How to make stained glass windows?
There is barely a person in the world who has never seen stained glass windows. However, there is hardly someone who knows how to make them. In this article about stained glass windows all the secrets will be revealed.
After reading the article check out our catalog of stained glass landscapes.
Make a stained glass window
It is common knowledge that stained glass masterpieces are used in many churches and cathedrals all across the globe. Especially, stained glass windows are popular in Gothic architecture, in the United States of America, in England, France and Germany as well. What is important to mention is that there are no similar stained glass art pieces in any of the religious establishments. Though depicting the same saints and ornaments, absolutely each of them is different. It is caused by the fact that each master has his own unique methods and technologies in stained glass windows making. Besides, each piece of glass itself varies not only in colour, but also in texture, transparency and complexity.
Today, we would like to tell you how masters in our workshop create stained glass windows and glass panel. Do you have any ideas and shots in the dark of the process of manufacturing? Let us see if you are right.
To begin with, the first thing we do is preparing all the instruments and the working place. Our masters stick to the idea that it should definitely be ergonomical, comfortable and clean. We believe that such easy steps before the very process of manufacturing is of a high importance. Moreover, all masters in our working room have special masterclasses, seminars or even courses in constructing field facilities and own working place. Our well-qualified specialists know how to put things where they belong on the table and in special shelves, and by doing these small steps and knowing all the lifehacks in this sphere, it becomes way easier and faster to manufacture true stained glass masterpieces.
It goes without saying that before so to say the practical part of stained glass windows making, we prepare a design of a future work of art. Or in other words, we make a sketch and have to agree on it with the ordering customer. This process takes quite a long time, as the sizes of the elements we will depict have to be extensively studied, the location of the subjects has to be thought out to the last detail. When the sketch is ready, we have to trace it onto the special pattern, which will be used a bit later, when cutting the glass pieces. We can share a useful lifehack – if you want to make it easier, mark all the small parts on the pattern.
Moving further, we are to choose the glass for the future masterpiece. As we have already mentioned above, stained glass has a huge number of differences. Some kinds of glass are matte, some are glossy. Some kinds of glass are opalescent or streaky, textured or bevelled and many many other differences.
Once the type of the needed glass is chosen, the sketch and pattern are finished, and the working place is set to rights, we can take up the ball and start the practical, as we decided to name it today, part. To make a stained glass art work we have to use the materials and instruments, such a glass cutter, a marker and a ruler. At first, masters put patterns under the glass and with the help of a marker they draw the lines according to the sketch on the glass. It is rather a monotonous procedure; however, it requires high concentration and accuracy.
After that, when your glass plates look like a colouring book, you should use a cutting pliers for glass, cut it into parts of such sizes that you can easily and comfortably work with it. Be careful, because if you stop cutting in the middle of the glass plate, it can easily break across the whole piece of the plate. Only then, you have to use a glass cutter to cut out the small details. Sometimes, there are such sketches and patterns that require even the tiny-tiny stained glass details, so it might take many hours to have all the details cut out. Or, if the lines are not even, and are curved or edgy, then they are quite problematic to cut out and one should have long hours of practice before doing this stage of stained glass windows making perfectly.
At this point, when all the glass pieces are finally cut out, the next step comes in place. From now on, the main task is to make the pieces flawlessly fit each other. Wondering how to do it? Here comes the grinding machine and the process of sharpening. Grinding machine itself is a special tool for sharpening glass details with the help of a special grinding wheel. So, let us see how it works. What our masters do, is they pick one stained glass piece, put it close to the grinding wheel, turn the machine on, and carefully slide the detail hither and thither. They keep doing it until the result is reached and every stained glass detail has a perfect size and shape. To make sure that this stage is perfectly completed, well-qualified masters put all the sharpened details on the patterns and make sure that each detail fits the other one. If it is so, then artists can move to the next step.
The next thing we do in the process of manufacturing is wrapping each stained glass piece into copper foil. This stage is very important, as the better copper foil tights the piece, the better results you will get when soldering, which is the next step. Before starting to wrap the detail, make sure that it is clean. Then, roll out as many inches of foil as needed. Hold the stained glass piece in your hand and use another hand to take a copper foil tape. Then, peel off the glued part of the tape and stick it to the detail. It is advised to start wrapping the detail into copper foil from the outer edge or the corner of it. Once the copper foil is sticked to the detail, gently press it moving it ahead and making the whole detail wrapped. It is important to do it neatly, not in a hurry. If you have wrapped the detail, but still have the certain amount of copper foil tape left, trim this bit off with a special craft knife. Now, you need to use a fid. This is a special instrument, which will help you burnish the foil. To make it appropriately, hold the stained glass wrapped detail in one hand, take a fid into your other hand a go with it over the outside edge down. You have to do it with absolutely each piece and every side of it. Besides, we have to mention that there are many types of copper foil. Before purchasing the certain kind of it, make sure that it will fit you, because copper foil tapes have different colors, widths, and lengths, which suit different kinds of glass - the wider the glass, the wider foil tape you should use. There are silver, black and brass colours of copper foil on the market. So, think in advance which kind of copper foil you should choose depending on the colour of the patina you decided to use.
As soon as you have cut the glass, sharpened the details, and wrapped them into copper foil, you are to solder all the stained glass pieces together. This is also a process of stained glass creation when to master it you have to practice a lot. Let us describe this process to you in detail, so you will understand how it works way more quickly and correctly. To begin with, you should put all the details according to the pattern you used when sharpening the glass pieces. So, on this step you have a kind of a ready picture, though the pieces of it are still separated. Just imagine that you are piecing together a jigsaw puzzle! A small advice would be to tack these pieces together with the help of small blobs of solder to prevent them from shaking and moving around. After that, you are supposed to put a bit of liquid flux on the place where the details cut across each other. Then, what you have to do is to solder the seams. As we have already stated above, this process is rather complicated and time-consuming. There are some things you should definitely know to avoid making too many mistakes, when you want to create stained glass masterpiece. For instance, you should take control of the heat and time. The thing is that if the temperature of the soldering iron is running, then you have to do the soldering as fast as possible. However, it is up to you to decide with what temperatures to work and how long it will take. Besides, it is better to keep all the tools clean and undamaged. That is why it is recommended to wipe your instrument with a wet sponge or wet cloth every time you start working on the new detail. Apart from that, you should better be careful with the flux, because if you run out of the flux during the process of soldering, then you will not be able to melt the solder. Sometimes it happens so, that after soldering all the stained glass pieces together, the masterpiece does not look like a masterpiece at all. By this we mean that the soldering itself can look like a mess. Of course, we believe that it happens, because of the lack of experience. What we can advise to you, is not to be in a hurry and not to be lazy, as you can make really good results from the very beginning simply by holding the soldering tool on the part of the detail you work and wait until the solder melts properly and looks really fantastic! Then, you have to repeat all the actions and techniques when soldering together all the glass pieces, but from the back of the work of art.
Please, tell us you did not think and hope that soldering was the last step in this long process of manufacturing stained glass windows and glass panel. Or did you?! One way or another, there are still some things to do before the masterpiece is finally ready to please eye and soul. The next stage of stained glass windows making is polishing and applying patina. To come through this process successfully, as a rule, you have to prepare your working environment. As for the supplies, in your working place there should be copper patina, a piece of soft cloth, a toothbrush (which you do not actually use for brushing your teeth, just in case), cleaning liquid, a bottle of water and some paper towels. And now, let us move closer to the process of polishing. To start with, it is of a high importance and we would even say this step is essential, and that is the cleaning of the stained glass art piece. This is really crucial if you do not want your masterpiece to look dirty and dilapidated. With the help of sponge and water, where you can add some baking soda for better results, wash the stained glass thoroughly and meticulously to get rid of the flux remained on the glass panel. Then, we advise you to start cleaning all the seams step by step, and here the toothbrush will definitely help you to achieve better results, if not the best ones. Believe us, the toothbrush really helps to clean off all the resides, even its smallest and imperceptible amounts. After that, many masters start applying patina. However, to our way of thinking, it is better to do the polishing at first. And there are some reasons for it. The polish used on this step consists of many abrasive elements, which distort the patina you apply before it, as these two components are not compossible due to their chemical behaviour. That is why, we sincerely recommend you follow our masters’ pieces of advice and first do the polishing and only after that apply patina. Here are some steps how to do the polishing properly and neatly. Put some polish liquid or spray on the piece of cloth and rub it over the whole glass panel and keep wiping the product until you achieve the results you want. Only after that, you should use a paper towel and dry the stained glass work of art by blotting it. It goes without saying that it is necessary to let the panel get dry in the air. Last, but not least, you will have to refer to wax. For this step of stained glass windows making one should use a special polishing wax. And that is it!
Though what we need to say is that sometimes some additional steps have to be taken. For instance, there are some cases when painting on the stained glass art is required according to the sketch and personal preferences of the customer. Then our artists use special paint used for drawing on stained glass. They use special paint pens and tools for making delicate thin lines when it is required. It is essential to choose the right kinds of paint you are going to use. As for the paint pens, we use really thin pens to write something, to depict the small lines, tender flowers or what just you can imagine. Speaking about the glass paint itself, we use PEBEO VITRAIL in different colours and shades.
And on this step, finally, the stained glass windows making process is utterly completed and ready to beautify your interior.
Stained glass windows in interior
Stained glass window art as well as stained glass wall art is known to be a classic décor in churches and cathedrals. However, during the last decades glass décor becomes more and more popular at homes.
We want to say that apart from stained glass pictures in windows, people also love cardinal stained glass window hanging. So, once you decided that you would like to have stained glass window art, it is important to think everything out. Before you figure out what exactly you want, time may pass and you will look through dozens of photographs of different stained glass designs and stained glass pictures. Be sure with that. When you have the huge variety of different colours, texture of glass, even the sizes, it is very easy to get lost in this so to say stained glass world.
Many problems in choosing the perfect stained glass window or stained glass panel for you arise, in case your interior is already full of various items of home décor, if your interior design is unusual and so on. Or, we would rather say not problems will arise, but you will have to make an imaginative leap and spend a long time trying to understand what will complement your home interior. Of course, our well-qualified masters and designers will help you and we always have some special ideas to suggest to anyone and to any taste.
Speaking about the cases, when the apartment or house are in the stage of construction, it is way easier to create something, that will perfectly fit the style and adorn your future walls, windows and accomplish your interior design as a whole. It happens so, because when there are still bare walls, and you are not restricted to the use of space and you have a wide range of opportunities of how to build in the masterpiece, you can come up with absolutely unpredictable designs, colours, sizes. In other words, you can go with your gut and bring into life all your wildest dreams.
We are always excited to create stained glass art for you, please, contact us via messenger or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will gladly fulfill your wishes according to your preferences! See stained glass birds on sale on our Etsy store!