How It's Made
The first step in making any stained glass project is choosing a pattern. Whether you are making a small suncatcher or a large panel, knowing the size and placement of the piece is important. There are many, many patterns available online or in books, or you can design one that fits exactly what you want (see the Completed Door Panel) with your own personal touches.
Once the pattern is chosen the next step is to choose the glass. For me this is one of the most exciting parts. There are so many types of glass and colors to choose from - let your creativity be your guide.
Cutting the glass takes some practice and some skill, but is not an exact science. Sometimes the glass does not break right where you want - that is okay. By adjusting the next piece to fit the pattern adjusts. This is what makes each and every piece unique and one-of-a-kind. We save all of our scraps to use in suncatchers or future pieces. Nothing goes to waste.
Once the pieces are cut, we use a grinder to smooth out the sharp edges and to insure a custom fit.
Next comes the foiling of the edges. We use a copper foil that is adhesive on one side. By lining up the center of the foil with the edges we are able to get an even amount of foil showing on both sides of the piece of glass. We then burnish the foil to the glass for an even "stick" so that the next step does not raise the foil from the glass.
After pinning the pieces in place, the next step is to begin soldering the pieces together. Using flux to prepare the foil, we then use 60/40 solder (60% tin and 40% lead) along with a standard 80 watt soldering iron. The goal is to get a smooth "bead" of solder. Once the piece is totally soldered on one side, we turn it over and do the same on the other side.
After the solder is complete then the piece is cleaned, first with soap and water to remove the oily flux and then with glass polish to give the whole piece a nice finished shine. The solder can be left silver or can be treated to turn black or copper, depending on either your or your clients preference.