Thursday, October 25, 2012

Stained Glass Tutorial #1 - Beginners Basic

You do not need to take a class to learn how to make stained glass so before you shell out hundreds of dollars for supplies and a class read this. I will be honest about the knowledge I have learned over the past 18 years. There will be video tutorials that cover glass cutting, copper foil, soldering, and assembly.

Some things to think about
- Stained glass is difficult. Not everyone will be able to cut glass properly or run a break.
- You will cut and burn yourself nearly every time you make something.
- You need space and ventilation. You will use flux and need an exhaust fan or open window.
- You need a light table. (Not in the beginning while learning to cut but you will need someone to make one for you.)
- Safety is essential. Tiny pieces of glass fly up into your face all the time. You have to be aware of the risks and take proper precautions.

If all of the above sounds o.k. with you then proceed.

To Begin

Cutting glass is the most important part of stained glass. You have to master this before moving forward. If you cannot cut glass all of your work will be rough edged and amateur. Sure you can grind edges down on a grinder but who wants to stand at the grinder all day.


Glass cutter - Unless you want to drive yourself nuts, you do not want to use the kind you buy at your local hardware store. The cheap cutters must be dipped in oil when you cut glass and the grip is not very comfortable. Spend $20.00 on a nice cutter with a built in oil reserve. Even if you choose not to pursue stained glass you will have a nice glass cutter for household projects.

Practice glass -
As you start to buy and cut different types of glass you will see how much variety there is between them all. Some are thin and brittle, others are thick and break unevenly, others hardly score at all.

You need to start with a glass that is easy and cheap. I suggest buying $1.00 diploma frames from the Dollar Store. The framing glass is very thin and easy to cut. You will not waste you money on expensive glass if you choose this route. Learning how to cut glass will leave you with buckets of broken glass.

Stained glass running pliers or breakers -
I sometimes use my hands to break straight lines in glass but running pliers make the job easier. Just make sure they have rubber tips on the ends. I have learned that the metal tipped pliers do not work as well. Running pliers

My second blog posting will cover cutting glass and breaking a score. I will have a video tutorial that shows my technique.

Stained Glass Medieval Moon

Available on my Etsy page, Biltmore Glassworks
Custom stained glass for Western North Carolina!