Polishing with Finishing Compound

The final stage in  copper foil stained glass creation is to polish your work of stained glass art using finishing compound. Take a look at this video to see how to do this:

Polishing your solder seams is a great way to make it gleam, and to keep it protected for years. It’s definitely worth the effort…just make sure the piece is properly cleaned before you attempt this final step. You’ll be pleased with the results!

Lead vs Zinc Border Came

Video 25 Title Cover

Should you choose lead or zinc came to frame your copper foil stained glass project? Watch this video to learn about a few varieties of lead and zinc came, and which situations are best for each type of border.

Most lead and zinc came is sold in 6-foot lengths, and is available from your local stained glass supply store.

If you choose to use lead came you will need to stretch it in order to stiffen it for use, because it is so soft. You can do this by getting two pairs of pliers and getting a friend to stretch it with you, or you can purchase a lead came vise (pictured below) which clamps onto your workbench. Put one end of the lead came in the vise and pull on the other end using a pair of pliers. Be careful doing this, as lead is so soft it can break off in the pliers and send you flying across the room!

Zinc came does not need to be stretched.

Lead Came Vise

Lead Came Vise

Setting Up Your Stained Glass Workstation

What kind of a workstation do you need when setting up to begin crafting in stained glass? Actually, you don’t need much at all. There are only two main considerations – take a look at this video to see what they are:

Do you have any thoughts about your experience setting up a stained glass workstation, or do you have any tips to share? Post comments below!


Safety Tips for Stained Glass Creation

Working with razor sharp glass, hot metal and corrosive chemicals is all part of the stained glass creation experience. Keeping your health and well-being at the forefront of your creative act is of the utmost importance each and every day you work with glass. Take a look at this video:  7 Stained Glass Safety Tips.

Tip #1: Suit Up – wear your safety goggles.

Tip #2: (Don’t) Stay Up – stay focused when working with glass. Never work when you are tired.

Tip #3:  Scrub Up – be sure to wash your hands free of any lead, glass dust or other toxins after a work session, and anytime before eating or drinking during a break.

Tip #4:  Sweep Up – keep your broom and an empty container handy, and get in the habit of keeping your work area shard-free.

Tip #5:  Stock Up – keep a well-stocked first aid kit close by for accidental cuts and burns. They will happen!

Tip #6:  Open Up – make sure you are soldering in a well-ventilated environment.

Tip #7:  Wait Up – learn to be patient during and after soldering. Remember, hot solder looks just like cold solder, and hot glass looks just like cold glass. If you aren’t sure, give it a few more minutes to cool before touching the glass.

Follow these safety tips, and you’ll be much more likely to have a long and enjoyable time working with this beautiful craft.


Putting a price on your stained glass

If you have made a few pieces of stained glass and are thinking about selling them to make a little extra money, or if you are considering turning your stained glass hobby into a part-time business, you may be wondering what price to put on your glass. This video explains a few methods (thanks to Paula from A.J Stained Glass in Toronto for teaching me this method five years ago!)

The individual piece method of costing your stained glass art takes the following into consideration:

  • Size of each individual piece (bigger glass costs more)
  • Shape of each individual piece (curves take longer to create thus should cost more)
  • Source of each individual piece (did you find the glass locally or purchase overseas?)
  • Colour of each individual piece (orange/fuchsia are pricey colours due to mineral content)
  • Other factors of each piece (hand rolled glass or specialty glass costs more)

If each piece is on the cheaper end, you may want to price is around $2. If it is on the higher end, $5 may be a good range. However, keep in mind that this is a general gauge, and depends on where you are living, as well as inflation and the price of minerals and metals at any given time.

After you’ve assessed each piece, add them up! For example, If I’ve created a stained glass panel using 50 pieces of glass, and I’ve assessed that 10 pieces are worth $2 each, 10 pieces are worth $3, and 30 pieces are worth $5 each, then I will set my panel price at (10 x $2) + (10 X $3) + (30 x $5) = $200

Don’t forget to add on the following costs as you feel necessary:

  • Time cost for design
  • Time cost for pattern creation
  • Time cost for glass creation

You may also want to add on additional costs for the following:

  • Using lead-free solder (the silver content adds to the cost)
  • Framing your piece (not all small pieces are framed)
  • Shipping (if you sell online)
  • Taxes

Finally, consider the quality of the overall piece. You may be very pleased and proud of your new creation (and so you should!) but it takes time to gain expertise in any craft or art. As you progress, you’ll be able to raise your prices, but as a beginner, be reasonable with your selling price. Don’t undervalue your time or effort, and make sure you are compensated for your materials cost, but don’t set such a high price that people are turned off from purchasing! If you use the $2 – $5 method, you’ll have a leg to stand on when people ask you why your work costs what it does.

Many people see stained glass as being pricey, but if you are able to explain the reasons behind the cost, you’ll be on your way to making your first of many sales. Congratulations!



How to Choose the Right Glass Cutter

When you are starting out in stained glass, the variety of tools and materials can be overwhelming! Where to start? Today’s post is all about how to choose the glass cutter that is right for you. Click on the video below for details:

Some of the brand names that I mentioned in the video were Toyo, Inland and FletcherStudio Pro and Glastar are also well-known as makers of stained glass tools, including cutters. (Note my error in the video: Weller is more well-known for making soldering irons, not cutters). These brands, as well as others, can be purchased at your local stained glass supply store. If you don’t have one nearby, take a look at this post on some of my favorite stained glass suppliers.

Remember – great glass cutting is all about even pressure. Start with practicing on smooth window glass, and work up to cutting textured glass once you feel good about scoring on the smooth stuff. Practice makes perfect!

Make Your Stained Glass Pattern a Work of Art

Designing your own stained glass pattern is extremely satisfying, as the end result is 100% your own creation.  It is well worth the time and effort to do so, but there are a few creative and practical things to consider when designing with stained glass.

Click the video link below to hear how to design a stained glass pattern that is a work of art!

Here are 4 tips (and 7 design principles) you can use when designing your stained glass piece:

Tip #1.   Choose a unique subject matter that you love! You want your interest in the piece to sustain you through the whole process. It’s your fuel. This might seem obvious, but it’s easy to get caught up in creating things that you think other people will like, or that seem popular. Ask yourself what you really want to create.

Tip #2.   Utilize art and design principles. Consider these 7 basic principles:

  • Line – do you like organic swirls or crisp geometry?  Consider the shape and thickness of each line. Most stained glass has a uniformity of lead line thickness, but if you are more advanced, why not play with this?
  • Negative and positive space – think about not just the line itself, but the shapes created on each side of that line.
  • Rhythm – is there an interrupted repetition of colour or shapes? Think of music.
  • Colour – consider making your piece monochromatic, or maybe using contrasting colours (like hot red-orange and icy green blue)
  • Scale – are you balancing pieces of a similar size, or using variation? Harmony or disharmony can be achieved by considering these ideas.
  • Direction – does the glass point in a certain direction? Does it feel heavy or light? Horizontal lines are the most stable, diagonal the most dramatic.
  • Contrast – apply this principle when thinking about colour, texture, shapes, and all the other principles.

Tip #3.   Consider the limitations of the glass (don’t design L-shapes as the glass will want to break along that curve. Deep curves may be difficult for a beginner to cut without breaking. Larger designs need solder lines leading to the edge of the frame for support.

Tip #4.   Assess your time and tools. Don’t design a piece that you’ll give up on because it is too difficult or time consuming – create something that you’ll actually do!

Apply these ideas and you’ll be well on your way to creating a work of art.  Happy crafting!