Stained Glass – Basic Skills You Need To Make Stained Glass Art

Making stained glass crafts is a wonderful hobby for almost anyone. There’s just something magical about the unique beauty of these wonderful objects, but you don’t have to be a magician to create stained glass art. Anyone can do it!

Making beautiful stained glass objects requires very little initial investment, and even if you have only a basic skill level, the results of your efforts will amaze you.

Read the following overview of the skills needed, and I’m sure you’ll agree there’s no reason you can’t jump right in and make a success of your new hobby:

Cutting stained glass

Cutting is probably the most demanding skill you’ll need to develop. But don’t worry. Over the years, plenty of clever people have refined the glass cutting procedure to get it just right. Cutting is now safe, predictable, and easy.

If you follow standard glass-cutting procedure, use good equipment, and put safety first, you’ll find yourself easily cutting the shapes you need with very little waste or breakage.

Grinding pieces of stained glass until they’re just the right shape

Glass cutting is an inexact art. When you cut glass, you get the pieces close, but they’re never exactly the shape you need them to be to fit your design. And that’s where glass grinding comes in.

A good glass grinder resembles a miniature router table, and it makes it a snap to easily shape your rough-cut glass however you want. Any misshapen or jagged edges are easily ground away, and you’re left with a perfectly shaped piece that’s ready to take its place in the pattern.

Foiling the edges of the cut pieces of glass

As you probably know, solder doesn’t adhere to glass very well. In fact, if you tried to solder directly to glass, your creation would fall apart like a loose puzzle. That’s where foiling saves the day.

By wrapping copper foil around the cut edges of your pieces of stained glass, you give the solder something to stick to. Foil ties everything together so your stained glass creation becomes a single unit rather than a collection of separate pieces.

You can foil by hand, or use an inexpensive foiling tools to help you along. Either way, it’s an enjoyable task that’s almost impossible to get wrong.

Soldering stained glass

This is the one you’ve been waiting for, right? Soldering turns your glass pieces into a single, beautiful creation. And with the right equipment, it’s not as difficult as you might think.

Although clean, even soldering takes a bit of practice, even an absolute beginner can get the hang of it very quickly. And if you get some stray blobs of solder where they don’t really belong, there’s no reason to worry about it. After all, it adds character to your artwork. Anyway, you’ll almost always start soldering the back of your artwork first. So when it comes time to do the front, you’ll be up to speed and soldering like a pro!

With a good soldering station, you’ll always know if your soldering iron is heated up and ready to produce an even bead of solder.

Finishing and framing stained glass creations

Once your artwork is soldered to your satisfaction, there’s nothing left but to finish and frame your masterpiece. Finishing is an optional step that removes any imperfections in the solder joints, but lots of folks like to leave things unfinished for a more natural, hand-crafted look.

Framing is easy too, assuming your art is a standard size. If you made your artwork from a kit, it’s almost certain that you’ll easily find a frame to that fits. But if you’re the do it yourself type who designs his or her own stained glass, you’ll want to design it to fit a frame.

Marketing Stained Glass

I attend business workshops and seminars every month in an effort to learn more about running a business.
The one common question that I hear the most is how can I market my service or product. We often have students who catch the glimpse of how great it is to do glass and they start to imagine themselves doing glass work for a living. Some have been brave enough to ask us how they might be able to make money doing stained glass.
We have many times replied that we don’t know, if they find out, will they please let us know how? But here are some of the basics of promoting and marketing stained glass.

Going To The Fair

1. We heard from several people that attending craft fairs would be the best way that we could market our glass. We were told stories about the success of glass artists who sell $30,000 worth of glass every year in just two days!
With success like that, we figured we better go to a fair.

2. In Sept 2005 we went to Swiss Days in Midway, Utah with high hopes, but things didn’t go as planned. We didn’t quite make back the booth fees we’d paid.
What went wrong?

3. To answer that, we need to examine several factors.

A. As gift glass sellers, we failed because we didn’t sell enough product. Why? Because we didn’t have enough small gift items to sell. You can’t sell what you don’t have.

B. We were focused as custom glass artists. We passed out cards and made contacts at the fair. We showed a lot of art glass at the fair and actually succeeded in making a lot of contacts. Over the next few months we picked up several new customers and got to build a lot of custom work as a direct result of the fair.

Conclusion: It felt like a failure because we made so little during the fair, but we had a great time and met many people who wanted stained glass, which lead to some custom work. In the future we plan to take more gift items to satisfy our immediate cash flow needs and we plan to have response cards in an attempt to get those who are interested in stained glass to give us some contact information. We may offer a free video on cd/dvd as a way to get folks to give us their information.
We’ve also determined to attend smaller boutiques throughout the year in an effort to refine what sells and better learn what the gift market will consist of.

Getting Custom Work

4. When Tom Holdman (a local stained glass artist) decided to become a stained glass artist, a neighbor recommended that he go to a wealthy neighborhood and go door to door asking if they need stained glass in their home. He did just that and made a contact with a family who wanted glass and had some influence with the library board. This lead to a commercial job which lead to a great deal of publicity.

5. What can we learn from this story? That any friendship or relationship can lead to glass work. What we must do is ask anyone and everyone if they want or need stained glass work. Then, we must doggedly follow-up when someone expresses an interest. It is often amazing how a simple monthly phone call will eventually pay off. There have been many clients in our past who put off their project for a year or more. What you want to remember is that they wanted the window enough to have you design it, so keep in touch. Then they’ll think of you when the finances ease up. Wouldn’t it be sad to have another artist get to build your creation, just because you didn’t phone them every month?

Selling Cabinet Door Inserts

6. When a customer asks for cabinet door inserts, it will help the process along if you are ready to ask them the questions which will narrow down their choices and help to determine what you’ll need to do with the doors.
Ask if the doors are new or refurbished. If you can, learn the brand and manufacturer and most importantly, are they routed out for inserts, this will let you know if they can come straight to you for glass or if they need to go to your wood worker to have them modified.

7. Helping the customer arrive at what they want will save you and them a lot of time. So ask if they want to use transparent or opaque glass. What colors do they want to introduce and what bevels if any should go into the design. Do they want to add lighting to their cabinets and how much do they plan to spend. Do they want truly leaded panels or will single side leading be adequate. Last, what finish do they want, black, silver, pewter, bright copper or antique copper.

8. But how do we find these clients? We advertise in the yellow pages under cabinet makers equipment and supplies and we go to cabinet shops and put samples into their hands. The best thing to do is furnish glass samples of those which we carry and sample glass designs that they can show their customers. I like to furnish 8″ wide by 10″ tall samples because they fit comfortably in a box and are easy for the cabinet sales people to haul around. This is an investment of time, effort and money which is necessary because the salesman won’t sell for me if they don’t think about stained glass when they meet with clients.

Educate Folks About Stained Glass

9. Occasionally, in the past, we would moan and complain about the lack of understanding that the public had of what good stained glass was and how it enhances ones environment. Then one day, the light came on and we realized that it was our job to educate the public. We knew that the best clients for custom glass were the ones who had tried it and discovered that it wasn’t all that easy to build glass. They had a higher appreciation for the value of the work.
As artists, we not only have to raise the awareness of our art, we have to teach about the complexities and subtleties of our art. If you don’t point out it’s strengths, who will?

10. We discovered that one way to educate the community was to hold free or low cost seminars and workshops. This leads to many opportunities to share your knowledge of the stained glass industry and techniques. It also serves to raise the consciousness level of the community of stained glass around them.

11. You know how it is, you start looking for a leather sofa, or buy one and everywhere you look, you find leather sofas. Then you find a brand of running shoes that are particularly comfortable and you suddenly notice that “everyone” is wearing that brand of shoes. Your consciousness level has been raised and once it’s been raised, it will never be the same again.
That’s what you want to have happen with the community as far as stained glass is concerned.

12. We also found that the decorators and designers that often recommend us to their clients needed to be educated in the subtitles of stained glass art. They often didn’t know the finishes available or what the difference between the leaded method and copper foil were.

13. So we prepared presentations and educational materials for them, so they could have them for their clients. But we made sure that they were exposed to all the materials so that they would be knowledgeable when they presented them to their clients.

14. In conclusion, promoting your stained glass art is all about movement. You’ve got to prove you’re not dead. And you do that by attending fairs and boutiques so you can read the pulse of your market. And you stay in touch with those you meet. You groom relationships. You spend time talking with friends and former clients, not just to ask them for leads but also to get their feelings about glass. And you promote specific products which you specialize in, like cabinet doors.

And finally, you remember that you are a cheerleader for your industry and it doesn’t matter if you provide a free seminar which results in someone getting excited about glass and going to your competition. What goes around, comes around.

If you are out there promoting stained glass, so will your competition and you’ll find that there really isn’t any competition in this field. That there is plenty of work to go around. Many people want and need stained glass in their lives, they just don’t know it yet. So go out there and find them!

Expressing Art with Stained Glass

Art is as old as civilization itself. Ever since man became aware of his own existence, he has always tried to express his feeling through art. There are many forms of art. Painting, music, crafts and literature–the genius of centuries are all art. Man has known glass since the past few thousand years. And so glass has been one of the media of his expression of beauty and art. Often we come across magnificent pieces of art made of glass. Windows and cut glass, lamps and household articles–all of these are the magic of stained glass.

The term “stained glass” can refer to two things. It may refer to the material that makes colored glass. It also refers to the art and craft of working with it to produce beautiful designs. Stained glass, as a material, refers to the glass that is given color using salts. These salts are infused into the molten glass during the manufacture process. Yellow color is often used to enhance the look of stained glass. Further, stained glass is painted to give a colorful appearance. Stained glass also refers to windows that have been painted and then annealed in a furnace to give a very beautiful appearance to the window.

Extreme artistic and engineering skills are needed to produce stained glass. Artistic skills are needed to create the design and engineering skills are required to mount the decorative piece in its place such that it sustains its own weight. Stained glass windows are not windows in the true sense of the word. The purpose of stained glass windows is not to admit light or allow the people inside to see outside. Rather, they are used to control light. Stained glass windows are often called “illuminated wall decorations”.

Stained glass windows may or may not be used to depict something. Many stained glass windows depict events that have been drawn from the Bible. They also represent history of literature, saints and patrons. Symbolic motifs are also depicted in some cases. Themes can be etched on stained glass windows. Stained glass windows are often customized for the location and occasion. For example, stained glass windows present in churches depict the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, those found in parliaments show shields of various constituencies in the country and those found in universities depict arts and sciences.

Stained glass has been one of the most creative ways of expressing art. In fact, many tourist places have become attractions only because of the stained glass windows. Stained glass will always take its place besides other arts like paintings and literature.