Stained glass is an art form where colored glass is soldered together to form an artistic design. Stained glass technique can be used to create window panels, candle holder, lamp shades, night lamp holders, chimes, table top, doors, etc. Applications are endless and can test one’s imagination.

It is not known when the glass-making process started. Glass making technique was accidentally discovered by Egyptians while firing clay pots in the sand around 4000 years ago.

Around 1st century B.C. method of glass blowing was invented and Romans were able to make glass sheets. These glass sheets were rarely clear and hence they started experimenting to produce better glass. They added oxides of different metals to create colored glass.

Technique of stained glass was mainly used to create Church windows that depicted bible stories during 1000 AD and post that era. Over last 1000 years, technique of stained glass art has hardly changed, though the scope has widened many folds. Today, this technique is used to create different article ranging from table top to frames to lampshades.

In stained glass technique, we use colored glass and not painted glass.  There are two basic type glass and they come in wide variety of colors and surface textures. Using these 2 types, other different types of glass are created. 

  1. Cathedral Glass: Cathedral glass is clear glass that you can see through.This was most commonly used glass in cathedrals of Europe & hence the name.
  2. Opalescent Glass: Opalescent glass is a translucent glass with milky appearance. It lets in very little light. As with cathedral glass, opalescent glass comes in every color imaginable.

These 2 types of glass can be stirred together to form swirled, ribboned glass.Two colors of opalescent glass can be mixed together to form streaky glass with subtle color change and extra visual dimension.

Work Surface: work surface should be of insulating material as copper foiling is involved in stained glass art. Fiberboard is best used as a surface.
Carbide Glass cutters: Glass cutters are used to create a score line. Glass cutters need to be lubricated with oil. There are self oiling cutters available in the market or apply oil on the tip of the cutter. Mark the score line on the smooth textured surface of the glass. Apply enough pressure while marking, with too little pressure break will not follow the score line & too much pressure will spoil the cutter.
Strip-Circle cutter: It is used to cut borders, rectangles, squares, diamonds even trapezoids. Calibrated T-bar cuts strips of different width. The Circle Cutter scores perfect circles of various diameters.
Running or Grozing Pliers: Used for nibbling glass edges or breaking tricky & non straight cuts.
Glass smoothing supplies: Cut glass needs to be smoothened using an electrical glass grinder or carborundum stone, to avoid any injury. 1. Glass grinder is a machine with a diamond bit and a trey underneath the bit that contains water. There is a sponge in the back that pumps water up to the bit to keep it wet while grinding. The water keeps the dust down and keeps the glass cool so it will not fracture. 2. Carborundum stone can also be used to smooth the edge of the cut glass pieces.
Soldering Supplies: 1. Copper foil tape is wrapped around each piece of glass. Copper is used as it holds the solder and they come in different width. One side of the foil has adhesive to for it to be able to stick to the glass. 2. Burnisher is a wooden stick used to press the foil tape against the glass and create a tight bond. 3. Flux is an oil that helps Solder to hold on to the copper foil. 4. Solder is a mix of lead & tin that has very low melting point. It is used to join the copper foil wrapped glass pieces. 5. Soldering iron should be a min. of 75 watts with a large iron-clad copper bit and heavy duty to hold great deal of heat. Also, have a stand for the soldering iron to rest on especially when hot. 6. Patina is a chemical that reacts with solder to give an antique finish.
Safety: 1. Protective glasses to shield the eyes from glass chips and splattering flux or solder. 2. Face mask to protect from soldering fumes. 3. First aid kit that includes Band-Aid, tweezers to remove glass splinter, cream to treat burns, an eyewash etc….

First step in creating any stained glass article is to select a design. Select color of the glass as per the design.

Scoring the Glass: Place the desired pattern on the glass. Always score on the smooth side of the glass. Lubricate the glass cutter. Place cutter perpendicular to the glass & Score forward from one end of the glass to the other end. Apply consistent, light to medium pressure while moving cutter across the glass. The scoring sound should be mild like tearing a paper. Score only once, never correct mistake by scoring again.

Cutting the Glass: To cut the glass put fingers under the glass and thumb on the top of the glass on each side of the score and pull them apart. The glass will break along the score line. Other way is to use running plier to hold the glass on one side & then pull them apart. Please refer to for visual understanding.
Glass Smoothening: Smooth the edge of each cut glass with a carborundum stone or electric glass grinder.
Assemble all the pieces: Place all the pieces on the pattern to ensure that they fit well. If any piece doesn't fit well, reduce the size by smoothening the edges further.
Foiling the Glass pieces: Wipe the edge of the glass pieces before you foil them. Select correct thickness copper foil so that it covers the edge of the glass and sticks on both surfaces of the glass. Foiling is important process as solder will stick only to the copper foil area. Refer to this video to understand how to foil.
Soldering: Assemble all the foiled glass pieces and place them on the pattern. Heat the soldering iron, Brush the flux on the area you will first solder. Follow this link to see how to solder any pattern

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