In the fall of 1998 I decided that I needed yet another hobby
for my artistic side to express itself, so I took up Stained
Glass. I got a few books and looked up things on the internet
then went straight to the glass store to get some supplies.
After looking at the myriad types of glass available, I decided
on a pattern and bought what I needed (actually, much
more than I needed, but who knew!).
Here's a brief description of the process:
After cutting the glass pieces to fit the pattern,
I assemble the pieces using the 'Tiffany method' with copper
foil and solder. For all my pieces I use adhesive-backed copper
foil to wrap the edges of the glass pieces rather than trying
to fit them into lead cames (this makes it easier
to produce more intricate designs). After soldering everything
together on both the front and back (getting the solder to
'look right' is the most difficult part), I generally apply
a chemical patina to the solder to change its colour
(usually black; it's just an acid that oxidizes the solder)
then I finish the pieces with a stained glass finishing
compound (a liquid car wax would do the same thing).
I typically hang the pieces from suction cups either with
an attached chain or with 12 lb test fishing line through
a small loop of copper wire soldered into a seam.
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This was my very first stained glass project. I created
this 9.5 inch clock without the
use of a grinder (just a glass cutter and a pair of pliers!),
so it took me quite a long time to complete. My wife didn't
know if I would be successful with this hobby, but after seeing
it completed, she bought me a glass grinder for Christmas
'98 - it makes my life a lot easier. I can now make pieces
to virtually any size and shape that I need (whether I
actually do this is usually a matter of how lazy I am...).
I decided to use opaque glass in the clock since it was going
to be hung against a wall and was only going to be lit from
the front. I had trouble finding clock hands that worked well
with the colour scheme yet could still be seen from a reasonable
distance (the solder lines made it difficult to see), so I
ended up painting some brass hands with a pearl white craft
paint. I gave this clock to my mother-in-law as a gift for
These next two pieces with hummingbirds were also some of
my early projects. The small bird on the left is only about
3 inches tall and its five pieces can easily be cut and assembled
in an hour. I have made a few of these with variations in
the glass (e.g. with iridescent green for the back of the
head and tail). I use a piece of copper wire for the beak
and grind a small notch in the glass for the eye (filled with
solder). The circular panel (7 inches wide) was given to my
mother as a gift.
These three geometric designs were created by myself with
lots of inspiration from stained glass design books. The purple
star uses 'wavy' clear glass and was originally going to be
part of a larger panel. I liked it as it was before I put
any border pieces on, so I stopped there. Unfortunately, I
only had 'copper-backed' foil to use, so the copper colour
shows through the clear glass when examined closely. For the
other two panels above, I used different colours of foil (black
and silver, respectively) to match the final colour of the
solder (the blue green panel has 'natural solder' but it looks
somewhat like pewter when it is back-lit; I have since changed
its solder colour to black). I soon discovered that I liked
using beveled glass (bevels are relatively cheap
and add a nice sparkle to the panels) and have incorporated
them into many projects since then. I usually buy a bunch
of 'bevels' as I see them in the store and only later decide
how to use them. The gold and red panel is 5 inches square
and the blue/green panel is 9 inches square.
The tulip above was made as a quick project and it is about
6.5 inches tall. I used cranberry glass that had some variation
in its colour for the petals (it was expensive, but I only
bought a small chunk of it). The hummingbird feeder next to
it was sort of a joke piece. I decided that a solitary 3 inch
hummingbird looked too lonely in a large window, so I needed
to make a coordinating item. I thought that a flower was a
bit predictable for me (if you know me, you'll understand...)
so I decided on something a little different. Since most stained
glass projects are a representation of the real world, I thought
that I might as well show what most people see when they catch
a glimpse of a live hummingbird. As a hummingbird feeder is
puportedly designed to look similar to a flower (in order
to attract the birds in the first place) this piece is a '
representation of a representation
' of reality, if you will. I patterned it after my
neighbour's feeder (I can see it from my back window). Although
the photo doesn't show it well, I used some wavy clear glass
and another one of my scraps of cranberry glass (yes, I'm
cheap!) in this piece. The scale of the feeder is just about
right next to the small hummingbird.
In June 99 I decided that the post lamp in our front yard
was looking too ugly to ignore and that it needed some replacement
glass (the sandblasted glass pieces in the fixture had been
broken for years). Since I am not someone for doing things
normally, I bought some beveled glass and created a pattern
to fit (all four sides are the same). Since Wendy didn't really
want colour (and neither did I) and we both didn't like completely
clear glass (boring! ) I found a nice glue chip
beveled glass. (Glue chip glass is prepared by coating
a piece of glass with a special type of glue and allowing
it to dry. In the process of drying, the glue 'chips' the
surface of the glass to create a somewhat opaque feathery
pattern. The pattern created is dependent on the glue composition,
as well as the speed and temperature of drying, among other
things.) I was able to find beveled glass pieces that had
a similar glue chip pattern in the centre. The most difficult
part of this project was fitting everything into the lamp
housing. I guess it has been bent out of shape over the years.
I ended up re-cutting each of the four panels several times
to make them fit. The individual panels are about 7 inches
tall and 9 inches wide at the top.
My first 3-D project (actually, my first successful
3-D project - ask Wendy...) was made as a gift for my mother.
She was interested in a stained glass box, so I made her one
with white, rose, and green glass. It is about 8 by 6 by 3
inches and stands on commercially available metal feet.
After the Rose box, I decided to try another 3-D item, something
I saw at a craft show and thought would be easy to make (I
made a quick drawing while at the show to make sure that I
got it right). I went to a stained glass store and bought
12 identical 6" shield bevels (beveled glass pieces that
look like a square with one extended corner). I wrapped these
in foil and soldered them together to make a Star. This one
is 12" in height, so it is pretty large. I have it hanging
in my front window to catch the light. Click here
to view the instructions on how to build a 3-D Star (15kb,
After seeing some stained glass birds at a different craft
sale (believe me, I really don't go to that many of them,
it was just a fluke!) I decided to make some of my own. I
made this Chickadee on a branch and incorporated some red
glass 'globs'. I gave this one to some friends as a housewarming
gift at the end of October 99.
I realized that I had too many bevels piling up on my light
table, so I decided to make a few quick projects. The first,
below, is a simple geometric design with 3 shades of purple
and 4 corner bevels. I used silver-backed foil and left the
solder untreated - I don't really like the silver colour too
much (and Wendy quite rightly points out that the edges are
not even - I have since refinished the edges to make them
look better). The next is an abstract flower design using
(wait for it...) more pieces of my cranberry glass (I originally
bought one 6"x8" piece, but it has gone a long way!)
and 4 star bevels. These bevels are actually 2" square
bevels that have been ground down on their edges (I bet that
they are the 'factory seconds' and this is a smart way of
making money from them). I really liked the result with black
patina and black-backed foil. I gave this as a gift at Christmas
As with many people who do stained glass, I eventually decided
to get into mosaic work I bought some white Mosaic stone cement
powder and used the lids from disposable Petri dishes for
moulds. I started with a simple design and a limited colour
scheme, and put together a set of 4. With all the extra cut
pieces (and extra cement) I made four more coasters.
Adam was also eager to make coasters with the cement that
I mixed up, he made some and decorated them with pencil crayons
once they were dry. He doesn't use them, but he also refuses
to give them away.
After my success with the large beveled glass 3-D star, I
wanted to make the same pattern (but much smaller) with coloured
glass. For these 'suncatchers with a difference', I cut 12
identical pieces and put them together (the base of each piece
must be a right angle or it won't work - the point
can be any size you want). I started by making a 7" Red
Star, and following that, I made an even smaller version (4.75")
in both pink and purple. All of the stars have been given
away as gifts. Click here
to view the instructions on how to build a 3-D Star (15kb,
While cutting out the pieces for the 3-D stars above, I serendipitously
put a number of the pieces together on my workbench and was
please with the pattern it made. I quickly drew a sketch and
later decided to recreate the effect. I took two 5" circular
pieces of glass (one pink, the other clear glue chip) and
made the equivalent of 5 cuts on each. After trimming the
edges, I interchanged the colours and made two identical items.
Adam thinks they look like snowflakes.
Just for fun, I decided to make a tropical fish in March
2000. Using black and yellow (opaque) glass, I created this
4 inch fish. I think I may add others to the school in the
future and perhaps make my own aquarium scene.
I started cuuting glass for a major project commissioned
by Wendy's Aunt and Uncle in May. I designed a set of two
panels that follow the colours and style of a Peruvian carpet
hanging above their stairwell. This project is most definitely
the largest I have attempted - each panel is 9"x30"
and will freely hang in paired windows of their living room.
In total, there are 636 pieces to put together! See
below for the completed panels.
Before I started cutting the pieces for the large project
described above, I needed to get back into the stained glass
groove after not having made anything since March. One Saturday
when Adam and I were at the stained glass store, we came across
a piece of clear glass covered with bumps or "bubbles".
We both really liked it, so I bought a piece without knowing
exactly what I would do with it. I also found a great piece
of blue antique glass and started to get an idea for a simple
abstract pattern with curves. I picked up a piece of the bubble
glass, randomly cut a lazy S curve into it, and then took
some of the blue and cut it to fit. After adding a few more
colours, I ended up with a design that I was comfortable with,
so I soldered it together using silver backed foil and zinc
channel (around the edges). I showed it to Adam and he liked
it much better when I held it horizontally as a 'landscape'
rather than as a vertical portrait. I agreed and decided that
it looked like an abstract landscape with a hint of water
and waves. I know, that's stretching it a bit, but hey - this
I have done a few more small pieces as gifts since then.
One is a candle holder made with bevels and a few pieces of
red and gold glass. I think it looks like a crown. The next
is another (somewhat more successful?) attempt at making chickadees
on a branch. It is a little better constructed than my earlier
attempt and it is in a more vertical orientation. I gave this
one to my mother-in-law for Christmas since she liked my earlier
version. My son, Adam, also made a stained glass piece - a
picture of his brother. He has since made another composition
of scrap pieces of my glass.
Just before Christmas 2000, I started making a few 3-dimensional
projects again. I put together bevels with a few other pieces
of glass and mirror to make small candle holders. These three
images show some of the pieces that I have given away.
finally finished the monster commissioned
stained glass project!!!
It took over two years, but the 636 pieces
of glass came together nicely in the summer of 2001 and
I installed it for the customer (Wendy's Aunt and Uncle).
Click here or on the picture
to see a few images of the panel with closeups.
After a short break I decided to make a quick project with
some of the small leftover pieces of glass from the large
panels (above). In a design quite similar to what Adam created,
I made 3 separate panels that look like patchwork quilts and
mounted them together to make a triangular chimney lamp. A
piece of red oak was used as a base and I wired up a 60 watt
chandelier bulb with an inline 2-position dimmer switch. I'm
not certain what I'll do with it, but I like the final results.
I went back to making more of those 3-d stars,
this time even smaller and with glue chip glass and another
with red glass (about 2.5 or 3 inches tall). Click here
to view the instructions on how to build a 3-D Star (15kb,
.I must have noticed that I had a lot of bevels
piling up in my workshop since I made several small projects
in a row with them. The first two were simple panels with
gold glass, red globs, and clear bevels. I gave one away and
kept the other since they turned out very well.
I put together another 3-D project similar to
the candle holders above, and this one I gave away to potentially
be used as a paperclip holder. The deep purple glass glows
nicely when the light refracts through the bevels and bounces
off the mirrored bottom. I also had a number of 'globs' to
get rid of, so I assembled 8 of them with 4 small bevels to
create a globe or ball that sparkles when it spins in the
sunlight. I have no idea what to do with it (perhaps hang
it from a rear view mirror?), but I like the result.
My mother gave me a stained glass design book
for my birthday, so I decided to make one of the projects
and send it back for her birthday. It is a fall coloured maple
leaf that hangs upside down and is about 6 inches tall. I
used Yogi glass that I bought especially for this project
(unusual for me - I usually buy glass and later decide what
to do with it). This glass is hard to cut, but with some grinding,
it wasn't too difficult to complete. I think it turned out
well, and I have had a number of requests to make more.
Since I felt I hadn't done many pieces for along
while (April to July 2003), I decided to make some small ones
to get back into doing glass. For my mother's birthday, I
made a small sunflowerto go with her kitchen theme and a small
abstract bevel piece that incorporated a test-tube that could
be used for rooting plant cuttings.
After another long break (until late January
2004), I wanted to bring a small gift to a Chinese New year/Spring
Festival Party at a neighbour's house. I put together a couple
of these panels (the character means Eternity or Forever)
and I kept one for myself.
For a long while I had wanted to make this pattern
with bamboo. I finally found the time and made this wall-hanging
panel for my mother.
I had purchased the fitting to make a lamp many
months ago and had never gotten around to making the lamp.
I originally wanted to make three panels of the bamboo pattern
(above) but I really didn't like the colour of the glass with
an incandescent bulb behind it (too yellow). Instead, I found
some interesting glass in my cupboard that I hadn't used much,
and decided to make a lamp. I didn't have a pattern in mind
- I just let it develop as I cut pieces. To make things sparkle
more, I added some small beveled clear glass pieces that I
had found at a dollar store (I think they were about 25 pieces
for a dollar).
After quite a long
time of doing no stained glass
(yes, sometimes I am too busy or
too tired to do glass work...),
I got back into things and made
a number of small projects to give
away as gifts. The first was my
own version of a stained glass
Inukshuk that we bought on a trip
to Newfoundland - it used a bunch
of glass scraps. I made another
glass maple leaf (it seems to be
popular - this one was a darker
orange than my first) and have
plans to make more of these in
varying colours. They are fairly
quick to make (about 1 hr) and
I now simply work with a single
piece of glass in the shape of
the leaf outline then I cut all
the vein lines and put the pieces
back together after foiling them.
This avoids the extensive grinding
and fitting that I had to do with
my first leaf.
I made a pencil holder
as a small retirement gift for
a colleague but decided to make
my life difficult by using several
inside corner cuts - try this
with glass yourself and you will
see how difficult it can be! I
did most of the shaping with the
glass cutter but used my grinder
to finish off the inside corner.
I made a concerted
effort in January 2007 to get some
small pieces ready for family gifts
before I went on a short trip to
Manitoba, all of which took only
an hour or two to make. I like
the second version of the Inukshuk
better - I still used scrap
pieces to make it, but was more
somewhat more selective in my colour
had a pile of dichroic bevels sitting
in a drawer (they transmit yellow
light but will reflect violet light)
and finally decided to put them
together in a panel with more clear
glass and standard bevels. It worked
well and will benefit from being
in a very sunny window. I've done
chickadee patterns before, but
this one was a little simpler to
make and the green leaf and red
globs adds an almost Christmas
theme to the project.
Since I held a 1-year
research fellowship from the Canadian
Breast Cancer Foundation - Ontario
Chapter in my 'day job', I decided
to make a breast cancer
pink ribbon with some
extra glass that I pulled out while
making the last few projects above.
It was very simple to make and
I think it adds a nice touch to
my office at the Cancer Centre.
After a VERY long hiatus from doing stained glass (almost 3 years!) due to the minor details of life getting in the way (being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, completing a Ph.D., learning to fly airplanes, starting a major renovation of our house, etc. - you know, all the normal things...), I finally did another stained glass piece. My first stained glass of 2010 was a piece needed for our new master bedroom and ensuite addition. We have two windows that just didn't seem to be the type for blinds, so we decided stained glass would be the best way to finish them. The panel below is in our bathroom and it matches very well with the colour scheme and theme of the room (white, green, glass, grey). The clear glass matches almost perfectly the acrylic in the blinds we have used on another window in the bathroom. The panel itself is about 15 inches by 25 inches and is finished with zinc came around the edges.
Below is the stained glass panel for the window in our new master bedroom that faces towards the east. Since this window gets full sun every morning, I decided to make a sunrise with lots of bevels and sparkle around it. The panel is almost the same size as the one above (slightly larger) and it is finished with zinc capping and a black patina on the solder lines.