This is the process I use for making stained glass
pieces; most hobbyists probably do essentially the same thing; professionals.......maybe not. To start with, you need a FULL-SIZE pattern...from a picture you've taken or drawn, a pattern you've purchased or something you've downloaded.
I use a free poster-making program http://the-big-picture.en.softonic.com/
which is simple to use and works great. It prints portions of the picture on 8.5 x 11 paper (I use cheap photo paper) which you then tape together; it will make as large a poster/pattern as you desire. The pattern is cut into individual pieces using pattern scissors which remove a thin strip of paper. The strip must be removed to correspond with space that the foil will take up; without doing so, your piece will 'grow' and become distorted.
You should have determined the colors of glass
you need for the various pieces; place the 1st piece of your pattern on the glass
, trace around it with a pencil (I use Sharpies) that will show on the glass
(you'll need different colors for different colored glass
Take the glass
cutter and score the glass
, following the INSIDE of the mark. A cheap hardware store cutter will work in the short term; you'll eventually want a better one. Do NOT re-score the glass
; there's a temptation to follow the score line again; it will ruin your cutter.
Your score line should be .......barely........visible.
Break the piece along the score line, using your hands, the edge of your table, etc. I break probably 99% of my pieces using a pair of 'running' pliers.
The edges of the glass
need to be smoothed using a pair of grozing pliers
or a grinder made for the purpose.
The edge of each piece is then foiled
and the foil burnished (pressed against the glass
on all 3 sides, a piece of wooden dowel will work)
Cut and foil all the pieces and fit them together (it helps to have an additional picture or pattern; without it, it's like working a jigsaw puzzle)
You'd like the pieces to fit together perfectly so all the solder lines are uniform; they won't be! You'll need push pins or tacks to hold the piece in place as you begin to solder. Flux a few lines (liquid flux) and begin soldering (solid core solder). When you've soldered all the lines, CAREFULLY turn the piece over and solder the back side. For added strength, I wrap the outside of the piece with "C" channel came and solder it wherever the solder lines come to the outside of the piece.
You'll need something to hang the piece with (usually 2 hangers); I use 14 gauge copper wire bent into a shape that fits the piece I'm working on.
I cover all solder lines with a liquid patina which instantly changes the lead/silver color to black for the contrast it provides to the glass
. Nature will eventually do the essentially the same thing over the course of several months. You can see the difference the patina makes.
After the patina dries, the piece will need to be carefully washed; there will be visible flux and patina on it. Voila........you're through. I often make multiple copies of the same piece.....using different colored glass
. I've never really clocked the time it takes to make something like the red bird; it depends on the number of individual pieces of glass
and how complicated the pieces are (tight inside curves are the most trouble). The redbird has 75 pieces and I would guess takes about 20 hours. I usually work 3 or 4 hours at a time. The final picture, a Celtic Knot, took about 3 hours.