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Giving Light Life - How to Make Stained Glass Windows

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Welcome to the Associated Crafts / Willet Hauser blog, a new venture on our site to provide even more content and information for readers, prospective clients, or those looking to find a career in making, repairing, and conserving architectural stained glass. This blog, in particular, is made for that last group, the curious men and women who want to understand and learn to put together those intricate puzzles of glass and light - or put simply, how to make stained glass. It’s ancient labor, with many different techniques and technologies developed as time has passed.

How to Make Stained Glass

Design

The first stage of any stained-glass project is the design. First, the artists will reach out to the owners or architect of the building to find out the measurements for the window opening. This will create the literal framework for the design.

With that guideline in place, the artist can begin crafting the design. Taking inspiration from the location or the desires of the building owner, and the artist will draft a design to fit. Whether it features imagery from the Book of Genesis or a secular piece, the artist has to have a sure hand when it comes to art.

The design will have all of the images in place, yes, but also shows the lead that holds that glass in place. This is critical as the lead is a part of a carefully constructed visual effect with the colored glass and painted designs.

Once the design draft has been completed, a smaller version is prepared for patron approval, sometimes with a miniature scaled version of the window to show off just how the glass will look with light shining through.

Glass Choice

Following the design, it’s time for the artisan to choose the pieces of glass to use. Every single piece is selected based on the color needed for the design, these pieces act as a sort base layer of color. These pieces are then cut and finely finished to fit the design by grozing the edges.

Detail Work

Once the colors of glass are selected and shaped, the details are painted onto the surface. The specialized glass paint is made up of finely ground copper or lead fillings, gum Arabic, ground glass, and medium. The exact method of painting has changed over the centuries, but the goal remains the same - to produce a beautiful image that let’s light shine through it, accenting the image brilliantly.

Fitting it All Together

Now that the design is planned out, the glass has been selected and cut, and the details painted, it’s time to put all those pieces together! Using lead cames (those lines between the different colored glass) the glass is fit tightly using a soft cement or putty before being soldered. Now the only thing left to do is secure it in place in the building!

To say we are oversimplifying the process is putting it lightly. Our artisans have spent years honing their craft, learning the skills, putting in their 10,000 hours to master how to make stained glass. If you are interested in working with Associated Crafts / Willet Hauser head over to our Career Opportunities page and find out more!

If you found yourself searching the term ‘how to make stained glass windows’ because you’re actually looking to get one made for your building, church, or what have you - well you came to the right place too! Our studio provides a wide range of services from rejuvenation to renovation with over a century of experience! Contact us, fill out our no-risk appraisal and see what Associated Crafts and Willet Hauser can do for you.