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Tips on Creating DIY Stained Glass Projects for the Beginner

By Edited Oct 26, 2016 1 2

Creations from Glass

Stained glass is a wonderful creative hobby for people of all ages.  Hundreds of people learn to create beautiful projects from stained-glass.

This is something where you can make small intricate objects or if the desire captures your imagination, you could make beautiful colored stained-glass windows, lampshades, skylights, and atriums. Alternatively, you may want to create smaller objects like sun catchers and wind chimes. These are great to sell at garage sales, flea markets or online auctions like eBay.

Husbands Recent Copper foil clock

Picture above is his Most recent Kangaroo clock that husband made

No matter which ones you decide to try, you will be making more and more as you gain more confidence. Then you can start making things like in the images I have added. Do not be fooled though, it is not a cheap hobby. The colored glass is very expensive to buy, unless you scrounge from your friends, old buildings or second-hand places wherever you can. Many older homes had louvered windows in different sizes and patterns. These are great for making a variety of items. Free stock material is always the best way to start.

With the right cutting equipment, you can use old bottles or stubbies and king brown beer bottles. Wines bottles come in a variety of colours and shapes that will bring out your creativeness.  I have seen beautiful drinking glasses made from wine bottles. Your particular creations will dictate the type you use.

Stained Glass: This rose lamp is made with Copper foil

Stained glass cobbles

Mixed Blue Stained Glass Cobbles-8 ounces(half pound)
Amazon Price: $14.00 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 26, 2016)
These are real colorful pieces of glass to use for mosaics or smaller glass projects. Great for any type of crafts and come in a variety of shades and sizes from 1/2"to 1".

Where can I learn to do this?

If you would like to learn more, then continue reading. Many Technical Colleges have courses in lead light or stained glass. Quite often, you may find someone advertising lessons from private homes. Some glass supply businesses or clubs in your area have places where you can learn the basics.

 

Stained glass or Mosaic Tools

Basic Tools and equipment

This will vary depending on whether you wish to do the real Lead light glass made from lead.  If you wish to create copper foil objects, you will not require lead. Like every hobby, you can start with the basic equipment:

  • Glass cutter
  • Lead opener
  • Glass Braking pliers
  • Grozing pliers
  • Lead knife
  • Stanley knife
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • Work bench (not with carpet underneath because of glass splinters)
  • Quantity of glass

As you progress, you will need more tools although this would be enough to get you started.

Free stained glass patterns

In the beginning, it is cheaper to download free patterns from the internet.  There are sites that allow you to download all types of patterns, from flowers, birds, fish, and scenes in fact anything you can think of is available on the internet.  

Once you know which type of glass work you prefer to do then you can buy books from your glass supplier or you can create your own patterns from your own sketches and drawings

Children’s Books are a great source for finding all sorts of pictures. You can trace them and cut out cardboard templates, and resize the patterns on the computer if too large or small. Make sure you cut the templates to fit exactly to the shape required. Hit and miss will not work when working with glass as glass will not give or bend.

Copper art Candle light

There are many sites where you can buy glass and tools online.Delphi Glass is one of these. We have bought most of our equipment from them even though we live in Australia, as it is cheaper to import the materials like solder, and other various items than buy local.

Start with a simple project in the beginning, like this candle light which is easier to cut as all straight lines, and then work your way into more difficult projects.

Copper Foil

Studio Pro 1/4-Inch Copper Foil
Amazon Price: $8.27 $7.00 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 26, 2016)
When making stained glass projects you need to wrap this copper foil around the edge of each piece then solder all pieces together. This is a quicker and simpler way of making stained glass projects and less hazardous than handling lead.

Learning new hobbies requires practice

You also need to practice your soldering. There is a bit of an art to achieving smooth work. I have seen some in the markets that look terrible with bubbles and rough edges. Bbe careful with this as like the glass you can cut yourself on the pointy bits. Take care and produce good work, it will be a more professional finish in the end.

If you really cannot find anything, you could use the shapes in your word documents to give you something like the yacht for straight edges to practice on.

Stained glass windows look beautiful no matter where you see them. Coloured glass always attracts attention whether it is a lamp, a window, or little sun catchers. Eyes always turn to have another look especially when made in beautiful vibrant colours.

Copper foil Glass Lampshade

Glass tool kit

Great 7 pcs Glass Tool Kit: 4 Various Pliers plus 3 Glass Cutters for Glass & Stained Glass Art
Amazon Price: $70.00 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 26, 2016)
This is an ideal way to have every thing you need in one kit. Includes choice of pliers, different types of glass cutters to work with all in one package.

Start your project

Cutting glass is no different, experiment with your cutting on plain clear glass to begin with. As this is not as expensive, if it breaks or you make mistakes. As you grow in confidence then cut coloured glass, remember this glass is not cheap so do not waste it.

In the beginning, start using patterns with straight edges. Curves are more intricate although you will soon learn the art of cutting curves with practice.

Cutting Glass

Before you cut anything, wash the glass in warm soapy water, rinse and dry.

Mark out your pattern with felt pen on the smooth side. Always cut on the inside of the marked lines. We say cutting glass but in fact, we use the glass-cutter to mark or score the glass by running the cutter across the glass from the top and bring it towards you.

Once you start, do not lift the cutter off the glass and continue to the end. It is this mark where you put the pliers on, squeeze to break the glass.

Lead light and copper foil Glass projects

See how the copper foil is wrapped around the edges in the top of picture. The bottom piece has lead around the edge and shows very uneven and poor soldering. We need to practice more in the beginning to improve the work we produce.

Copper Foil Projects

Wrap the foil around each piece of glass making sure to keep it in the centre and push it down firm all the way around on the edges too.

Soldering pieces together

Heat the soldering iron. Now place the pieces together. Apply flux to all the seams. Solder pieces together evenly then turn it over and solder the other side.

Add either copper or black patina to the soldered lines. This depends which finished colour you want. Polish that off.  Now sit back and admire your handy work. 

Safety

Safety is important when working with glass. Always wear safety glasses when cutting or grinding glass. When handling any chemicals wear a mask for protection.

Warning: If you decide to make lead lighting projects, then always wash your hands when working with lead and never eat anything while handling lead as it is poisonous.

Soldering Iron

Studio Pro 100 Temperature controlled Solder Iron Includes Stand and 750 Degree Tip
Amazon Price: $57.25 $44.00 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 26, 2016)
When deciding to buy a soldering iron, choose a good one that will do the job for you. You need one that will be hot enough to heat the solder so your can create a smooth finish.
This one has a built in temperature control with iron rest. The handle is insulated to stay cool for your comfort

Stained Glass

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Comments

Apr 2, 2014 7:16am
claudslewis
I used to dabble in stained glass projects when I was in college but for some reason stopped. This guide seems easy to follow. Thumb up and shared!
Apr 4, 2014 9:08pm
shar-On
Thanks Claudslewis, yes it is time consuming and not really a cheap hobby but we love that and mosaic tiling. You can make so many different things from them.
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