Jul 01

First Stained Glass Panel


I took a stained glass class at a local shop, and this is what I created.  I’d never done stained glass before, though always figured I’d try my hand at it some day.  I have a picture window that really cries out for a large stained glass panel. Of course I have to make it myself, so I enrolled in a class to teach me how.

I have to say, it’s not what I expected.  I knew it would take some precision, but I didn’t realize it would take that much precision.  I knew it would be dangerous, but I didn’t expect to cut myself that badly or expose myself to that much lead.  (And stained glass is very pretty, but it can also slip easily into tawdry or dated if you’re not careful.)  It requires a lot of being precise, and a lot of careful attention to detail, and not a lot of creative expression: it’s more like woodworking than painting.  So I don’t know how much of this I’m going to do.

The main trouble with working in stained glass, besides the health risks, is that it’s terribly expensive.  There are a gazillion tools that you need, and a lot more that make things much easier.  I got some of the tools from Jane, but there were still other supplies that I had to buy. If I’m going to do more, there are even more tools that I’m lacking.  I also learned that the copper foil method (I do have copper foil) is more difficult (I don’t have a grinder to make things perfect if I screw up) and more expensive (uses a lot more solder.)  The leaded came method is more forgiving, but you have to work with lead, you need tools I don’t have, and putting the putty in afterwards is terribly messy.  The design I want for my picture window is probably going to take both.

I guess the moral of this story is that if you’re ever at an art show, and you see a stained glass panel that you like, buy it. It’s probably underpriced.


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    • Sue on July 2, 2008 at 5:58 am

    Once you get comfortable with the techniques, you will find stained glass very creative. I can see how you would relate it to woodworking at this point in time. It all seems very mechanical at first. You will be able to focus on creativity as soon as you get past thinking of it as mechanical (and that will happen!).

    I have taught many artists that have turned out the most wonderful stained glass pieces. So, stick with it. I know you will be so glad that you did.

    Learn to cut accurately. That will cut down on having to reshape the pieces after you cut them, and it will practically eliminate cutting yourself.

    There are quite a few household tools and items that you can use for stained glass work. You can use an exacto knife to cut your lead. Use a carborundum stone to smooth the edges of the glass. Granted, there are certain tools you will need to purchase, so get the best ones possible. In the case of tools for stained glass, you get what you pay for.

    Go to my web site. You will find many step by step tutorials and practical tips that should help you.

    One last comment…I totally agree with the moral of your story!

    • emma on November 6, 2010 at 11:35 am

    I have to say that as a stained glass artist I am slightly offended by your comment that stained glass does not require creative expression. There are many many different techniques that can be used: painting, silver staining acid etching, sandblasting, plating etc to name but a few. There is a huge amount of beautiful, creative and expressive stained glass work around and I’m sure the creators of this work would be just as dismayed as me to hear their passion being belittled.

    • Bridget Brooks on December 16, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Hello Kater, I was researching stained glass windows for inspiration for my hallway landing. Your design caught my eye and even though I came across hundreds of beautiful examples, I kept going back to this one. I have just had this installed and I am delighted with it. It looks great. I hasten to add I never put this together myself! dont give up, you have a talent!

    Kind Regards

    • Kater on January 13, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    I’d love to take credit, but this is actually just a slight variation of the ready-available patterns from the beginner stained class I took at Tumbleweed in Mesa, AZ. Thanks anyway!

    • ehrhart on August 7, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    I’m just beginning too. I wanted to make a monogram but I like your border. Could you send me the pattern? or tell me from what book you got it from. I’d really appreciate it. Thanks

    • Kater on August 9, 2016 at 11:50 am

    I got it from the materials handed out in the class I took at Tumbleweed Stained Glass in Tempe Arizona. I adapted the border so it was more squares than the original pattern.

    • Eric on October 14, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    I recently found your site and am already a fan! Wanted to see if you would be open to test out my glass etching supplies for free in exchange for feedback. Would you be interested? Please let me know via email if possible. I will ship the supplies to you all for free with cream and stencils. Urgently, waiting for your reply. Thank you Eric

    • Kater on October 15, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    Thanks for the offer, Eric, but I gave all my glass supplies away. I’m in the process of packing up my house to move. That’s very generous, but I wouldn’t be able to use them at this time.

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