Staying Inspired: Building Stained Glass

If I only submersed myself in photography and no other hobbies or interests two things would happen: I’d burn out and be terribly boring at parties. In college I wanted to take metal smithing. Who wouldn’t right?! It just so happened it wasn’t being offered so I took the next best thing: stained glass. Now this wasn’t your granny’s copper foil, crafty stained glass. I learned using zinc and lead came. Think big window panels! The stained glass students were the sole occupants of a former one-room school house, turned art studio. I should the sole STUDENT occupants. On one side of the building was Ardelia’s, the founder of the art program and master stained glass craftsman, studio. It was a building filled with light and colors that danced all over the walls depending on the direction of the sun. It was there that I fell in love with light. That’s not entirely true. I’ve always loved the sunshine and yes, I wear sunscreen.

So before a busy wedding and portrait season begins, I’m building some stained glass panels for my aunt and uncle’s hutch. I’ll show you in snippets.

Some of the essential tools for the precision glass construction takes. It’s not too forgiving when the measurements get off. I try to call upon the Type A person that may be hidden somewhere deep inside me on this part. So far…fail.

First thing’s first: start with a large pattern. Well in this case a small pattern that I had to enlarge using my math skills. I guess you really do use those after you graduate.

The lines for the pattern represent where the lead came runs.

The ruler, square and T square will become your best friend. Or you may want to throw them across the room.

You’ll need two copies of the pattern. One to trace glass pieces and the other to arrange on. I nail them both down with horseshoe nails. You’ll see later how important the horseshoe nail is. They aren’t round but flat on the edge.

Next comes the carbon paper between the soon-to-be two patterns. It comes in giant sheets! Perfect for tracing big patterns.

I have a lot of glass from the Op Shop in Kokomo, IN. The hard part is choosing the right colors for the piece. I’m generally not a fan of the translucent glass but that’s what I need for panels not in direst light.

This is part of why it’s hard. There’s so many cool colors and patterns. This one here was the leftover from a school in TX that had the mold made just for it’s windows. This was the leftover.



More to come…