Every stained glass instructor is different, but the things you will learn from someone who has already been through the frustrations of learning the art of stained glass are invaluable. Learning in a stained glass class will save you a lot of time and grief that you would encounter if you were self-taught. You will learn the basic techniques for scoring, breaking, grinding and leading stained glass. You will also learn about the basic tools necessary to complete a stained glass project.
In your stained glass class, you will learn how to select stained glass for your projects. You will learn about different types, textures and colors of stained glass and how to optimize the use of colors in your design.
You might not create your own design for your first project. You will probably do a simple stained glass suncatcher from a pattern. Depending on the length of your stained glass class, you might also make a small stained glass panel.
You will begin by choosing glass for your stained glass project. You will learn the appropriate way to hold a scoring tool and then how to break the scored glass with your hands, groziers, or running pliers (for straight lines). You’ll be taught that scoring is done on the smoother side of the stained glass.
To successfully break the stained glass, you will learn how to score straight lines, inside curves and outside curves. Your experienced teacher will be able to show you tricks that will make these easier to do and which tools work best. He/she should have different styles of tools for you to try out so that you can choose what works best for you.
You will also learn how to use a glass grinder so that you can smooth the edges of the stained glass and make adjustments so that the pieces will fit the stained glass design. As you lay the pieces of glass on the pattern, you must leave just enough space between them to make up for the thickness of the lead came or copper foil that will be wrapped around them.
You will either learn the copper foil method of stained glass or the lead came method. You will learn how to wrap and burnish the stained glass edges with copper foil. Be patient, this will take practice. You will learn how to assemble your stained glass project using lead channels. You will learn how to use cutting tools in order for you to cut and fit the came so that your stained glass project will have smooth lines and joints.
You’ll be shown different tools for wrapping foil; or, you might prefer to wrap by hand. Various burnishing tools are available. Try out different tools.
For the copper foil stained glass project, you will use flux to prepare the foil for applying solder to it. You will learn how to use a soldering iron and how to “tin” the foil by applying a flat coat of solder to all surfaces of the foil. Next, you will go back over it and apply a smooth, raised “bead” line.
In the lead came project you will learn how to solder the joints and fill the gap between the glass and lead with “putty.” The next step you will learn is how to add a patina which will turn the solder black and makes the colors of the stained glass pop out.
After you have framed the project, finally, you will learn how to clean and polish your completed stained glass panel.