For the longest time, stained glass crafting have adorned the churches and embellished the historical monuments. However, the aesthetic appeal of the stained glasses is not yet lost in the modern definition of art. The crafted glasses can still be a great add-on to many types of interiors including traditional and modern. While this art may seem difficult on the outset, in practice it is achievable (if not a cakewalk). Even the kids, as young as 10-year, are taught this art in many schools. Stained glass craft is easy and can be done with the help of right set of tools and some artistic bent of mind. Here is a quick overview of how basic glass crafting can be done with the help of the easily available essential tools and materials.
Once all the pieces have been cut, the sharp edges will require grinding to make them smoother. A little prudence while grinding will go a long way in making sure that the pieced don’t chip off or get damaged. To grind to accuracy, it would be a good idea to put the cut outs over the pattern again. This will ensure that the pieces fit well when they are put together. Building a frame around the grinded pieces will make sure that they don’t slip during glass foiling. The edges of the glass will now be covered by the copper foil. Foiling can be done with the hand or with the help of a table foiler. After removing the foil backing, the glass must be centred on the tape. Foil can be pressed against the glass with the help of a tongue depressor so that it adheres properly.
Designing on the glass can be easily done by tracing the contours of the image or design. A copyright free picture of the design will be needed that has to be traced on the stained glass. One can download pictures from the internet or create their own unique designs. If the design is on the paper, it should be of the same size as what is needed on the glass. If it is on the computer, the size of the image must be adjusted to fit the size of the glass. Monochrome images are better as they accent the contours and edges making them easier to trace. The copy will now be placed on the lightbox followed by another blank paper over it. The edges are traced on the blank paper and then cut out to be traced on the stained glass.
There is a wide range of tools and materials used for stained glass craft. However, a beginner needs to get started only with the few essentials. While whetting the skills with the basic tools, one may keep adding new tools to the collection. To find the right tools all at one place, it would be better to supplier who specializes in stained glass materials. Glass cutter, cutting oil, pliers, copper foil, soldering iron, solder, flux, grinder, safety glasses, safety gloves, and lightbox are some of the essential implements. While glass cutter gives the desired shape to the glass, cutting oil is used to improve the accuracy and durability of the cutter. Home pliers are no good for the glass craft; running pliers and glozer pliers are perfect for it. To hold the glass pieces together, copper foil is needed. Soldering iron of at least 75 watts power and solder with higher tin and little lead content are perfect for the job.
Once the design has been traced onto the glass, the next step would be to cut it in the desired straight lines and curves. It is important to score the glass first with the glass cutter. Scoring makes the cutting process easier and results in a better finish. Depending upon the curve and the size, the cutting methods may vary. The glass has to be cut by tracing the scored lines, but there are different techniques for straight lines and curves. For straight lines, once the line is formed, pliers can be placed in the crack and carefully squeezed to cut it. Straight pieces can also be snapped with the hands. Cutting gets a little tricky for the curved lines. Scores can be broken through with the help of the cutters. Even if the finish isn’t as expected, it can be fixed later.
Soldering could be the real test of patience. There are many things to be taken care of while soldering the stained glass; the pieces need to be tacked together, the seams need to be tinned, and the beads must be added properly. Pieces can be tacked together by applying small flux dots to the desired area and then dropping a tiny solder blob on the top. To properly tin the seams, all the seams must be fluxed. This is followed by applying flat solder amount to each seam. The copper foil must also be coated completely. Additional flux layer is added to the seams that have been tinned. A larger solder amount is melted along the seams. Soldering iron must be run back and forth so that melted solder seam can be created. Once a particular section has completely melted, the iron is lifted up for the creation of a smooth bead.
Framing gives a perfect finish to the crafted stained glass. However, it is not absolutely necessary. Primarily, there are two types of frames available – lead channel or zinc frame. Zinc framing is easier as the lead channel requires extensive soldering as described above. There are many ways to hang the glass. The easiest method is to fix the hooks in the window frame and hang the glass with the help of chains or wire.
Crafting a stained glass is an art. Crafted glass can truly enhance the appearance of a place. Stained glass crafting requires several tools and materials and special set of skills. The above outlined steps simplify the crafting process for the beginners. Once crafted, the glass can be hung on the existing window frame.