The term "stained glass" dates back well over a thousand years: silver stain was often applied to the side of window panes that would face to the outside. after firing the glass, the stain turned yellow. Many medieval and renaissance stained glass panels also have details that were painted with black or brown vitreous paint (containing glass powder). Nowadays, "stained glass" refers to all glass that has been colored during its manufacture, with metallic salts and other ingredients. The term also refers to objects made with pieces of such glass. For instance, ornamental and pictorial window panes, lamp shades, and kaleidoscopes. The pieces of glass are traditionally held together with strips of lead cane (a.k.a. "channel"). It has an H-shaped cross-section. In smaller projects, adhesive copper foil is used (the seams between the foiled pieces are soldered). In 1995, I took a "stained glass" course at a local community college, while living in Margate, Florida.

Getting started with stained glass is not complicated or expensive. The following tools are a required: a glass cutter (with a steel or tungsten carbide wheel) for scoring glass, cutting oil, special pliers ("grozer" pliers for braking glass and nipping off small pieces) and "running" pliers with a slight V-shape, to snap long cuts), a glass grinder (as a minimum a carborundum stone; much better: an electric grinder, or both), copper foil, a heavy soldering iron, solder, soldering flux, safety glasses, and safety gloves.


My first real project was the "graduation" project at the end of the class that I took. Not surprisingly, I came up with an aviation theme:

Aviator glass panel - idea

The idea

Aviator glass panel - design

The design - about 70 pieces

Aviator - glass panel

My finished "Aviator" panel (size: 53x41 cm, 21x16 inch)


I made did my second project during the winter of 1995/96. I like geometric patterns. So rather than conjuring up something artsy, my second project was a classic geometric pattern. I used special hand-rolled raspberry-red glass (made with gold), from the famous Bullseye Glass Co. The other pieces are off-the-shelf beveled squares. The panel measures 75x100 cm (30x40 inch), and comprises 303 pieces (I think).

Geometric glass panel - red & blue

Close-up of "Red Geometrix" (1996) and "Blue Weave" (2002)

When I moved to France in 2001, I took my glass-making supplies with me. I decided to make another geometric pattern, this time a blue one. The colored glass is "Rough Rolled Dark Blue" (SP RR136) from the Spectrum Glass Co. Again, the clear glass pieces are beveled squares. This panel has the same size as the red panel. It weights 8.4 kg (18.5 lbs). The patter looks like a close-up of loosely woven blue thread, hence the name of the piece.

Geometric glass panel - suspended

"Red geometrix" - suspended from the ceiling in the house we had near Seattle

Geometric glass panels

Both panels - in my previous apartment in Toulouse/France

One of these days, I will have to make another panel - also a geometric pattern, and a primary color (medium-dark green).


This is one of my favorite stained glass panels:

Bijenkorf glass panels

Panel in the staircase of the "Bijenkorf" department store building in The Hague, The Netherlands

(this large panel (ca. 3 m / 10 ft wide) was created in 1926 by Leo Visser of the "Amsterdamse School" art movement)


External links last checked: October 2015

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