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Glass Class

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Hey, Stained Artists!

People have been working with the craft of stained glass for more than a thousand years. More than any other application—and almost exclusively—stained glass is found in the beautiful windows of churches, cathedrals, and other places of worship. We’ve all seen this unique art form and who hasn’t been held a little bit spellbound by the fascinating work of stained glass?

Creating a work of art through the stained glass medium is quite the process. Check out the steps to making a panel of stained glass. 

The Stained Glass Cartoon
To start out, you’ll want to draw out your design on paper. In the stained glass business, this paper template is referred to as a ‘Cartoon’. This is helpful in designating the outline of the lead around each cut of glass as well as mapping out the colors and details when the time comes for painting.

Cutting Glass
Assuming you’re working with pre-stained glass, pick out the right piece for the desired color and texture. Use the cartoon under the glass to cut the glass to the proper shape and size.

Dabbing on the Details
Mark your outlines on the glass before you start adding any details. You can use a technique called Matting to shade the glass with your paint using a wide brush. Dabbing at the paint to create texture is a technique called Stippling. You can also create fine detail by carefully scraping the paint with a needle.

Kiln o’ Clock
Now comes the time for the paint to be hardened and fixed. This happens in a kiln where the extraordinary degrees can be safely reached.

Lead the Way
Now it’s finally time to lay your individual glass pieces in their proper spots according to your cartoon. The lead is cut and shaped appropriately and then joined on the front and back of your panel using a soldering iron. Your artwork is now crafted into a single solid panel.

The Finishing Touches
A glazing cement gets applied and scrubbed into any gaps between the glass and the lead. Then you a chalk mixture called ‘whiting’ is spread over your panel to help the cement harden. The excess whiting is eventually brushed off and cleaned up.

If you’d like to learn the process then I recommend you look into a summer camp that offers it as an activity to boost your familiarity with the art form. If you already have a camp in mind, call them up to ask about their program. And, as always, thanks for reading, Camp Fans!


- John


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