Learning how to make stained glass was something I chose to do because I needed a hobby and actually wanted to make a business out of it. People seemed to like my early designs that were not even great yet, so I thought what the heck, let’s sell my stained glass art.
Then came the idea of how to just get started. As with anything in life, starting something new brings along a learning curve. In learning how to make stained glass that learning curve can be expensive, a safety issue, and frustrating. Of course, I taught myself from a book, which was a huge challenge.
Before I knew it I was quickly learning how to make stained glass from an idea. The rewards of the finished product were exhilarating and as I honed my skills, people were asking for more!
So, enough about me, how can you learn how to make stained glass? Below are some steps you will need to take in order to get started.
Cutting tools you’ll need – If you really want this to be fun, you need to learn how to cut the glass. I cut myself like crazy at first (because nobody showed me the techniques). Start out with what most stained glass artists use — a good quality glass-cutter with an oil reservoir. You’ll also need grozing pliers, breaking pliers, some cutting oil, some scrap window glass and a box of Band-Aids.
You can find everything you need at a local hobby shop, glass shop, or you can do what we do and buy online (much cheaper). You could also search for used tools from people who have given up learning how to make stained glass.
Big safety tip – You must wear glasses. Don’t take the chance of having glass shoot into your eyes. This hobby is meant to be fun, not a hazard.
The glass-cutter doesn’t actually cut glass. It is like the movies where burglars draw a line in the window they are breaking into. Then they tap it or nudge it to break along that line.
There are ways to hold the cutters and certain things you can use (like oil) to ensure that your cuts are accurate and safe.
Scoring – The next step in learning how to make stained glass is scoring. Try to keep the cutter perpendicular to the glass. Don’t let it tilt left or right, forward or back. You will want to find a technique that works for you. This takes a bit of touch and there is a right way and wrong way to score.
Tip: Pressure is up to you. Look for a glass that breaks nicely. Ask when you are picking up your glass that you need something for a beginner.
Tip: never score the same place twice. You will not get the result you want and you can ruin your cutter this way. If you’re getting a good score, you’ll usually hear a slight sizzling sound.
Breaking the glass – Now, grip the side of the score you want to preserve with the breaking pliers and grip the part that you’ll discard with the grozing pliers. Some people pull apart the glass and some people bend it to break. Whichever way works for you is what you go with.
Again this goes back to feel and touch. Dealing with glass is an art (hence the term stained glass art) and once you figure out how to work with the glass, things will get more fun as we go.
Finally, have your shop set up – Make sure you have a good-sized workspace to work in and a waste-basket set up close. Learning how to make stained glass can get messy and crazy!
This is just a start in learning how to make stained glass. There are many books and courses written on this subject. We will certainly provide more steps soon as there is too much to cover in one article.