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Home » Beginner Stained Glass – at home with Ashley

Beginner Stained Glass – at home with Ashley

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Beginner Stained Glass - at home with Ashley

For years I’ve really wanted to learn stained glass. I was reading a book on it when I found a class in my area and signed up immediately! It felt like a sign that it was the time to learn. I loved the class and decided to invest in supplies and some patterns. I thought I’d give you tips on getting started as a beginner stained glass artist if you’re interested too.

beginner stained glass

Let’s start with the video that walks though my tips and a recent project. Then, I’ll dive in with more details below:

 

If the video doesn’t work here, you can watch it on YouTube here. It’d mean so much if you’d watch the video! I’m trying to get better at my video skills so I can grow my YouTube channel. If you have a few minutes to watch this and/or subscribe, I’d so appreciate it.

what is stained glass?

If you’re interested in stained glass, you probably know this. But stained glass isn’t the process of staining glass, it’s using decorative glass that is colored or painted, then cutting it to create artistic designs, often seen in windows, doors, and other architectural features.

Stained glass is called “stained” glass because the coloration is achieved through the addition of metallic salts during its manufacturing process, rather than by painting or applying colorants to the surface of the glass. So it’s actually a chemical reaction that happens to the glass!

For centuries, stained glass has been used in the decoration of churches, cathedrals, and other religious buildings, where it’s often featured in elaborate windows depicting religious scenes or figures. However, stained glass is also used in secular architecture and can be found in homes, museums, and other public buildings. I have some through my house!

Why do people like stained glass? It adds decorative beauty and also it manipulates light, casting vibrant colors and patterns into the spaces where it’s installed, and adding a sense of warmth and ambiance to the environment. Stained glass is usually a custom feature in a building so that also adds to it’s allure.

Stained glass holds a lot of value because the supplies are expensive to buy and it takes skill to use them. I’ll go over supplies shortly, but just know that this isn’t a cheap hoppy. Plan to spend between $300-$400 to get started.

finding classes near you

Finding a stained glass class near you can be done through a few ways:

  1. Search Online: Start by searching online. You can use search terms like “stained glass classes near me” or “stained glass workshops [your location].” This should provide you with a list of nearby options.
  2. Art and Craft Stores: Check with local art supply stores or craft stores in your area. Many of these stores offer classes or workshops, and they might have information on stained glass classes or know of local artisans who teach them.
  3. Community Centers and Colleges: Look into community centers, community colleges, or adult education programs in your area. They often offer a variety of classes, including those related to arts and crafts like stained glass.
  4. Art Galleries and Studios: Art galleries or studios in your area might host stained glass workshops or know of local artists who offer classes. Reach out to them or check their websites for any upcoming events or classes.
  5. Social Media and Online Forums: Utilize social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or specialized forums related to arts and crafts. Join local community groups or forums where people often share information about classes, workshops, and events.
  6. Word of Mouth: Ask friends, family, or colleagues if they know of any stained glass classes or if they have any recommendations based on their experiences.
  7. Online Class Platforms: Explore online class platforms like Udemy, Skillshare, or even YouTube for virtual stained glass classes. While not in-person, these platforms often offer comprehensive tutorials and courses that you can follow at your own pace. Here’s a link to my favorite stained glass person to follow on YouTube.

Last year I really wanted to take an in-person stained glass. The closest one I could find is 45 minutes away. Which seems too far. Then, in January, I was on Facebook Marketplace looking for furniture to buy (lol), and saw a piece of stained glass for sale. I clicked on it and it had a link to a stained glass class in my city! So that’s how I found my class.

stained glass patterns

There are several places where you can find stained glass patterns:

  1. Online Websites: There are numerous websites dedicated to stained glass patterns. Websites like Delphi Glass and Glass Patterns Quarterly offer lots of free patterns. Etsy has lots of gorgeous stained glass patterns for sale. I’ll link some patterns I like-

  2. Books and Magazines: There are lots of books. you can buy that are dedicated to just stained glass patterns. You can also check your local library for books on stained glass patterns. Here’s a few good ones-

  3. Stained Glass Artists: Many stained glass artists create and sell their own patterns. You can find them through their websites, social media, or Etsy Shop. Here’s my favorite stained glass Etsy shop.
  4. Local Workshops and Classes: If you’re taking a stained glass class or workshop, the instructor will probably provide patterns for you to use during the course.

Stained Glass Work Room

The first step with making stained glass is figuring out a space where it can be done. It needs to be functional and safe. Here are some key considerations for setting up such a stained glass work room:

Ample Workspace: Ensure there’s enough room for laying out and cutting glass, assembling pieces, and soldering. Large tables or workbenches are essential.

Good Lighting: Natural light is ideal, but also have adequate artificial lighting, especially focused task lighting, to illuminate the workspace effectively.

Ventilation: Proper ventilation is crucial, especially when soldering, to remove fumes and ensure a safe working environment. Consider installing exhaust fans or working near windows that can be opened.

Storage: Organized storage for glass sheets, tools, chemicals, and finished pieces is essential. Shelving units, cabinets, or drawers can help keep supplies tidy and accessible.

Work Surfaces: Non-slip and heat-resistant work surfaces are important for cutting and soldering. Consider using materials like plywood covered with a durable, heat-resistant surface.

Utility Sink: A sink with hot and cold water is useful for cleaning glass, tools, and workspace. This is optional, but nice to have.

Electrical Outlets: Sufficient electrical outlets for powering tools and equipment are necessary. Bonus points for having outlets with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) for added safety.

Solid Surface Floor: Since glass pieces may get broken and fall on the floor, it’s important to have an area that doesn’t have carpet and can easily be swept after working with stained glass. If you do have carpet, roll out some linenoum over it.

Make sure the room you choose to work in isn’t also used for food prep since there’s nothing worse than glass shards in you food.

beginner stained glass supplies

Next, I’m going to tell you the supplies I suggest if you’re getting started with stained glass. I’ll show you the bare minimum you need to buy plus upgrades that are optional or will be a nice add on later in your stained glass journey. Everything is saved in my Amazon storefront here. 

I’ll also show you a project I’ve made this week!

At the bottom of the post I’ll add up how much I spent purchasing my beginner stained glass supplies.

safety supplies

Here are the must have safety supplies-

Safety glasses: wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from glass shards. Use during stained glass cutting, grinding, and soldering 

Mask: wear a mask to protect against lead exposure and glass dust. Wear during stained glass grinding, and soldering. A respirator is strongly suggested during soldering.

Gloves: make sure to wear gloves to protect your hands from being cut. Wear cut resistant gloves during stained glass cutting, grinding, and heat resistant gloves during soldering

In addition, make sure your legs are fully covered and you wear closed toed shoes while working with stained glass as glass can fall and cut you.

Make sure there’s plenty of ventilation when soldering.

Optional safety supply-

Fume Extractor: Soldering involves heating metal solder, which releases fumes that can contain harmful substances such as lead and other chemicals. Inhaling these fumes can be hazardous to your health, causing respiratory irritation, headaches, dizziness, and other health problems, especially with prolonged exposure. A fume extractor helps to remove these harmful fumes from the air, protecting your respiratory system and overall health.

Please note: I cannot be held liable for your safety or for the safety of those around you. The safety procedures and products listed here are industry standard recommendations.

glass cutting (or breaking) supplies

The first step with stained glass is cutting the glass. Here’s a list of essential supplies to do so:

tools

Glass Cutter: This is the primary tool for cutting stained glass. Glass cutters come in various styles, but the most common type for stained glass work is a handheld cutter with a small cutting wheel made of hardened steel or carbide.

Cutting Oil: Cutting oil helps lubricate the cutting wheel of the glass cutter (there’s a place in the bottom of the cutter to pour it in) as well as the glass surface, reducing friction and ensuring a smoother cut. It also helps to prolong the life of the cutting wheel. 

Running Pliers: Running pliers are used to apply pressure along the score line after cutting, helping to break the glass cleanly along the scored line.

Breaking/ Grozer Pliers: Used for breaking and shaping glass pieces. After breaking glass along scored lines, grozer pliers are often used to remove any remaining nibs or uneven edges.

optional tool-

Silberschnitt Running Pliers: A high-quality, durable tool that enhances your stained glass work. These running pliers make curved cuts easier to achieve.

supplies

Glass: Various types of colored or clear glass sheets for creating your stained glass design. You can purchase stained glass sheets from art or craft supply stores or online.

Cutting Surface: A flat and smooth surface is necessary for cutting glass. Many stained glass artists use a dedicated cutting surface made of materials like plywood or drywall. Some also prefer using a self-healing cutting mat.

Pattern: Find a pattern from one of the above sources. Here’s a link to the beetle pattern I’m using.

Pattern Shears: Pattern shears (or foil scissors) are specialized scissors designed for cutting patterns out of paper. They are useful because they cut away a strip of paper that is the same thickness as the foil so you end up with the perfectly sized piece of glass once the foil is attached in future steps.

Sharpie: used to trace the pattern onto the glass. You can also use rubber cement to adhere the pattern piece onto the glass. It’s also helpful for writing the number of the pattern piece on the glass.

Stand for holding Full Glass Pieces: Glass needs to be stored vertically. A stand keeps them from touching, plus you can pull out one sheet without touching any of the other pieces of glass.

Storage Box for Small Glass Pieces: it’s nice to have a box or storage bin for holding smaller glass pieces that can be re-used. There’s a lot of supplies for stained glass. I bought two storage bins for holding some of the supplies too.

Dust Pan and Brush: When breaking the glass, sometimes small shards break off on the work surface. I like to keep a dust pan and brush handy to clean those up to prevent cuts. I bought a small one so I can keep it for my stained glass projects only.

Optional glass cutting supplies-

Another handy tool to have for cutting stained glass is a Cricut. This would be used instead of pattern shears or a Sharpie. I’d only suggest this if you own it already (like I do) or you know you’ll use it for lots of projects. The Cricut is used to cut out the pattern with vinyl so it can be stuck on the glass like a sticker. 

Glass grinding supplies

 

Glass Grinder: The primary tool for glass grinding is a glass grinder machine. This electric device features a motorized grinding wheel or abrasive bit that rotates at high speeds to grind away glass material. Glass grinders come in various sizes and styles, but most feature a flat grinding surface.

Spray Bottle: Fill a spray bottle with water and use it to mist the grinder bit while grinding. This helps get a cleaner cut and prolong the life of the grinder bits.

Cleaning Supplies: After grinding, glass pieces may have residue or debris that needs to be cleaned off. A lint-free cloth and glass cleaner can be used to clean and polish glass pieces after grinding.

Nice to have-

Splash Guard: A splash guard or shield helps contain water and glass particles generated during grinding, preventing them from splashing onto your work surface or surrounding area. Note after grinding once, I ordered one to help minimize the mess.

Grinder Coolant: This is used in stained glass work to lubricate and cool the cutting wheel or grinding bit of a glass grinder. It helps keep the grinder bit moving and prevents seizing. 

Grinding Bits: Grinding bits are interchangeable attachments that fit onto the grinding wheel of the glass grinder. They come in various shapes and grits, allowing you to grind glass to different shapes and smoothness levels. Common types of grinding bits include standard grinding bits, fine-grit bits for smoothing, and specialty bits for beveling or shaping.

copper foil supplies

Copper Foil Tape: This is a thin, adhesive-backed copper foil tape specifically designed for stained glass work. It comes in various widths to accommodate different glass thicknesses. Start with the 7/32 inch size as it works with standard glass sizes. The copper foil tape can be cut with normal scissors or an exact-o knife.

Fid: A fid is used to push lead came (the metal strips that hold together the glass pieces in traditional stained glass work) into place. It helps to ensure that the lead came is properly seated against the glass edges and fits snugly.

optional copper foil supplies-

Copper Foiling Wrapping Tool: An affordable tool that speeds up foiling wrapping while perfectly placing it centered on the glass. I’ve ordered this and am excited to try this! I also like that this is small and easy to store.

Table Foiler: This is a bit of a splurge, but it’s also an easier way to apply a strip of copper foil tape to the edges of glass pieces. The table foiler simplifies and speeds up the process of applying copper foil to glass pieces while giving it consistent and professional application. 

soldering supplies

Soldering Iron: A soldering iron is used to melt solder and join the copper foil seams together. I bought one that includes a soldering stand to keep the soldering iron safely in place when not in use. Make sure to choose one where you can change the temperature. Mine also has a tip cleaner. So it’s a three in one!

Solder: Solder is a metal alloy (usually tin and lead) used to join the copper foil seams and attach other metal parts in stained glass work. Buy a 60/40 solder for stained glass use.

Flux: Flux helps solder flow smoothly over the metal surfaces, creating strong, uniform joints. Without flux, solder may bead up or form uneven blobs, leading to weak connections and unsightly solder seams.

Flux Brush: A flux brush is used to apply flux to the copper foil seams before soldering.

Magic Eraser: These are effective at removing stubborn residues, such as flux residue left behind after soldering stained glass pieces. 

Pledge: Used in stained glass work as a polish and protective coating for finished pieces. Spray the polish onto a rag (not directly onto the glass). Buff the whole piece and pay attention to the solder lines. Let it dry before displaying.

optional supplies-

Silicone Mat: when soldering your stained glass pieces, it’s nice to use a heat-resistant surface to protect your workbench or table from damage. This is affordable and stores nicely.

after

And here is the finished stained glass sun catcher I made this week. I’m not going to lie, I’m not 100% happy with it. While soldering, things shifted so there’s too big of gaps between some of the pieces. And they don’t lay flat.

Pretty much any issue that could’ve happened did- there’s a small crack in one of the legs, the copper foil lifted on some pieces, huge gaps. 

But that’s ok. Even if I cried about it- lol. The point is that I started. And the best way to learn is from failures. So I learned the hard way and hopefully next time it turns out better.

I purposefully made this to hang in my son’s playhouse. I won’t see it everyday, but it still looks cool even though it isn’t perfect.

price breakdown

I want to add up how much the stained glass for beginners supplies came to. I spent $5 on the mask. Cut resistant gloves cost $16. The glass Cutter, running pliers, and breaking pliers kit were $28. I bought cutting oil $10 and the pattern for $3. The stand for holding full glass pieces costs $10 and the storage Box for small glass pieces  was $2.

I also got the dust pan and brush for $7. The glass grinder was a splurge for $122. Then I added on the splash guard for $17. The copper foil tape was $14, the Fid $11, and the Soldering Iron $43. I spent $22 on the Solder, $15 on the Flux, and $5 on the Flux Brush. The Silicone Mat was $10. And I spent a total of $47 on Glass.

Total- $387

So there you have it, my beginner stained glass tips. Let me know if you have any questions. Or tips for my next try- lol. Is this a hobby you’d like to try?

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