How To Make Stained Glass: A DIY Method

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how to make stained glass

More often than not, people believe that stained glass panels are made by physically ‘staining’ clear glass into different colours and making patterned panels out of it. In truth, stained glass is simply the process of combining already coloured glass of various shapes into patterns of one’s choice. This means that the colour is added to the glass during its manufacturing and our task is to merely cut it into various shapes that fit into the pattern we wish to create. This DIY Method on how to make stained glass will run you through the tools and the processes of making a perfect end product. 

To begin with, you must acquire the tools and materials necessary for making stained glass. Though they are not the commonly seen tools or materials, the process of making the stained glass itself is a breeze.

Here Are a Few of the Materials Needed for Your Stained Glass Tutorial

1) Glass

how to make stained glass

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There is a wide variety of glass available and you can choose based on price, colour and degree of transparency. Regardless, glass can be categorised into two basic categories: Cathedral and Opalescent. While Cathedral glass comes in a wide variety of colours and textures, Opalescent glass is semi-opaque, with a milky appearance. 

Opalescent glass can be one solid colour but is generally a mixture of two or more colours with streaks and swirls.

2) Glass Cutter

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There are various types of glass cutters available for making stained glass. Hand-held cutters are great for better flexibility and more control over the scoring of the glass itself. A tungsten carbide wheel cutter would be an ideal choice and sometimes it also comes with an oil reservoir in its handle that makes the scoring of glass easier and smoother. 

The pencil-style cutter is great for beginners and ones that trace and cut because it provides consistent control. The pistol grip is great for cutting thick glass and it is a good choice for those who have trouble generating enough finger tension to create a decent score on the glass.

3) Cutting Oil

If you aren’t using a pistol grip glass cutter that comes with an oil reservoir, cutting oil is used to prolong the life of the glass cutter as well as improving the quality of your score on the glass.

4) Pliers

how to make stained glass

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There are two kinds of pliers used in making stained glass. The first kind, Grozer pliers, are designed for breaking glass upon scoring and nipping off little edges. The second kind, Running pliers, are designed for snapping long cuts in the glass.

5) Copper Foil

Though some stained glass works use lead came, this technique uses copper foil with adhesive on one side to hold the glass pieces together. The copper foil is what gets soldered to hold the different pieces of glass together. Copper foil comes in a variety of thicknesses to accommodate different thicknesses of glass.

6)  Soldering Iron and Solder

A 75 watts soldering iron is required and there are a variety of tips to choose from. The solder itself is a mixture of tin and lead and the ones with a higher tin content melt faster and flow better with a more silvery finish.

7) Flux

Flux is used to assist the flow of the solder between copper taped pieces. It is available in gel or liquid form.

8)  Grinder

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An electric glass grinder makes quick work of filing down the sharp edges of the glass upon cutting it. Though, if you do not want to make a big investment as a beginner, you can use a Carborundum stone to file down the sharp edges.

9)  Safety Glasses

These are to protect your eyes from the flying flecks of glass when you are cutting, grinding or filing the glass. Long sleeves are also recommended when using the electric grinder.

10)  Safety Gloves

While making stained glass, It would be better to use gloves as a beginner as the tools are also new and unfamiliar.

Now that’s done with, onto the process of making stained glass. 

For this stained glass tutorial, we will be exploring a 5 Step method to create aesthetic yet functional stained glass for your home decor 

Step 1: Creating The Pattern

how to make stained glass

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The first step while making stained glass is to have a clear idea of what you want to make. You can take inspiration from objects around you, the internet or even download simple templates of stained glass and print it out in the size of the panel you need. Be sure to simplify the edges to make it workable. 

Step 2: Tracing The Pattern Onto The Glass

Use a rich, dark, marker to trace the pattern. This can either be done with the help of a lightbox or by cutting out individual sections and labelling them by colour before tracing their outline onto the glass. 

Step 3: Scoring The Glass

Once the pattern has been traced on the glass, grab your glass cutter to begin scoring the glass. If you are using textured glass, score on the smoother side. For straight lines, use a steel ruler to make straight, crisp scores. Always try to score inwards rather than outwards for better control and accuracy. Start at the edge of the glass and score in a single moment for consistency and to ensure that the glass breaks only along the scoreline.

You can break the score by either holding it on each side and snapping it apart or by using pliers to put pressure on the scoreline.

Cutting curves is trickier than straight lines in a stained glass tutorial. Ensure that there is consistency in the scoring and keep it gentle to prevent the glass from breaking in its own direction.  While cutting deep curves, divide it into a series of shallow curves so the glass breaks easily along the curve itself.

Another method is to make a shallow curve rather than the marked deep one and grinding it to deepen the curve. 

Step 4: Grinding The Glass

how to make stained glass

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Gently take the glass sections to the grinder to file away the sharp and rough edges to ensure they all fit together. Build a frame to make sure that the glass sections lay flat and snug with each other.

Step 5: Copper Foil The Glass Pieces

how to make stained glass

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This is a time consuming but a fairly easy step. The more care you take foiling the glass pieces, the better the final soldered result. Make sure to centre the glass pieces within the width of the tape to keep it all even.

Peel off the protective backing and centre the glass against the tape. Rub the edges of the foil with a firm instrument to secure it. Overlapping the copper foil is alright, but take care to align the edges.

Also Read: DIY Tricks and Tips – How to Cut Drywall?

Step 6: Soldering While Making Stained Glass

First, apply flux to the copper foil before soldering. Next, tack the pieces in place by melting a small dot of solder on top. You can choose to tack the pieces from the backside if you wish for the front to be flush.

Now to tin the seams. This means you apply a thin, flat amount of solder to all of the seams, completely coating all of the copper foil with the flux on it.

You can choose to have a smooth, slightly rounded flow of solder at the front to create an aesthetically pleasing finish. The tin soldier is sufficient to hold the back together and well in place. 

Step 7: Finishing The Stained Glass

how to make stained glass

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The finishing of it is entirely up to you. You can choose to frame the stained glass panel to give it a completed and more structured look or you can choose to use bead soldering on the front and back for extra stability and leave the edges raw. You can solder hooks to it and hang it up or affix it on a stand.

how to make stained glass

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Make sure to clean the finished product with a mild detergent or glass cleaner and display it in a well-lit environment to fully witness its beauty.

Making stained glass is a seemingly intimidating but fairly simple process and hopefully, this tutorial will help you in making your own stained glass pieces. Stained glass is an artistic piece as they welcome natural light indoors while causing a colourful effect within the indoors. 

how to make stained glass

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how to make stained glass

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The impact created leads to a space that invites lights in varied forms. Making stained glass through this stained glass tutorial is an easy DIY thing to do. You can even invite your friends over for an engaging event by making stained glass and colouring it with various designs. 

We hope that this stained glass tutorial helps you in creating your very own art utility pieces!

For more architectural guidance and home improvement ideas, keep coming to Interiorcraze.

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