Stained Glass




This instructable will show how to make stained glass objects. This process is good for such objects but is not recommended for windows. For this, you will need to know how to solder.
You can make 3D items or sun catchers, they make great gifts.

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Step 1: Gathering Materials

You will need:
-A pattern (find one on the internet, alot of times i can't find one so i use simple children's coloring pages for a pattern, or you can just draw your own)
-Safety glasses (glass goes everywhere)
-Gloves (optional- i dont use gloves but i also cut my hands when doing this)
-Glass (you can even use mirror if you like)
-Copper Tape (i use 1/4 in thickness)
-Solder (50% Lead, 50% Tin)

-Glass Grinder (you can do without one but it is easier and makes edges cleaner)
-grozing pliers (these or ones specially made for glass)
- Glass Cutter
- Flux Brush
- Sharpie

Step 2: Get Pattern

Cut out your pattern, if you are going to use this pattern alot then you can trace it on a thin piece of cardboard.
With your sharpie, trace the pattern on your glass. For dark colored glass i use white out to trace it.

Step 3: Cut Out the Shapes

Wear your safety glasses :)

-If you traced pieces on the same sheet of glass then separate them.

-When you cut glass, you want to try to cut it in a straight line. If your glass is textured then cut on the nontextured side, if it is textured on both sides then cut on the smoother one.

- If you want the result to be the same size as your pattern, then cut right inside the lines. I normally cut on or a little out of the lines so it can be ground down later to fit better.

-The glass cutter just scratches the surface. If you are cutting out a big piece then you can put the scratch over the edge of the table to break it. If it is a small piece then use your grozing pliers to take off the excess glass. The edges dont have to be perfect if you use a grinder. If you dont have a grinder, then use the grozing pliers to clean up the edges. Look at the picture to see how the grozing pliers should be held. If you hold them the other way then you have a good chance of shattering your glass.

- If you have a glass grinder then this will be easy. Make sure before you start that you put water on it because it needs to be wet. if it dries out a little during shaping the glass then add more water.

-Now just grind down the edges to the size you want (make sure your pieces fit together almost exactly, if they aren't then grind them down so they are).

- Once you have them all smoothed out, just clean them up with some water. Should take off the wet ground glass and the sharpie/whiteout lines. make sure you dry the pieces well.

Step 4: Add the Copper Tape

the idea: wrap the edges in tape

-Measure the tape you need before you rip it off the roll because you want to use only one piece. Make sure you have some to overlap a little.

-Put the glass in the middle of the tape and wrap it around the edges. You are going to want to make it stick well.

- I rub the edges on a table corner

- Push the tape down over the corners to frame the glass. Then rub that with a sharpie or the side of your nail (just to make it stick and not rip)

Step 5: Soldering!

Wear safety glasses and long pants (trust me). If you didnt wear gloves when cutting glass, and have cuts on your hands then don't get the flux in the cuts! it hurts...
Ventilation, because any fumes you inhale can't be good.

- Use a soldering iron made for lead soldering...not the electronic soldering iron.

- Use nails to hold your pieces in place

- Brush flux on before you solder. Dont flux the whole thing at one time, do it in small areas. If solder isn't melting and you turned up your iron then add more flux.

- Solder- Just solder over all the copper, its up to you if you want it very flat or want a puffy edge on it.

- Solder Both sides of the glass

- If you are making a butterfly or something and want to add antenna or want to add a hook to something, copper wire works best just add flux and solder. if its not copper, then add the tape first

Step 6: Clean It Up

Clean it gently with cool water and dish soap to get all the flux off because the flux gives the glass a greasy feel and looks....well black and gross.

Step back and admire your work :)

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    20 Discussions


    9 months ago

    Thoughts on doing this with kids aged 9-13? I run a maker club and we have done soldering before, but I wanted to add an artistic edge to it.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    There's a stained glass supply shop by me. I think it's time to take a trip over there...


    really nice tutorial, surprisingly little on this subject on this site.  Its mostly faux style. 

    eleraamaFrench t0ast

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I would suggest altering the pattern so that there are no lines that go all the way across the design— it seriously weakens the piece. It's okay for small things like this, but eventually the weight of the glass itself can cause bigger pieces to break.

    happylueFrench t0ast

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry, i drew the bird directly on the glass without a pattern. its quite easy to draw. the body is cut in half so it is easier to cut out the body pieces and to attach the legs.


    10 years ago on Step 1

    I've always wondered how to do stained glass, this seems basic enough for me to understand, thank you for the upload


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Actually this technique is fine for most windows. And is actually stronger than windows made with lead lines, since there is much more solder holding it together.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I don't know your glass experience level, but in MINE, it is NOT stronger. Properly stretched and mudded lead cameing is superior in all ways, except ease of execution. Not to say foil/solder isn't perfectly acceptable. It is... In effect, a fully foiled and soldered glass joint IS cameing, only thin, and using adhesive instead of mud. In the short term, the foil will probably be as good, or a little better... but in the long term, the adhesive WILL fail, and then you're left with inferior 'quasi-cameing'. It may be 30 years down the road, so for craft quality glass, that is fine. For an heirloom quality work though, lead came is THE way to go. I have seen 200 year old stained glass done with lead, still in place, and almost like new. To be fair, modern copper foil hasn't been around that long, to even be able to tell how it will hold up over that span of time.

    Hmm, I may use bits of this technique for replacing the damage to my stained glass windows, mainly the cutting out, then have to open and seal the leading again, which is tricky but would be better than losing them...

    3 replies

    there is a slightly different technique of you're working with lead cameing, instead of copper foil. though they CAN be mixed. Basically, in that case, you can remove one side of the cameing(turning the H shape into a T shape). Then, for a cheap fix, replace the broken glass with new glass and tape foil over the joint. Run a lead bead over the fresh foil, and call it done. For a 'proper' fix, you'll need to remove the old cameing from all around the broken glass. the replacement cameing is h shapped. Foiled new glass is then put in place, and the missing leg of cameing is fluxed and soldered. And all the new cameing joints are also resoldered. Finally, re-mud the new cameing. Repairs will never look as good, nor be as strong as the origional work... but 'it will hold' and if the missing leg side is on the back, it should be an invisible repair. and even if o9n the front, should be visible only on close inspection. If that STILL isn't good enough, take it to a professional glass shop, and have it re-leaded entirely. It's not very expensive, and the finished product will be as good as new.

    Unfortunately most of the windows can't be removed from the frame with out replacing the entire thing, however my parents replaced the odd one when they lived in the house, I was able to work out the technique from the repairs, which did blend in really well because they took care making the cuts in the leading and putting it back in. Also need to resolder on the ties that go across the door bars, because one of the panes is large is has a set of bars with ties to the leading to keep it strong, some of which have let go over the years, though them being of will make replacing the little panes easier as it gives a little flex. One issue is that some of the glass is very old deep coloured glass that's rather expensive apparently, though the lighter blue you used and the green are close so I'm guessing it can be found. The reds and magentas may be more of an issue... Thanks very much for the extra info on this, one other thing, what kind of solder would you recommend for the job, especially in terms of blending in to the old stuff. One thing I do need to do is get them cleaned up aswell, which is quite a nuisance since they've been around for 80 odd years so some have a litle lead corrosion, plus they're textured both sides and I'd like to match them up, since they'll eventually be sandwiched in double glazing to keep the original look of the house while improving it's insulating properties immensely and having seen the neighbours various works They definitely look better if the windows are totally perfect in terms of cleaning first.

    There are a few places, where you can order antique panes of colored glass. that's your best bet for matching, if a stainedglass supply store can't find new stock. Double textured glass is less common, but available. For cleaning, Non-ammonia based glass cleaners, Old toothbrushes, and #0000 steel wool are your friends. Afterwards, to match the old lead color... you'll probably want to patina the new work(or everything at once, to match). 1 tbsp white vinegar or 1 tsp salt added to 1 to 4 ounces of black patina to make it come out darker and shinier will look pretty good. As a side note, with double textured glass, Mudding is SUPER DUPER IMPORTANT. Not just to act as glazing(sealing the air) but also to prevent chipping and cracking. The texture looks good, but makes the glass MORE prone to cracking.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I just wanted to add a quick heads up...solder often contains lead, so handle it accordingly. sure to solder in a WELL ventilated area. Breathing in solding fumes is a big no-no. And on a positive note...doing stained glass is actually not hard to learn. Your first projects can be very simple, like this 'ible, suncatchers, night-lights, etc. So give it a go! :)

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    and don't use your electronics solder iron for this. Spend the $15 and get a dedicated lead-solder solder iron. Oh, and avoid washing your hands with citris based soaps for a few days, or you'll find out where EVERY little cut is :-)


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Nice, I've always wanted to try to make stained glass, but didn't know where to begin. Thanks for posting!