DIY Stained Glass – Choosing a pattern

stained glass diy

Interested in creating your DIY Stained Glass Art?

Well, it is not as difficult, or as expensive as you may think.

The great thing about stained glass is it can be tailored to any skill level and budget.  Beginners can find a multitude of resources from books, to complete starter kits.

As your skills improve, you can find books which have simple patterns and relatively few pieces.  More advanced pattern books have more complex  and interesting designs.

Most experienced stained glass artists design their own patterns which makes the artwork uniquely their own.  For anyone wanting to enter the world of stained glass art, it can be confusing and sometimes overwhelming.  Do not be intimidated.  Getting started is easy, fun and very rewarding.

Several tips and techniques have been included to aid you in getting started.

Take a look and learn how easy it is to create your diy stained glass artwork.  Included in each section is a Step By Step Project Guide that walks through actually creating a diy Stained Glass Panel.

stained glass panel is simply a flat panel that is commonly referred to as a window. The panels can be used as an actual window, decoration sitting on a table, hanging from a well lit window, or just about anywhere your imagination takes you.

Panels take on a variety of sizes and shapes. Some are round and used above doors as decoration and allow light to enter a dark entryway. Others are oval, some are square; the possibilities are endless. Stained glass panels range in size from a few inches to several feet. The larger panels usually have some kind of supporting structure designed in to make the piece more rigid and durable.

Anywhere that there is a lot of light will bring out the beauty of a stained glass panel.  Stained glass panels are a great place to begin when starting out in stained glass art.  They are wonderful for filling rooms with beautiful light and are very rewarding when made by you.

Now the to steps 🙂

Choosing A Pattern

The most important step in starting a diy stained glass project is choosing a pattern.

There are lots of resources available from free patterns online to books with hundreds of copyright free patterns.

I personally like using photographs to create my own patterns.  Photographs offer several advantages over some of the pre-made patterns you will find.

They also have some disadvantages for beginning artists if the picture has a lot of shapes and colors.  You do not have to be a great artist to create a pattern from a photograph.

Check out the section about Creating A Photograph Pattern to learn more.

Keeping it simple for your first few pieces is usually a good idea.  It is easy to get discouraged if a really complicated pattern is chosen and it does not turn out as well as expected.  When thinking about what kind of pattern you would like to try, there are several things to consider:

  1. What is your basic skill level
  2. Who is the intended audience
  3. How much time do you want to spend on the project
  4. How will the final artwork be displayed

What is your basic skill level:

If this is going to be your first attempt at creating diy stained glass art, choosing the correct pattern to match your skill set is important.

For beginners, a pattern with less than 15 pieces is about right to start with.  This will keep the time investment low and allow you to progress through the project and not feel like it is taking forever.

Patterns that have lots of straight lines will be easier than patterns with a lot of curves.

While curvy patterns may look more appealing, they are more difficult to get the glass cut out.  Visit Glass Cutting Techniques to learn more about cutting stained glass.

Many beginner level pattern books have patterns that have been selected for those that are starting to develop their skills.  They contain patterns that have a relatively low number of pieces and straight lines, or have long, smooth, easy to cut curves.

Remember, stained glass is not as difficult as you may think.  It takes both practice and patience.

Keeping your first few projects simple will help you gain confidence in your new skills.

If, for some reason they do not turn out as well as you had hoped, you will not have spent a great deal of time on them.

However, do not get discouraged if your first few are not art gallery caliber, very few first attempts are.

Just keep trying, you will get better!  Below are examples of first attempts.

Notice that the flower has a lot of curves and a couple of complex pieces in the flower base.  This led to all the pieces of glass not fitting together very well and making soldering the project together more complicated.

This also lead to uneven solder lines.  The geometric shape on the right was also a first attempt.  This pattern is all straight lines making cutting the glass easier.  This allowed for all the pieces to fit nicely together and create nice looking and more uniform solder lines.

stained glass diy

stained glass diy

Who is the intended audience:

There are lots of reasons to make stained glass artwork: personal, to give as a gift, sell at craft shows, etc.

While this may seem like a trivial thing the think about before starting your project, it is important to know.

If you are going to make the art for personal display, then anything to your liking can be used.

On the other hand, if you are planning on selling the art work at a craft sale, then patterns should be chosen that will appeal to a large number of people.

Also, if you plan on making several of the same pattern so as you sell one, you can replace it, then a fairly simple design will make the time required to create each one shorter.

Giving stained glass art as a gift to a loved one is very rewarding.  However, you should keep in mind what the recipients likes and dislikes are.

If your friend really enjoys outside fish ponds, you could do a pattern of some Koi fish in a pond.  Knowing your audience will make your diy stained glass more popular and enjoyed by many.

How much time do you want to spend on the project:

Diy Stained glass artwork does require some time investment.  Depending on the type of pattern and its complexity, the time required to finish a project can range from a few hours to a few days.

For beginners, it is usually best to start simple.  This will keep the time investment to a minimum and allow you to gain confidence in your new skills.

As I have mentioned earlier, it is easy to choose a really neat looking pattern that is much too complex for the beginner.

This leads to artwork that does not meet expectations and can be quite discouraging to the artist.

I strongly suggest starting with a few simple patterns before moving on to more complicated pieces.  Another advantage to simple patterns is they do not take as long to do.

This means that you can make several pieces in the same time as a complicated one.  Practice really does make perfect.

The general skills required for making simple patterns are the same for making the complicated patterns.

Simple, quick designs allow you to build your skills faster.  The time investment spent early in the learning process will pay dividends when you start tackling the more intricate patterns later on.

How will the final artwork be displayed:

There are countless ways to display stained glass artwork.

Knowing ahead of time how you intend to display the art will help you choose an appropriate pattern.

Some stained glass panels are framed and hung on the wall, others are  hung in windows to catch the sunlight.

For example, a round pattern might work better as a sun catcher hanging in a window rather than being framed and hung on the wall.

Other patterns might look better in a shadow box than hanging in the window.  It really comes down to personal preference, but keep the end in mind when beginning your project.

Remember, choosing a pattern that matches your skill is very important.  Do not get discouraged if your first piece of art is not up to your standards.

Knowing your audience will make your artwork more enjoyed by everyone.  Stained glass artwork can make a very personal gift that will be cherished for a long time.

Keeping to simple, quick, easy-to-do patterns will allow you to quickly build up not only your skills, but also your confidence.

Leave the more complicated patterns for later.  Always keep the end in mind when choosing a pattern.  You want the display method o complement your work and really make it stand out.

Step-By-Step Project Guide Quick Example:

What is your basic skill level:

I am creating this as though I am new to stained glass art to illustrate the steps in creating a stained glass panel. This means I am going to choose a simple design.

Who is the intended audience:

The intended audience for the finished piece is for personal display.  This means I can choose a design that I am going to like.

How much time do you want to spend on the project:

I would like to spend less than one full day creating this artwork.  This means that there should be a small number of work pieces.

How will the final artwork be displayed:

This project will be framed and set on the coffee able.  This means that the edges do not have to be perfectly aligned since they will be hidden behind the frame.

After answering the above questions, I have selected a pattern that has all straight cuts and 10 pieces.  This will make my time investment fairly low and the straight cuts will make it easier to fit all the pieces together snugly.  Also, because this will be for my personal display, I can choose any color combination that I like.

stained glass diy

Now Let’ check the next guide to Creating A Photograph Pattern.

Creating A Photograph Pattern

If you have searched for patterns at Stained Glass Patterns and cannot find what you are looking for, then creating your own pattern from a photograph is another great option.

Not only does this allow you to create stained glass artwork that is truly unique, but you will have a lot of fun searching through all your pictures.

It can also be a lot of fun walking around with your camera capturing anything and everything you see that might turn into your next piece.

When selecting a photograph, there are a few things to consider if this is your first time.

First, there should not be too much detail in the picture.  Very small pieces are difficult to cut out and soldered together.

Second, there should not be too many colors.  A busy photograph will be more difficult than a simple one.

Third, pictures of people are generally not a good choice as they can be very hard to get looking right.

People’s faces transition from one color to another and from one shape to another so gradually, it can be difficult to choose where the solder lines will go.

Below are three photographs that would make excellent candidates for a pattern.
DIY Stained Glass

DIY Stained Glass

DIY Stained Glass

Once you have a photograph, take a piece of tracing paper, or copy paper and tape it over the picture.

Using a light box that illuminates the picture from the back, or a well lit window, trace the picture onto the paper with a pencil taking as much detail from the photograph as you like.

Remember, try to keep it simple for your first few patterns.  When everything you want is copied onto the tracing or copy paper, remove the photo.

Take a look at your new pattern.  Inspect it for any difficult cuts that will need to be made after being transferred to the glass such as inside corners or very sharp curves.

Use an eraser to edit lines that you feel should be moved or eliminated altogether.  It is your pattern, modify it until you feel it is just right.

The more you do, the better you will get at recognizing difficult cuts and lines that are not quite right.

Another technique that works well is to photocopy the picture in grey scale and use a dark marker to outline everything you like in your pattern.  The dark marker makes it easier to transfer to the glass later on.When trying this technique for the first time, keep it simple.  Pictures with less detail and color will make the process easier.

It can be very easy to get carried away with details when tracing a photograph.  You must be aware that you are going to be cutting each piece out of glass in the next step and do not want something complicated.

Try and remove as much detail as you can but still have the pattern look like what it is supposed to when finished.

Below is an example of a photograph that was turned into a stained glass panel.

Note that not all the details were carried over and the sun was added because the roof of the barn created an inside corner in the skyline making a very difficult cut.

DIY Stained Glass Barn Stained Glass Panel

Now that you have a pattern, see Glass Cutting Techniques for the next step in the process.


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