Making Stained Glass

Making stained glass can provide you with hours of satisfaction and potentially an at-home income as well!

| March/April 1981

  • 068 making stained glass 1 initial sketch
    To create a stained glass artwork, make an initial sketch, then draw a full-sized pattern on graph paper.
    SUSAN COBB ZENNI
  • 068 making stained glass - finished piece
    The completed panel will brighten any window in your home or make a cherished gift for a friend. What's more, with experience you may find that making stained glass can turn into a full-fledged home business!
    PHOTO: SUSAN COBB ZENNI
  • 068 making stained glass 3 assembled and braced
    When the entire sun-catcher is assembled and braced with farrier's nails you're ready to word.
    SUSAN COBB ZENNI
  • 068 making stained glass 4 soldering
    Solder the pieces together. Note the distinctive cross and "V" solder junctions.
    SUSAN COBB ZENNI
  • 068 making stained glass 2 numbered segments
    Once you've cut and numbered the glass segments, start at the lower left corner and — "fanning" out from that spot — set your pieces and lead strips in place. The lead ends will have to be cut at varying angles to insure smooth-fitting joints. You may also need to trim some panes' edges to help them slip into their "holders."
    SUSAN COBB ZENNI
  • 068 making stained glass - FIG 1
    Never draw a "lead line" (one that indicates the position of the lead that will hold your shards together) that stops in space. All such lines must be connected to other lead lines.  
    SUSAN COBB ZENNI
  • 068 making stained glass - FIG 3
    Always divide any large pieces of background glass into small shapes. Avoid having tight curves that jut into such shapes.
    SUSAN COBB ZENNI
  • 068 making stained glass - FIG 2
    FIG 2: Never design a right or acute angle without adding at least one lead line from the "point" of the angle.
    SUSAN COBB ZENNI
  • 068 making stained glass - FIG 5
    The "H" shape has a channel on each side that serves as a common border when two pieces of glass meet. The "U" shape is used around the outer edges of the piece.
    SUSAN COBB ZENNI
  • 068 making stained glass - FIG 4
    Dip your glass cutter in some light oil or turpentine, set the scoring wheel close to the edge of the glass, press down firmly, and push it away from you across the glass surface.
    SUSAN COBB ZENNI

  • 068 making stained glass 1 initial sketch
  • 068 making stained glass - finished piece
  • 068 making stained glass 3 assembled and braced
  • 068 making stained glass 4 soldering
  • 068 making stained glass 2 numbered segments
  • 068 making stained glass - FIG 1
  • 068 making stained glass - FIG 3
  • 068 making stained glass - FIG 2
  • 068 making stained glass - FIG 5
  • 068 making stained glass - FIG 4

Six years ago, when I bought my first glass cutter, I had little idea that an interest in working with stained glass would eventually allow me to escape the drudgery of the 9-to-5 lifestyle and go into business for myself!

However, I soon discovered that making stained glass items is one of the most rewarding crafts imaginable, and later selling them one of the most profitable. And anyone who has a little patience and determination to spare can learn the basic techniques very quickly.

Getting Started

The first thing you'll want to do is find a roomy work area. The best bet will probably be a table or bench in an unused part of the garage, den, porch, or extra bedroom. A sheet of 3/4" plywood, set on two sawhorses, will serve as an ideal workbench that provides plenty of space and can be rapidly disassembled if necessary.

If you have small children in your family, you'll have to make a special effort to keep your work area off-limits to curious fingers because broken glass pieces and strips of lead are extremely hazardous. So be sure the space you decide to use for your sun-catching art is situated away from your home's regular traffic patterns.



Making Designs

Once your crafts area is arranged, you can start right in and work up a design for your "window art." There are many pattern books on the market (which contain black-and-white line drawings), but most of their designs are too complicated for a beginning effort ... so you may want to plan your first piece yourself. If you stick with simple shapes, straight lines, and/or gentle curves — and limit the size of the project (keep both dimensions between 10 and 18 inches) and the number of glass parts (15 to 25 pieces) — you should have little difficulty.

To begin, draw your design on graph paper to keep it square and in proportion. As a rule of thumb, the shapes in the pattern should comply with the following guidelines: [1] Never draw a "lead line" (one that indicates the position of the lead that will hold your shards together) that stops in space. All such lines must be connected to other lead lines. [2] Never design a right or acute angle without adding at least one lead line from the "point" of the angle. [3] Always divide any large pieces of background glass into small shapes, and avoid having tight curves that jut into such shapes.






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