Cardinal Tabletop Adornment




Introduction: Cardinal Tabletop Adornment

I love making stained glass in 3-D to display on a table, shelf or bookcase. I especially like to feature flora and fauna which includes loons, chickadees, cardinals, hummingbirds, lilies, roses, succulents, walleye and musky to name a few. I decided to feature a cardinal for this Instructable.


Stained Glass Pattern

Glass – Red, Black, Orange

Copper Foil - 7/32 & 3/16 wide

Solder - 60/40

Glass Cutter

Soldering Iron

Glass Grinder or Abrasive Stone

Foiler (Optional)

Running & Grozing Pliers

Wire Cutter & Pliers

Drill & Bits

Glue Gun and Glue Sticks

Wire - 14 Gauge

Piece of Wood



Baking Soda

Dish Soap

Loctite Glue

Paste Wax


Sharpie – Silver


Rubbing Alcohol

Popsicle stick

Flux Brushes

Push Pins

Rubber Dipped Gloves


Step 1: Choosing Glass

I choose my glass first; the pattern and translucency/opacity of the glass will give you different appearances. I found 3 different glasses I liked and I decided to use the translucent glass with a light texture that didn’t have a grain line. This way I can cut almost the whole outline of the cardinal in one piece and then cut the pieces apart plus the red is bright so the glass will really show up red without direct light shining through it.

Step 2: Cut Glass

Since the glass is translucent, I can place the pattern under the glass and see the lines of the pieces through the glass to use as a guide for scoring with the glass cutter. I then use the running pliers to run the score to break the glass. With some pieces, I will use the grozing pliers to help break glass apart. With the black glass, I will use the silver sharpie to mark the score line for scoring and breaking.

Step 3: Grinding Glass

I’ll grind down the edges of the glass to remove shards and even the edges. I especially want to do the corners to eliminate sharp points. Also, this will help the copper foil to adhere better. If you don't have access to a grinder, an abrasive stone can be used.

Step 4: Foil & Burnish

First, wipe down each piece of glass with rubbing alcohol to clean so foil sticks better. For larger pieces, I can use the foiler for applying the copper foil, the smaller pieces such as the beak I will hand foil by centering the glass on the foil wrapping it around the perimeter. (Some stained glass artists prefer to foil everything by hand) Either way, after the piece is foiled, the foil needs to be burnished down. There are all kinds of tools out there for burnishing but I still like using a popsicle stick the best. First burnish down edges and then burnish down the foil on each side of glass, being careful at corners to try to press down one side first and then press other side of corner over that.

Step 5: Solder

Pin around the outer edge of cardinal to hold pieces tightly together. Brush with flux and spot solder just enough to hold pieces together. Remove pins, flux copper foil thoroughly and solder making a nice rounded bead. After first side is done, flip it over, flux and solder this side leaving the seams by tail and bottom of body without a bead. (This will be used for attaching wires to mount the cardinal on a piece of wood)

Step 6: Adding Wire

Cut 2 pieces of wire about 2½-3” long. Bend with piers about ½” from one end. Place short ends on seams and bend wires so that they will be parallel to each other (this will make it easier when mounting to wood). It is easier if you flux and pre-tin the wire first before attaching to cardinal. Hold wire in place with pliers and solder to seam. Repeat with other wire. I like to place the wires in a seam because it is much stronger then just soldering the wire to the edge.

Step 7: Finish Soldering

I use gloves for this step otherwise you’ll be getting flux all over your hands. You must hold the piece perpendicular to the table but rotating it so the edge where you are soldering is parallel to the table. Since solder is a liquid when soldering it will go to lowest point, that’s why you need to be rotating cardinal to form a nice bead on the edge.

To make beads for eyes: melt some solder onto the soldering iron and flick it downward to make bead. Repeat. to make 2 beads.

Step 8: Clean

Sprinkle some baking soda on cardinal and rub on solder seams to neutralize flux. Rinse and then use scrubbing pad and dish soap to clean more thoroughly, scrubbing seams. Dry

Step 9: Add Eyes

Place a drop of glue on a scrap piece of cardboard. Holding solder bead with tweezers, place a smidgen of glue on flat side of bead using a toothpick. Place on black face of cardinal. Let dry.

Hold cardinal up to light with side with the eye glued on it away from you. Take sharpie and mark where eye is on opposite side. Glue other eye in place, let dry.

Step 10: Wax & Patina

Use paste wax as directed, especially on solder. Keep rubbing until there is no black coming off the solder.

Place cardinal on a rag and brush patina on solder. Do both sides, let sit for a couple minutes then wipe down with more rags. For cardinals I have used copper or black patina depending on the glass. I decided that the copper patina would be nicer on this piece since the red glass is so bright.

Step 11: Attaching to Wood

I play around looking where I want to place the cardinal on the wood. Once I decide, I then mark spots where the wires will be embedded into wood. Drill holes a slightly larger than wire gauge. I'll hold cardinal behind so I can determine angle to drill. I'll then put a scrap wire in first hole to help drill second hole at same angle.

Insert wires into holes and push down carefully till you are happy with height. Check head-on to make sure cardinal is perpendicular to table. If it isn't, bend carefully. Using glue gun, place some glue where wire enters wood.

Step 12: Embellish

I use potpourri and a glue gun to help decorate the piece of wood particularly around wire to hide glue used there. It helps to raise cardinal up higher to judge where to place embellishments.Remember "less is more", you don't want to take away from the cardinal. Every once in a while step back and look at it from a distance to judge if it's fine or you need to add more. Also, remember to look at it from all angles.

Display with pride.

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    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    2 years ago

    That's a beautiful stained glass piece :)


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you, I enjoy making them plus other birds and fish.