Is stained glass hard to do? No, surprisingly not, as long as you enjoy working with your hands. It just takes a little practice till you develop the right touch. Pre published patterns are very abundant so you don't have be an artist. Having an eye for color helps but there is always someone here to make suggestions.
What is the best way to get started? Taking a hands on class at your local stained glass retailer is the best way to learn. Learning from someone in the business gives you the advantage of all their years of experience and saves you from pitfalls that may discourage you from continuing. Another advantage is having all the supplies and material close at hand when you need them. If you don't have a local retailer near you, there are books, videos and YouTube available if you prefer to learn on your own.
How long does it take to learn stained glass? Most stained glass classes are 4-8 weeks. Here at Glassic Arts we do 5 classes or 12 hours of instructions with in each month. Classes are offered in 5, two and a half hour, weekday class or a two day weekend boot-camp to accommodate different scheduling needs. We will host evening class upon request with groups of 3 or more. Once you have the basics down, additional classes are usually not as lengthy. We also separate out the glass cutting class so those interested in fusing are not required to learn stained glass first.
How do you stain the glass? I hear this question almost daily. We don't. The glass is made with the colors all the way through the sheet. The colors comes from the blend of metal oxides added to the molten glass during the manufacturing process. Blue glass comes from adding cobalt, reds from selenium and pinks from adding gold dust.
What tools do I need? The basic tools include a glass cutter, breaking and running pliers, glass file or grinder, and a soldering iron. There additions tools that make the job easier but are not required. Our classes include the use of the shop tools so that student can decide which tools they are most comfortable with. We do offer a student discount on tools purchased during classes.
How expensive is it to set up my own workshop? You can comfortably work at home with a basic tool kit of from $100 and a deluxe kit of up to $600. The difference would be a hand file vs a grinder and/or a ring saw. The biggest expense is in the initial tool purchase. Most hardware stores and big box stores don't carry the tools and supplies need for stained glass, they are too specialized. A stained glass retailer can recommend quality tools that last the life of your hobby. "You get what you pay for" equals your success at this art. After that it's just purchasing the supplies needed for the project.
Which is easier, copper foil or lead came? These are methods of construction and neither are easier than the other. It depends on which method you learn first. Most hobbyist learn copper foil first in which they may feel more comfortable. It is certainly a lot less messy to do copper foil than lead came. Both methods have their own particular look and advantages. Copper foil method involves wrapping each piece of glass in a adhesive backed foil tape. Then solder is melted along all seams of the glass panel. This holds the pieces together. It is useful when working with small pieces. Lead came involves placing the glass in the channels of lead strips "came". Then the intersections of lead are solder to hold the panel together. A putty is applied under the channel around the glass to seal the glass to the lead. This process weatherproof the panel making it better for external installations.
I'm not artistic, I can't draw a straight line. That's okay, you don't have to. There are lots of stained glass artist that publish their designs in pattern books. All you do is choose what colors you want, the rest is tracing and cutting. For those that lack a color eye, there is always someone around to help you decide what looks good together. Of course, those that like to draw can do their own designs with just a little knowledge of break out lines and structure.