So often I have people ask me:

"How Do You Make It?!"

Look at all these beautiful sheets of glass!

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Stained glass is a very traditional art form that has been practiced for hundreds of years.

There are two main traditional methods: Leaded or Tiffany.

Both methods utilize sheets of coloured glass, and metal to hold the glass pieces together.

 

Leaded panels use strips of soft lead that have a channel for the glass to slide into. In Tiffany style, a tin-lead blend of solder is melted over the seams between glass pieces.


I primarily work using the Tiffany method, also known as the copper foil method.

Sheets of coloured glass are manufactured by specialty companies: there are opaque or transparent options, textured or smooth, swirled multi-coloured, or single solid colours, in almost any colour imaginable! It is an art form unto itself.

Creating each piece is a very time consuming process

1. Design the pattern​​: No copying! I use Procreate to draw my original patterns. Many artists use pencil and paper.

2. Choose the glass

3. Trace pattern onto the glass: using a Sharpie, or for more intricate curves I will glue a paper pattern directly onto the glass.

4. Cut the glass: technically speaking, I score a tiny line onto the glass, then break it along that line. I use a "cutter" and breaking pliers. Glass prefers to break in straight lines, so curves are tough, and right angles are impossible unless you have an electric glass saw. I do all my cuts by hand.

5. Grind: each piece must fit EXACTLY. An electric grinder smooths the very sharp edges, and perfects the size and shape.

6. Copper Foil: metal (solder) doesn't stick to glass, so each piece must be wrapped with copper foil along the edges. 

7. Solder: using a soldering iron, the metal is melted along the copper foil between each piece of glass, creating a beautiful round beaded seam.

8. Patina: the solder lines can be left silver, but most often a chemical called patina is applied, which reacts with the metal to turn it black (or occasionally copper patina is used).

9. Wax & Polish: the piece will have been washed many times by this point, but the final wax will remove any lingering debris, and polish the glass and metal to a glossy, gorgeous shine.

10. Add wire, chain, or cord: tiny rings are added during the soldering step. Once finished, I attach strong wire to the rings so the piece can be hung. Sometimes a glass piece will be framed or displayed in another way.

Bonus Step: for some pieces I create more detail by using glass paint. I will paint the piece before copper foiling, let cure for 24 hours, then bake to permanently set the paint.

With all of these steps, even the most simple piece will take about 3 hours to make! My more detailed pieces can take 6+ hours from start to finish. Phew!

See the process in action!

If you like videos, click to play.


This two minute video shows most of the steps that go into a typical stained glass piece. This one took me about 5 hours to make.  Enjoy!

There are 10 necessary steps 

plus cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning