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Stained glass techniques

Glass Painting

Glass painting is a process that takes time but the results are dramatic and breathtaking. The ability to glass paint is sadly becoming a dying skill. Traditionally, glass painting referred to painting on the surface of a sheet of glass to be included in a stained glass work. This kind of painting, which is actually closer to drawing than painting, was done to add details such as faces and folds of clothing that couldn't be added with traditional lead lines.

The glass paints used for stained glass painting are predominately browns and gray-blacks. The colors tend to be enamels, and can be applied with a brush in a method similar to the way watercolors are applied. In all cases, these paints are fired onto the glass using a kiln. The heat of the kiln causes them to bond permanently with the glass.


The first stage of painting is to trace paint this is used to show the outline of the subject matter. The second stage is to provide depth by adding shading to the subject, this is done by covering the glass with the required colour all over the areas that need shade. If additional colour is required then we enamel the areas using much the same techniques as shading.




Sandblasting can be used as an accent to your stained glass or fused glass, or it can be the major aspect of your glasswork. With an understanding of the basics and a little creativity, this technical toolset can help create reproducible effects that are otherwise impossible to create.

In glasswork, sandblasting can used to etch a pattern into the glass surface, creating a frosted effect. A three-dimensional design can be carved into the glass volume by using a "stage-carving" technique where some parts of an image or pattern are carved deep into the glass while others are carved shallow or only surface etched. Sandblasting can also be used to selectively etch the surface of the glass to remove iridescent coating, enamel or micas. Also, sandblasting can also be used to remove kiln wash or fiber paper that has stuck to the glass surface during fusing.

Sandblasting can be used to decorate ordinary objects, such as bowls, bottles, glasses, vases or candleholders. Artwork and lettering can be etched into glass windows for decoration or identification. Sandblasting can also used to customize awards by etching names and other information into glass or metal objects. Mirror can be etched from the back, removing the mirror coating to create interesting effects.

The Restoration process

Pictured Right is Christ hospital school, we restored and conserved 180 windows, whilst the stonework had extensive restoration work undertaken at the same time.

Once we have taken the panel out of its existing location we then measure the size of the opening and the size of the panel that will be restored, We also take a rubbing of the panel much like a brass rubbing and as much detail including photographs of the panel before the main work begins.

With the panel on the bench we begin taking the panel apart with the greatest care possible so not to break any pieces of glass, we do this by cutting the old lead away from the glass and placing the pieces on the bench on top of the rubbing. Once the panel has been stripped we then clean each individual piece of glass using various cleaning techniques. Sometimes the glass will have to be soaked for a period of time to help remove tough dirt.

All the pieces of glass that need replacing are cut either using the rubbing or if possible from the existing broken glass segment, with the closest match possible to the glass available to us. In recent years there has been a greater increase in the amount of restoration glass available.

If glass painting is required we then work from our initial photos and any other historical information avaliable to us, there are complex methods such as coldpainting for conservation that we adopt if not replaceing from new please refer to our traditional glass painting page for furthur details.

Then the process of leading, soldering, cementing and cleaning begins.

Window creation process

How we make a stained glass window.

Once the location has been established the next step will be to take accurate measurements. If however you wish to fit the panel yourself we will need you to supply the accurate measurements to us.

We will then talk in depth about the subject / content of the window/s either from our existing portfolio or a new design idea.
When all ideas are gathered and agreed we go back to the workshop and produce a hand drawn design full size, so you can visualise your design as it will be when completed.

The next stage is to choose the glass textures and colours, this can be a time consuming exercise, however one of the most important because once chosen the next stage is to cut the glass.

The construction of the panel now begins, by this stage the client must be sure that they are happy with the chosen design and glass choice.

Firstly we black in the cut line that is required to act as the heart of a piece of lead.

We then cut the glass out by hand according to the chosen design.

1 - When all the glass has been cut to millimetre accuracy we then progress with the leading up of the panel.

2 - We then solder each individual connecting lead with a propane gas soldering iron, this creates a solid frame to support the individual glass segments.

3 - Our next job is to waterproof the panel by applying stained glass cement into every gap in the panel, for example all the gaps between the glass and the lead. This is a time consuming job, however a very important one.

4 - The cement is allowed to dry, then the cleaning up process begins, this requires us to pick every part of the panel with a pick stick getting all the dry cement off all the glass and lead leaving just the cement between the glass and the lead.

The panel is left to dry a little longer, and then polished with a darkener giving the lead a blackened look and this in turn polishes the glass, the panel is now ready for installation.