Stained Glass Making

Crafts From the Past | Episode
Jun 21, 2022 | 8 min

Stained Glass Basics

Throughout its thousands of years in existence, stained glass has almost exclusively been used in building windows for churches or other religious buildings. Despite its daunting nature and set of specialized tools, creating works of art using stained glass is an easy, inexpensive and beautiful hobby.

Tools and Supplies

  • Stained glass
  • Pattern
  • Marker
  • Protective eyewear
  • Glass scoring cutter
  • Glass cutting oil
  • Breaking pliers
  • Copper foil tape
  • Scissors
  • Fid burnishing tool
  • Gloves
  • Flux
  • Small brush
  • Soldering iron
  • 60/40 solder
  • Damp sponge
  • Jump rings

Step-By-Step Instructions

Preparing your materials

  1. Lay down a protective surface, preferably a piece of plywood.
  2. Trace your pattern with a marker on the smoothest side of your glass.
  3. Apply your protective eyewear and fill your glass cutter with glass cutting oil.
  4. Break up your glass into shapes, using pliers for smaller pieces.
  5. File down the edges of your glass.
  6. Wash pieces to remove excess dust and oil.

Soldering your glass

  1. Wrap copper foil around the edges of your glass pieces.
  2. Use your burnishing tool to completely flatten edges.
  3. Put on gloves and pre-heat soldering iron.
  4. Apply flux to the copper tape using a small brush.
  5. Use the iron to tack solder onto the “joints” of your piece first.
  6. You may then solder the remaining edges.
  7. At the very end, solder your jump ring(s) to your piece for display.

Tips and Tricks

  • Don’t be afraid of the solder! Just go for it!
  • Center your copper tape when wrapping the edges of your glass pieces.
  • Allow your iron to fully heat up ahead of time.
  • Use plenty of flux for a smoother soldering experience.

Soldering Safety

  • Never touch the tip of the soldering iron.
  • Always return soldering iron to its stand when it's not in use.
  • Wear eye protection and gloves when handling solder. 
  • Work in a well-ventilated area and/or wear a respirator.
  • Unplug all soldering tools and verify they are cold before leaving them unattended.
  • Do not eat or drink near your workspace.
  • Always wash your hands after soldering.

Artist Spotlight

Sara King is a glass artist at Red Thread Upcycles in Winterset, Iowa. She has been a glass artist for over 20 years. She first learned how to work with stained glass in college and rekindled the hobby after becoming a mother. She started her business upon attending craft shows and farmers markets around Iowa.