Glass By Barb

Deciding on a Design

The design is the starting point for all projects. Considerations are the location or area to be showcased, the size and shape of the window or hanging, the flow of lines, colour preferences, and whether or not reinforcement is required. And, of course, it should be visually appealing.

Design for a livingroom transom.

  • Victorian entry door window with clear, textured glass.

Selecting Glass

An artist has a wide variety of glass colours and textures from which to choose, including bevels and bevel clusters. Striking and classy, bevels are a great choice when elegance is the goal.

Is the design intended to complement a specific colour palette, or does it need to provide the option of looking great no matter what direction an interior designer takes? If the latter, consider clear glass with different textures.

Another quality of glass to be considered is clarity. Is privacy a consideration? If so, to what extent?

Colour, clarity and texture can all be used to direct the eye to portions of a design. Texture is particularly important when only clear glass is used; the heavier the texture, the more attention that piece of glass gets. Textural variations also add visual interest to a project.

The beauty of any stained glass window is best showcased by natural light.

Cutting Glass

Individual glass pieces for lead came projects are cut with 1/16" space between them to allow for the "heart" of the lead came (the connecting piece between the visible front and back faces of the lead). The space allowed between pieces of glass for copper foil projects is 1/32".

Glass is cut by breaking its surface tension with a "score" — essentially a deep scratch — and then separating it along that score. The score must be continuous, and it must be exactly where the desired edge is to be. If it's a straight line, a single score will do. If the pattern calls for a curve, additional scores must be made, taking care not to cross the primary line. In this way, smaller pieces of glass can be broken away, one at a time, until the curve is revealed.

  • Patterns on glass with glass cutter.
  • Closeup of grinding glass.

Grinding Glass

Edges of the cut glass pieces are touched up with a grinder. This removes any jagged points and improves the fit, avoiding future stress breaks.

Additional touch-up grinding is required as a project is fitted together, as infinitessimal shifts and irregularities in glass edges cause changes in alignment.

What is "Art" Glass?

Stained glass artisans use this term loosely to refer to hand-rolled, Tiffany reproduction glass (so called because its goal is to mimic the glass made and used by Louis Comfort Tiffany of Tiffany lamp and window fame). Youghiogheny is an example of this type of glass. Youghiogheny stipple glass offers an ice-like, waxy translucent quality, giving a three-dimensional effect when other colors are streaked through it.

In addition to being very beautiful, art glass tends to have an "organic" look and soft tones. The optical effects and colour of art glass change in relation to the direction and quality of the light source. When in direct sunlight, the glass captures and diffuses the light within itself, making it appear to glow.

  • Closeup of Youghiogheny glass.