Learn about stained glass with these focused and clear descriptions of process and method. I discuss both fused and foiled glass, bringing to light the experience I have gained working in the field for over a decade.
I also go over the process that goes into creating various types of pieces. From the conception of the idea all the way to creation of the final piece. This isn’t an exhaustive work by any means but should be helpful to people who are new to the field. Topics range from jump-starting your creative process, to dealing with ideas that just don’t work.
What is foiled glass?
When most people think of stained glass this is the type that their mind’s eye shows them. The traditional glass panels with lead (or a modern alloy) lining each piece. The shapes of the panel and pieces can vary greatly. The real reason behind the name is the way in which the piece itself is made. It doesn’t matter if the final output is a lamp or a piece of window art. The end result is still foiled glass.
The reason this is called foiled glass is that each glass shape is edged with adhesive backed copper foil before the solder is applied. You can do this by hand or with the use of this handy dandy foiling tool. I like it when things are named for what they do. In this case, a foiling machine applied foil to an edge, smoothly and evenly as you run the edge through the wheel.
The next step is to smoothly apply a solder bead to two pieces of glass to join them together. Yes, there are a lot of steps that go into making a beautiful finished stained glass piece both before and after these stages but for now, we are sticking with the basics.
Repeat steps one and two for all the pieces in your design, and voila! a brand new bit of art has entered the world.
What is fused glass?
From time to time we get asked about some of the terms and techniques used to create the works you see on my site.
This will be an ongoing examination of what these terms mean. Fused glass is a simple concept, it is the melting of different pieces of glass together. There are different levels of melting the glass from a full fuse (complete melding of the pieces) to slumping (bending) Full fusing of glass makes one piece from many (as shown in the pinwheel design above).
Slumping glass is the heating of the glass to a point where it becomes pliable and will bend or slump into a form (see the fluted plates). I’ll be discussing this and go deeper into this subject in future posts.
I hope this helps you start to understand what we mean when we speak of fused glass.