Stained Glass Monster!

I just finished up an eight-week intro to stained glass class at Urban Glass in Brooklyn. My teacher was super awesome, she does this stuff for a living and was really great at teaching. Our one project was a 12 x 16 in panel that we designed ourselves and could have up to 25 pieces of glass. I went a little over the piece limit when I came up with my monster, but I was still able to finish him in time. Here is a little bit of the process:

First I went through all of the glass they had for us to work with and picked out all of the coolest stuff I could get my hands on.

Then, keeping in mind what colors I had to work with, I drew the pattern and made three copies.

The pieces are each given a number, and all of the copies of the design are numbered identically. Then the first copy gets cut with pattern scissors. They have three blades—one on top and two on the bottom. They create space in between all of the pieces where the lead will go.

Then a pattern that is not cut up is tacked to a work board {and the third pattern is set aside as a spare}. The cut pieces are tacked on to top of that to keep track of them.

Then comes glass cutting! You hold the pattern piece down on the glass with one hand, and score the glass with the other. Once you've scored a side, you break it off with pliers. Then you do a second side, and then the third, etc, until you've got the whole piece cut out. If it's not perfectly inside the pattern, you grind the extra bits off. If it's too small inside the pattern, you cut it again. We started with the pieces that were easiest, so by the time we got to the hard ones we were more used to cutting.

The hardest ones were most definitely the yellows of the eyes. Interior circles are brutal! And these were small on top of it. The red handled tool is the grinder, and the black handled tool is the breaker.

Then comes leading. You nail down small pieces of wood at a right angle for a corner to build off of. Then you cut the lead to the lengths you need, working out. Glass is held in place with nails designed for this sort of thing.

The best part is the awesome looking knife you get to use to mark, cut, and shape the lead to the glass.

This is what the lead actually looks like {these are scraps}. It's got a little track that the glass sits in.

I don't have pictures of the rest of the process, but I will sum it up.
The next step is soldering. You clean off all of the joints with a wire brush. Then you spread on them this liquid called "flux," which helps the solder melt smoothly. Then you have your solder in one hand {which comes as a thick wire} and the soldering iron in the other {which looks like a metal version of a marker.} You use the iron to melt off bits of solder on the joints, and then mush it around until it's as smooth as you can get it. After you have done all of the joints on both sides, you cement. Because the track in the lead is bigger than the glass, the whole thing is pretty wobbly. You shove cement putty along all of the lead lines so the glass sits snugly inside the lead. After you've scraped off all of your excess cement putty, you use a special powder cleaning agent and brushes to scrub down the whole piece. The last step is a natural hair brush that turns the lead from shiny silver to black.

And then he's done! Here is a shot of what he looks like with light through him. I have almost no natural sunlight in my apartment, so I designed him to look good without light. But I do enjoy the way the yellows of his eyes glow when he does get some.


  1. That last picture is definitely my favorite

  2. Great job!
    Yes, I would like to see the entire project transilluminated. No colors quite like transilluminated stained glass, even when a light box is used.