How to Make Stained Glass Suncatchers

I have designed a sun catcher and will describe step by step how to make the pattern. The project is a frame, which holds a multi-colored diamond glass suspended from the center. The pattern uses only straight cuts and is perfect for beginners. The nice thing about making this pattern is that you can change out the center for different occasions. If you use a neutral color for the border you can even change for different seasons or holidays, for example, make a snowman, or a Christmas stocking, scarecrow. I think you get the idea.

Lets get started. You decide on the colors of glass that you like.

Supply list:

Glass For the outer border
Glass For a two-inch square
Glass Color for two small borders
Wire
Solder Iron
Glass Cutter
Light Oil
Running Pliers
Flux
Flux Brush
50/50 Solder
Copper Foil
Black Patina optional
Glass Marking Pen
Wire Cutters
Needle Nose Pliers
16×18 piece of plywood
Glass Cleaner
Polish
Safety Glasses

You will need to use a grinder to smooth the sharp edges of 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 acrylic barrel. The barrel is filled with oil and lubricates the wheel as you score.

To draw the frame use a plain sheet of paper and draw a horizontal line six inches long and a half an inch wide. Draw a vertical line five and a half inches long and a half an inch wide. Repeat on the other side. Now that the frame is drawn you could draw a line to miter the corners.

The pattern for the diamond will be basically a two-inch by two-inch square box turned on end for a diamond shape with two half-inch V-shaped borders on the bottom. The easiest way to do this is to draw a three-inch square turned on end to create a diamond shape. Place your ruler on the left inside edge and mark a one-inch border. Divide this border in half, and then draw a vertical line through the center of these two half-inch borders.

Make three copies of your pattern, a working copy, a spare, and master. Cut out your pattern pieces and lay them on the glass. If your glass has a pattern, lay your pattern pieces in the direction you want. Glass also has a right and wrong side make sure you’re on the right side. The backside may be rough and have imperfections. Take your glass marker and trace around each piece.

Use newspaper then your plywood on top. 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.

Hold the cutter as though holding 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.

To break glass the scoreline should always be on top. For breaking straight lines 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. To break a straight score you could also 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. This project is straight cuts.

Score and break out all the pieces. Your glass pieces are sharp and need sanding. After sanding each piece check it against your pattern. Lay all the pieces on the master copy and check how well they fit together.

After you’re satisfied with the pattern fit, it’s time to wrap the pieces with foil. Pull the foil apart to expose the adhesive. Stand the glass on end and center on the adhesive, then wrap each piece overlapping just a bit then cut. Press the foil down around the glass until smooth to the touch. A wooden clothespin works great for smoothing out the foil.

To make the loops for hanging your project you will need to cut a small piece of wire about two and a half inches long then loop it once around a pencil. You should have a little bit of a tail that will be soldered into the frame. Make four hooks, two for the top frame, one to hang the diamond from the frame, the other on top of the diamond.

Lay your master on the plywood and arrange all the glass pieces on the master. Apply flux to all the foiled edges. Make sure all your pieces a touching each other.

Heat the solder iron. Use a small damp sponge to occasional 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. Drip solder in spots between two pieces just enough to hold the piece together. Be careful not to move the pieces as you work. Once your pieces are held in place you can remove the pattern.

To complete the project, hold the roll of solder in one hand and the iron in the other. Place the iron tip on the glass between the pieces and run a bead melting the solder. You should try and leave a rounded bead behind as you follow your flux. Use a smooth continuous motion. The solder is what holds your piece together. Complete both sides. Work slowly but do not stay in one spot to long because it could crack the glass. The only problem that can occur here is if you hold the iron to long in one spot the solder will melt through to the other side.

Attach the hooks to your project. Using needle-nose pliers hold the loop and dip the ends in the flux. Position the loop on the top corner then drip solder onto the ends. Make sure it is secure in place. This may be a little tricky. The wire is very hot, so do not handle it except with the pliers. Repeat this procedure for placing all the hooks. The hook ends for the top of the diamond can be bent down along the edge then soldered in place.

Clean the project with a glass cleaner, apply patina then polish to a high shine. Use a nice ribbon or very light chain to hang the diamond center.

Clean the project

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