Stained Glass Crafts

Stained glass basics for beginners.
Try your hand at the wonderful craft of Stained glass.
Create your own Stained glass crafts, hangings, boxes, windows and much more.
Stained glass crafts make wonderful gifts and great decoration.
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Learning Stained Glass

Glass Handling Safety Tips

  • Always carry glass in a vertical position. Never pick it up or move it in a horizontal (flat) position. The correct way to pick up and carry a glass sheet is to grasp it with both hands by the top edge or, for a larger (heavier) sheet, pick it up with one hand on the top edge and the other hand supporting the weight on the bottom edge.
  • Never run your hand along a glass edge. Always release your grip to move your hand to a new position.
  • Just prior to moving a glass sheet, check it for cracks. First, check visually, then lift it slightly and tap the sheet with a finger tip and listen for a crisp ring. If you hear a dull clank, it has a crack. Do not attempt to move a cracked sheet! Get expert advice.
  • To place a sheet safely on your work bench, carry it with one hand on the top edge and the other hand on the bottom edge and place the center of the sheet against the bench edge. Then roll or hinge the glass onto the table top, and slide it on fully.


Scoring the Glass for the Stained Glass Project

   For the Beginners

  • Practice scoring and breaking
  • Use standard clear glass.
  • Try shorter length scores at first, as they are generally easier to break out.
  • Continue practicing until you get the feel for scoring and breaking.

   Technique

  • Hold the cutter in your favored (tool) hand and place the cutter wheel on the glass about 1/8" (3mm) in from the edge closest to you.
  • Now, place the thumb of your other (guide) hand behind the cutter head to prevent it from rolling back off the glass edge.
  • Now apply a firm, constant pressure straight down onto the cutter with your tool hand and push it away from you, all the way across the surface of the glass, with your guide hand.
Stained Glass Craft
  • After having made your first score, it is time to run the score. The break starts at one end and should run (follow) along the score line to the other side.

    Breaking with Hands only: Form both hands into fists and place the glass between your thumbs and index fingers with the score line between your thumbs. Your fingers should be clenched underneath the glass with knuckles touching. Hold the glass firmly at the end of the score.

    Apply a quick even "snap" pressure by pulling outward, and roll your knuckles by spreading your thumbs apart.

    With Breaker-grozer Pliers: Form one hand into a fist, placing the glass between your thumb and index finger and close to the score line.

    Position the flat jaw of the breaker-grozer pliers on the top side of the glass with the jaw 90° to the score and as close to the end of the score as possible.

    Hold the glass firmly in your hand and apply a quick, even pressure by first pulling outward, then snap down with the pliers.

Copper Foil Method

    Pattern Making:

  • First become confident with your glass scoring and breaking skills
  • Choose a novice skill level pattern for your first project. You will find thousands of stained glass designs available in books as full-size patterns, complete and ready to use.
  • Create the actual glass cutting templates and the assembly drawing. This is done quite simply by tracing two copies of the original design. Use carbon paper to trace one on standard paper and one on heavier pattern card. After tracing, number each piece to keep track of your pattern pieces.
  • The final step is to cut the pattern card into the actual templates for glass cutting. Do this using the special glass pattern shears to make an allowance between each pattern piece for the foil and solder.

Trace and Cut the Glass:

Trace one of your pattern templates onto the selected glass with a marker, remembering to transfer the code number.

Cut that glass piece out by scoring on the inside of the traced line, not down the middle. Periodically check the accuracy of your scoring by placing the pattern template back on top of the cut-out glass piece.

Continue scoring and breaking until all pieces in your project are cut out.

Assembly Jig:

If your project is square shaped build an assembly jig around the outside line of your working drawing; if your project is free-form use push pins.

Arrange all your glass pieces on the drawing inside the jig. Some pieces will require grinding to make them fit properly.

Fitting and Shaping:

Starting with a corner glass piece, compare its shape carefully with the lines on the working drawing. Mark all areas that are over the line with your marker, then take that piece to the grinder and selectively remove the extra glass.

Place the piece back into the jig, position an adjacent piece, mark the areas which are oversize, grind and replace it.

Position the next adjacent piece, mark, grind and so on until all pieces fit as accurately as possible.

Foil Wrapping:

Before starting the foil wrapping process, each piece of glass (and your hands) must be clean.
  • Pull a length of foil tape from the roll and peel back 2" (5cm) of the protective paper backing.

  • Press the sticky end of the foil firmly onto the glass edge, leaving exactly the same amount of overhang on either side.

  • Peel slightly more backing, move further along the piece and press the foil to the edge, peel more backing and press firmly as you continue around the glass perimeter.

  • When you get back to the starting point, cut or tear the foil, leaving enough length to overlap the two ends at least 1/4" (6mm). Crimp (fold) the foil down over the glass edges with your thumb and index finger by pinching and pressing toward the center. Wrap and crimp all glass pieces in the project.

  • Finally, burnish the foil tightly against the glass on both front and back sides using the rounded edge of your lathekin (fid) to ensure that the foil does not pull away from the glass. When all pieces have been foiled and burnished smooth, place them back into the assembly jig where they should be snug but not bulging.

  • Do a final quality check and make any last minute adjustments.

Dried Flowers Craft

Dried Flower Crafts

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Dough Art Crafts

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Bath Salts & More

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Stained Glass Crafts

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Christmas Crafts

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Kids Crafts

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Soldering:

All foiled joints of your stained glass piece must be completely soldered (not just at the corners) to create the metal web which will hold the project together.

Soldering begins by brushing flux on the foil seams. Now, with the hot soldering iron in one hand and solder in the other, place the iron tip directly on a foil seam and touch the solder to the top surface of the iron tip. The solder will immediately melt and coat the foil under the iron tip. Move the iron slowly along the seam, continuously adding more solder, filling gaps and covering the foil as you go.

The idea is to build up solder on the seams until it forms a rounded bead. When you have finished one side, remove the assembly jig, turn the project over and completely solder the back side.

All exposed foil must be coated with solder, including the outer edge.

Hanging Loops:

If you plan to hang your stained glass project in a window you should solder wire hanging loops (16-18 gauge uninsulated copper wire) to the top edge.

Be sure to attach them at a solder seam only, a foil-only edge will not be strong enough to hold the weight over a long period of time.

Cleaning & Antique Patina:

Thoroughly clean your project with glass cleaner & a soft rag. If you plan to "antique" the solder seams, apply the patina solution with a cotton rag immediately after cleaning.

Patina is a corrosive chemical, so please use caution, "think about safety", wear rubber gloves and carefully follow the safety instructions on the patina container and in the M.S.D.S.

More Stained Glass Tips

  • To keep your entire roll of foil from unraveling, as soon as you open the package, and before you remove the little tape that holds it together, put masking tape on it. Rip off a piece of tape, attach it to one side then wrap it around to the other (with the fold over on the inside ring).

  • To keep track of your sizes be sure and write the sizes down with a magic marker (thin), on each side of the foil, along with the inner ring.

  • Put the date of when you opened the foil too, so you'll always know about how old it is.

  • When foiling the glass, make sure the glass is completely free of dust and oils. Clean the glass with soap and water if you have to , and make sure the piece is completely dry.

  • Make sure that the glass is either ground (for better adhesion) or is at least very smooth.

  • Try not to handle the glass too much or the foil.

  • When you foil, always wrap the whole thing. Then put extra pressure on the edge first, then pinch and rub. Try to give yourself an overlap of around 1/4" to 1/2". Trying to cut the foil to make a butt joint, always leaves either a weak spot or a non-foiled spot.

  • Try to start the foil on the inside edge of the piece, so there's no chance of the foil lifting from that.

  • Warm glass is always easier to foil than cold. A heating tray works well for a bunch of small pieces. Use hot water when cleaning them, it helps break down the dirt, warms up the glass, and helps make it dry faster. An incandescent bulb also works well. Or a space heater.

  • When foiling blobs, lightly grind the blob. It's a good idea because it will allow the foil to have a better bite and it also shows you where to center the foil. Make sure to really wash the blob good before foiling. Make sure you take your time so the foil doesn't rip.

  • When foiling a real lumpy glass like drapery, ripple, antique, etc. try to use a wider foil when possible.

  • Ripple glass takes forever to foil. This is because of all the indents you have to push the foil into. When you have to rub down this kind of glass, start with the edges, then do the surface of the glass.
  • When you rub normal glass, always start with the surface. To rub down the foil, you'll need to use a stick of some sort. A pencil would be a good choice but the graphite tends to get in the way. You can buy quite a few shapes of fids (a type of rubbing stick).

  • Wear rubber gloves when soldering and patinaing. Gloves can be used when cutting glass, but they won't prevent cuts.

  • DON'T USE GLOVES TO FOIL WITH. The foil will stick to the glove, and your finger won't glide over the surface to flatten out the foil.

  • Q-Tips are very useful. They can apply just a bit of flux in a spot, or just a touch of patina, doe minor repairs; they are a quick cheap brushes for paint; they will clean up wax residue from around the solder lines; put a bit of denatured alcohol on the swab to wipe and clean excess flux after soldering chain into a box.

  • Use the real cheap stencil brushesfor patina. Stencil brushes are also good at doing a quick buff. Just clean well after using so the acid doesn't eat up the brush.

  • Use a normal cheap artist type, paint brush, for flux. And don't forget painting with paint brushes. Have a few small ones for detail work. If you wanted to make a tiny dot of paint, use the end of the brush, dip it into the paint, then carefully plop onto the glass. This will give you a tiny circle.

    A larger brush, 1-1/2” or so, is great for sweeping up glass crumbs as you work. Just a few quick swipes.

The information on this site is here to help you discover a love for the Stained Glass craft. You are encouraged to purchase one of the many books on the subject of Stained Glass and investigate the courses available through your local art society, library, or craft store.