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Decorative Stained Glass Projects That You Can Do On Your Own

Decorative Stained Glass Projects That You Can Do On Your Own

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Stained glass is probably one of the most sophisticated of the at home art projects. There are two approaches to making stained glass: the informal kind of kid's birthday party activity and the more experienced method, which can produce breath-taking results (this does not of course include the third category of professional stained glass). Among some of the more common stained glass projects are jewelry boxes, boarders or dividers, earrings, window hangings, and lampshades. Really, once you've mastered the techniques, you can open the door to myriad designs and endless creations.

One of the reasons decorative stained glass is so popular and unusually charming is the individuality of each piece. Even if you are following a commonly used pattern, or creating the same pattern twice, you will never achieve an exact duplicate. The subtle differences found in stained glass create this unique phenomenon. There are three main categories of stained glass: cathedral, opalescent, and full or sheet antique. Each one has its own charm, and every piece of glass will possess its own individuality and beauty.

Safety note: Whenever handling glass, hold the sheet from the top, not the sides. If the glass should slip out of your hands, you may have some glass to clean up but at least you'll have your hands to clean up with! Don't leave pieces of glass, large or small lying around. Clean up your work area once you've finished working on a project even for the moment to avoid accidents. The following steps should not to be done by or close to children.

Here are the basic instructions for making stained glass art. Once those are clear, you can begin designing and creating unique pieces of your own. You can also decide if this is something you'd like to pursue more seriously, or if it's likely to remain a hobby.

Choose a pattern, glass type, and equipment.

Make two copies of the pattern. Number both copies (identically), but cut out only one. This is so that you have a reference guide (the uncut numbered pattern) and a pattern template (the cut pieces of pattern).

Transfer the pattern onto the glass using a marker and your cut out template pieces. Be sure to transfer the numbers as well, so you will know which piece is which.

Cut or score the glass with a glasscutter tool, and break apart, with either your hands or a pair of glass breaking pliers, swiftly and gently. Don't apply a lot of pressure, rather firm, but not squeezing, pressure, and move the pliers back and forth until the score breaks. Cut into long strips of glass first, and then score each individual piece. Checking your scored pieces against the paper pattern pieces periodically will ensure accuracy.

Place a piece onto the pattern to see if it has excess glass that will need to be smoothed out. Check each piece against the pattern, grind accordingly, and replace, until all your pieces fit perfectly (or nearly perfect) onto the pattern.

Wrap the edges of each piece with a sticky foil tape. Start from one point, and go around the perimeter, completely covering the glass edge with tape. Leave a small amount of tape to overlap onto the starting point.

The soldering iron and tools can get extremely hot and present a danger to small children or pets, so be aware. After brushing flux onto the seams of each foiled piece, carefully run the tip of the iron (with the solder pressed against it) along the seam. Be sure to cover all seams and edges completely, including the outer and innermost edges.

Clean with a regular glass cleaner, and you are ready to show off your masterpiece!

If you plan on hanging this beautiful project in a window, you can solder loops onto it as well. Make sure that the hanging loops are attached to a solder seam to ensure a secure grip.

(Note: Steps 3 and 4 are interchangeable. You can either cut strips of glass first, and then trace and score each piece, or vice versa. It's all a matter of individual preference.)

Next week, we'll look at some technical terms, what supplies you'll be working with, and offer a few tips for better projects. Stay tuned!

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