of the National Academy of Design in 1863 and became a full
fledged Academician in 1869.

He presided as president of the Society of American Artists among other notable
achievements before his death in 1910. La Farge will long be remembered for his
contributions to American art and most especially his innovations and artistic
expression in stained glass.

How to Repair Your Stained Glass Window

If you have some experience in stained glass handi-crafts repairing your old or
damaged stained glass window is a project you may consider doing yourself. This
article assumes you have at least some experience in this craft. If your window
is very valuable, if you do not have any experience in stained glass window
making or if you lack confidence in your abilities this is a task you may want
to leave to the professionals. Otherwise, the process is very much like
creating a new stained glass window and even a little easier in the sense that
you do not have to do much, if any, glass cutting.

Problem #1: The leaded stained glass window cames are around seventy years old
(or older) and have become brittle causing bulging or breaking.

This usually begins to happen in a stained glass window over seventy years old.
Lead does not rot or rust, but it does lose its elasticity and become brittle
over time. If left unattended it may cause the stained glass pieces to fall out
or break as well.

The Solution:

Re-leading the window. This is time consuming, but very worthwhile to restore
your stained glass window to its original beauty and integrity. The following
steps must be taken:

1. Take a photograph of the window and measure lead cames to help with
reconstructing it later.

2. Take the panel out of the window frame and remove panel framing.

3. Next, you will need to take the entire panel apart using the soldering iron
to loosen solder and gently pry the old cames from the glass pieces.

4. Dispose of old lead in an environmentally friendly way, you should probably
take it to a metal recycling facility.

5. Next each piece of glass should be thoroughly cleaned and dried. Lay the
pieces in place so as not to become confused later.

6. Reassemble panel using with new lead cames in the same width as the original.

7. Broken stained glass pieces should be traced and matched as closely as
possible to a new piece of glass cut with the pattern you create. Another
option if you have all the broken pieces and either cannot match the stained
glass closely enough or do not want to put new pieces in, is to use thin lead
cames to hold the broken pieces together. This option will likely make it
obvious that the window has been repaired, so use with care.

8. New cement should be applied to both sides

9. New reinforcement bars should now be attached.

10. The stained glass panel is now ready to be re-framed and re-hung.

This process should be done when the window is nearing seventy years old.
Following the steps above should result in a complete restoration of your
stained glass window and it should be as structurally sound as a brand new one.

Problem #2: One stained glass panel in a window less than 70-years-old is

The Solution:

This will depend on the location of the broken piece. If it is near the outer
edge, you may be able to get away with carefully breaking the damaged piece out
of the frame and using the soldering iron to loosen the lead cames and then
re-soldering the new piece in place as in #7 above. If the broken piece is in a
difficult location or if there are several broken pieces, you may want to
re-lead the entire window following the above instructions. If there is a small
crack, you might consider using a glass repair kit from the automotive shop.
These are used to fix small chips and cracks in windshields and if the damage
is slight, may be a suitable way to repair the crack and prevent further damage.

There are a number of other small repairs that you can do yourself such as
re-painting areas that have flaked off, but these will need to be removed and
re-kilned and you may want to consult with a professional for help with that.
Restoring your stained glass window may be a painstaking process, but it is
worth it to preserve its original beauty and make it last for future

How to Properly Solder Your Stained Glass

Since stained glass making is such a fine art much attention is paid to the
type, colors and quality of glass used and/or the quality of the paint used on
the glass. The soldering iron, while absolutely crucial to the outcome of the
project is often given little or no consideration and attempts to use one
borrowed from a friend or found in the tool bin in the garage are often made.
The right soldering iron and type of solder can make the difference in the
overall quality of the finished stained glass window or other project, however,
and should be given more attention.

Using a low wattage soldering iron as one might find handy from household
projects is a bad idea. Irons of less than 75 watts do not retain enough heat
to handle the large amounts of solder that are needed to complete your stained
glass project. When the iron loses heat from constant use, the solder suddenly
becomes sticky and slow and the joints become messy and unstable. Not only will
your stained glass project look unprofessional, it may well fall apart!

Using a soldering iron with too high a wattage can also present a problem.
Soldering irons over 200 watts will heat the solder too quickly, causing drips
and possibly burning or melting the metal cames and irrevocably damaging the
stained glass project. Turning the iron off periodically may help this problem,
but all too often one forgets to turn it back on and is left with a cold iron or
the same problems as using the too low wattage iron with slow, sticky solder.

The ideal soldering iron would have a temperature control keeping it at a
constant level between 100 and 200 watts. It would also have an iron coated or
plated tip to make it long lasting and easy to use. The tip should measure
about 1/4 inch and be comparable to a flat tip screw-driver in shape. You
should replace the tip often to keep your projects flowing smoothly and to help
keep your joints neat and clean.

The first step in soldering your stained glass project is to heat up the
soldering iron. Once it is heated it is important to clean the tip to remove
impurities either by wiping it on a damp rag or sal ammoniac (a naturally
occurring mineral that reacts with the heat of the soldering iron to clean
residue when the tip of the iron is rubbed across it). Next, brush the tip of
the soldering iron with a little flux and then melt a little dab of solder onto
it. When the solder melts into a shiny liquid bead, you will know your soldering
iron is ready to use on your stained glass project. Start by soldering all of
the joints in your stained glass piece, that is any area where two pieces of
came intersect. Then you should carefully run a bead of solder along all of the
sections of came on your stained glass project.

If the solder is too sticky you should wait for the iron to heat up a little
more, if it is too runny your iron is too hot. You want to be careful to ensure
a smooth finished look, but do not worry about the heat of the iron cracking the
glass since stained glass is kiln fired at temperatures about 1000? F, there is
little chance of that! Soldering your stained glass project well will give it a
more professional look and ensure that it will last for many generations to come.

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