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Stained Glass – First Impressions


On Thursday, I attended my very first stained glass class. I’m a person who craves knowledge; I eat up books, magazines, and tv shows that teach me new things. It’s something of an obsession, this needing to know. It stems from my type-a competitive personality; deep down, it bugs me if someone can do something that I can’t. It also merges with my frugal side. The part of me that sees something at a craft fair or a boutique store and says “Cute, but I could make that for 1/4 the cost!”

The point being, classes have always been fun for me. And classes involving crafts? Ultra fun. My new teacher, Mike, seems like a very nice guy. He has been working with stained glass for over 20 years, and has his own shop. The way he scores and breaks glass makes it look deceivingly simple.

Stained glassThe class started out with some basic safety guidelines and an intro to the tools we’ll use. Our first piece will be in the “tiffany style” or copper foil technique. You can build a window using this method, but you wouldn’t want to expose it to the elements. For exterior windows like the ones I eventually want to make, the lead-came technique is recommended. So I’ve got some learning ahead of me!
We got around to scoring and break glass about an hour into the first class. I love jumping right in, so I’m glad it’s mostly hands-on learning. The scoring tool we’re using is a “pistol grip” cutter, which looks like a fun kids toy but is actually a crazy sharp little rotary cutter. It’s amazing how little effort you have to put into scoring the glass; it’s like rolling a rotary cutter across a single strip of fabric. Zip…. snap. That’s it.

We used running pliers and breaker pliers to snap the glass off. Holding giant shards of glass in your hand is anxiety-producing at first, but once I got over my initial fears I had a much easier time with the snapping. I slashed myself twice, but neither were gushers and by the end of the night I was able to cut deep half-circles out of a straight piece of glass. Not bad for one lesson!

I’m looking forward to next week’s class. We’ll be making a small suncatcher-type thing with a flower in it. It has quite a few curves and odd shapes in it, so I think it’ll be sufficiently challenging ;)

Check out Wikipedia’s entry on lead-came and coppor-foil glass work – it’s a good one!

Comments, Thoughts, and Feedback

Ernest had this to say on 09.16.06:

I’m looking forward to seeing pictures of your restored stained glass window at the foot of your stairs. Will you be able to match the missing glass from new stock?

Bruce had this to say on 09.16.06:

Very cool. I’ve started amassing my own tools in preparation for taking some classes myself.

Tiffany Lamp Collector had this to say on 12.06.06:

I look forward to hearing more of what you learn in your stained glass class.

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