Introduction: Stained Glass Necklace – No Soldering!
Use silver clay and copper foil tape to make this beautiful necklace without soldering!
Years ago, I briefly explored stained glass making as a hobby. I would cut colorful glass pieces with cutters, grind the edges smooth, and solder the pieces into a finished pane of glass. My fingers were covered in cuts, my hair and clothes were covered in glass “sand”, and my lungs were breathing lead fumes from the hot solder. I moved on quickly to another hobby, but missed the pretty way the colors would diffuse the light. This project produces a very realistic miniature stained glass window charm without bodily damage.
Step 1: Gather the Supplies
For this project, you will need:
· Stained glass chips
· Metallic silver clay which cures by baking in an oven
· A role of ¼ inch wide peel and stick copper foil tape
· Your favorite type(s) of glue
· A piece of waxed paper
· Leftover pieces of jewelry, beads, and jewelry findings
· Jewelry tools (needle nose pliers, wire cutters, scissors)
This weekend I found a bag of stained glass remnants for fifty cents at a yard sale. The pieces were so tiny (really little more than dust), and could not be used for a window. You can purchase a bag of small pieces from a craft store, or ask a professional crafter for their tiny leftover chips. A serious window maker would just throw these small chips in the trash. You might also consider using ordinary glass chips, carefully crushed from recyclables. When doing this project, don’t forget to wear eye protection, particularly if you decide to smash your own glass!
Metallic silver clay can be bought at craft stores. It is sold in small bricks (about three inches square, and ½ inch thick).
Copper foil tape is a craft supply that is used to make large stained glass projects. It is very thin tape made from real copper. It is sold on rolls, and is about ¼ inch wide. The copper foil is surprisingly affordable. Just peel off the paper backing, and stick it on your project. I love this tape! It has so many uses. Just a little bit will really take a craft project to a higher level of professionalism.
Step 2: Make Your Design
I begin by arranging the glass chips on a piece of waxed paper. My design is only about one inch across. Rearrange the pieces until you find a roughly square or rectangular design that you like. I didn’t try to make a specific design for my necklace. Your design will be different than mine. Glass chips are never cut exactly the same way, and stained glass has variation of color and thickness within every piece.
Roll the silver clay into thin threads, and wrap the clay around and in between the glass chips. The clay will have a more workable texture if you fold the clay repeatedly with your warm fingers in your palms before using. Add extra clay around the outside of the design, leaving a border of clay (about 1/16 inch) around the entire miniature stained glass window.
Step 3: Clean and Trim the Window Design
Clean up your window using fingers, a utility knife, and other found tools (toothpicks work great!). Cut crisp, flat edges for the outside of the window. Let the “solder” end in a crisp line at the edge of the glass chips. Flip your design over, and check the backside. Trim the clay so that the both sides of the glass chips are not covered with clay. Make sure that the clay only touches the sides of the glass chips, since we want the light to shine through our little windows. If you have never done “real” stained glass windows, it would be helpful to find a big stained glass window. Examine the lead between the glass panels.
Step 4: Baking the Clay Window
When you are happy with your little stained glass window, bake it in an oven. I am using a very inexpensive toaster oven that we have for the sole purpose of cooking craft projects. Craft projects sometimes use toxic materials, so we bought a toaster that will never be used to cook things to eat. If you don’t want to spend money on a new toaster, shop at yard sales. I put my window on a piece of tinfoil before cooking.
Check the label of your clay for cooking instructions. I cooked my little window in a preheated 250 degree toaster oven for six minutes. After cooking (and cooling), the clay will harden. The glass will not melt in the toaster oven at 250 degrees. I do need to warn you that these little windows cook very quickly! The difference between a perfect window, and a burnt window, is a “window” (sorry for the pun) of just a few seconds. Do not go get a cup of coffee while waiting for it to cook. Sit down, and STARE at the window the whole time that it cooks. If you see or smell smoke, take it out, fast!
Step 5: Add the Copper Foil Trim
After the window has cooled, peel and stick a piece of copper tape around the edges of your window. My copper tape came from a yard sale, and does not stick well. Perhaps, new tape would be more adhesive. No problem, I just added some extra glue. Put the seam on the center top of the window.
Next, I made a small copper loop to string my window charm. Cut a piece of copper foil tape ½ inch long, fold in half lengthwise, and stick together. Fold in half in the other direction, and glue to the top of your window. This will be the loop that will be used to hang the window on your necklace. I used hot glue for this task, but you might prefer a different type of glue.
Since I wanted some complimentary charms for my necklace, I selected some random larger chunks of glass. I wrapped tape around each glass piece with the seam at the top center, while pressing the edges onto the glass. Once again, fold and add a copper loop to the top of each piece.
Step 6: Arrange Your Necklace Design
This part of the instructions will vary with individual artistic expression. I knew that I wanted the stained window as the center piece, with two or three companion glass pieces on each side, so I laid those pieces on a flat surface. Working on a piece of felt or dense foam rubber will discourage beads from rolling. I pulled out my junk jars of jewelry parts and beads, and tried different combinations. I decided that I liked beads and heart charms (later discarded) in a dull metallic, and a few glass beads that had a stained glass color with a jagged cut. This gave my necklace a "look" of a rustic, hand forged, metal craft. I will string my charms and beads for only a few inches, then attach a metal chain and clasp for the back of the necklace. My chain was a discarded metal chain necklace, broken in half with needle nose pliers and wire cutters. Your necklace will look different than mine. Instead of attempting to make an exact copy of my necklace, try making your own design using broken jewelry parts that you have hiding in your craft room.
Step 7: Stringing Beads and Attaching Wires
If you are not familiar with the art of making jewelry, you are encouraged to read more about basic jewelry making skills, before assembling your necklace.
Cut a piece of beading wire, and thread the charms and beads onto the wire. Thread a crimp bead onto one end of the wire, add a small ring, and fold the wire through the crimp bead. (Crimp beads are special beads made just for this purpose.) Adjust the wire (feed loose end of wire into beads), and crimp the bead. A crimper tool works great, but a talented crafter can make a pair of needle nose pliers work nearly as well. Repeat on the other end of the wire, pulling the wire tight, but leaving a little extra space so that the charms and beads will float freely. Use needle nose pliers (and more rings, if needed) to attach each end of the charm covered wire to your recycled chain on each side. I do not need to add a clasp, since I left the clasp on the recycled chain.
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