How to make stained glass jewelry

I have designed a few jewelry items for myself. They are easy and fun to make. Since I do a lot of stained glass projects I usually have jars full of scrap and old pieces of glass. I have made flower pendants, necklaces, and bracelets. I will describe step by step how to make a bracelet. This will be an easy pattern using only straight cuts. The bracelet is made up of one-inch squares. Each one-inch piece will have two loops one-quarter-inch on each side and will be attached to the next piece with a connecting jump ring.

So there is a three-fourth inch space in between the squares. Only the first and last square will have on one side only one centered loop for attaching a jump ring or the clasp. Each loop and jump ring will be a quarter of an inch so take into consideration this length when you measure your wrist. For my wrist, I am using four one-inch squares and I take into consideration the loop lengths on each side and the jump rings for a total length of six and three-fourth inches long.

Supply list:

Solder Wire
Solder Iron
Glass Cutter
Running Pliers
50/50 Solder
Copper Foil
Safety Glasses

You will need to use a grinder to smooth the sharp edges of the glass. Ask the dealer if you would be permitted to come back and use theirs. If you purchase a standard cutter remember to dip the wheel in oil to score the glass or purchase a pencil style with the acrylic barrel. The barrel is filled with oil and lubricates the wheel as you score.

If you want to try it on your wrist before you cut glass, you should make a paper bracelet. Cut two strips of paper seven-inches long and one-quarter wide. Using one inch on the ruler, place the side of your strip by side one-quarter inch in from the edges. Next measure one-half inch in to simulate a loop and jump ring, then drop a square. You can glue this in place.

Measure three-fourth inch, this simulates a loop on each square and a jump ring in between, then drop another square. Continue to do this until you find the number of squares right for you. On the last square add another quarter-inch for the last jump ring. Try this pattern around your wrist. If you used five squares your pattern for the glass would be five inches long. Make two copies of your pattern, a working copy, and a master.

Trace your pattern on the glass. After you have marked the glass then score it. Protect your workspace using a newspaper or a piece of plywood. Be aware there may be chips and slivers of glass when you score or break. Any time you work with glass scoring, breaking, or sanding please use your safety glasses. To score the glass, hold the cutter like a pen. Start at the far edge and pull the cutter toward you. A light touch on the cutter will do. You will hear a crackling sound as you pull the cutter across the glass. Once you start your score do not stop until you get to the very edge without dropping off. Do not go over the same score, doing this will damage the cutter.

There are several ways to break a straight cut and always keep the scoreline on top. To break by hand, grasp the bottom of the glass with your hands on either side of the score. After you have a good grip with your thumbs toward the center but not touching the scoreline give it a quick snap downwards. Another way is to move the glass score to the edge of the table and give it a quick downward snap. The running pliers are also great for doing this. Put the pliers in the center of the scoreline and squeeze.

Score and break out the glass strip. The glass pieces are sharp and need sanding. After sanding check it against your pattern. Now take a ruler and mark the one-inch lines on the glass. Now you can score, cut, and lightly sand. It’s time to wrap the pieces with foil. Pull the foil apart to expose the adhesive. Stand the glass on the end and center on the adhesive. Wrap each piece overlapping just a bit then cut. Press the foil down around the glass and miter the corners. A wooden clothespin works great for smoothing out the foil.

Make the loops for the glass pieces. Use something that is a quarter-inch and perfectly round. I used a quarter-inch dowel. Cut a piece of wire one and a half inches long and make two loops on it. To do this measure a quarter inch from the edge and place the dowel against the wire. Take the long end of the wire and wrap around the dowel, then repeat for the other side. My sample takes six wires. For the first square, I only need one loop for attaching the jump ring. For the last square, I need one loop for attaching the clasp. Wire for the first and last loop can be cut to a smaller size.

Layout all your pieces on the plywood. Arrange in the order that you will solder them. Apply flux to all the foiled edges. Apply flux to the wires, being very careful to not touch the loops. Solder all wires except loops. Heat the solderinging iron. Use a small damp sponge to occasionally wipe off your iron. Use caution because the iron and solder are extremely hot. Touch the iron to the solder and drip solder on to the flux. You may need to hold the wire with the pliers against the glass and then touch the iron to the wire and foil. Run a bead of solder on the wire just up to the loop on both sides. Repeat this process for the rest of the wire and glass pieces. Clean all the glass pieces using a glass cleaner then polish.

To complete the project you should have all the squares soldered with the loops in place. Take the jump rings and connect all the pieces together. Attach the clasp. To make a matching necklace make an extra foiled square with one loop on top. Find a pretty silver chain and thread it through the loop. Make several of these at a time; they would make a great gift.

To complete the project

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