Design Original Stained Glass
Create a Stained Glass Pattern from a Photo
Free stained glass design tutorial to get you started on making your own patterns. Looking at a blank piece of white paper is terrifying! These free stained glass design tips will get you started in a way that avoids fear.
Stained Glass Design
If you do fancy learning how to make stained glass designs, I’ve put together 5 simple steps that might help you.
1. Stained Glass Design Inspiration
- Photos are always good for inspiration, and can get you past that empty blank page you’re faced with at the beginning of a project.
- Find one that interests you. It can either be one you’ve taken, or one that you’ve found. I’ve chosen one I took of a cactus in Lanzarote.
- Think about why you chose your photo? What do you like about it? Is it the colour, the shapes, does it make you laugh? Whatever it is you like about your image is what you’re trying to capture in your design.
- In the photo above, I liked the contrast of the strong, spiky leaves with the wispy twirly bits at the end. I think it will loosen it up and create a free stained glass design. I also like the light and dark greens, and the energy that brings.
2. Selecting Part Of The Image
It’s sometimes easier to choose a section of a photo, rather than the whole thing.
If you tried to pick out all the shapes in this one, there would be hundreds of complicated pieces. It would be too difficult to make, even for someone with lots of experience in stained glass.
- Try isolating a section yourself. Either cut out a square or rectangle in a piece of paper and move it over your image until you find a section you like, or do it on a computer.
- Turn your photo upside down and around if you want. This sometimes helps you see something different. It can help you make a free stained glass design that has movement.
3. Making Simple and Free Stained Glass Design Shapes
- Now pick out some simple shapes. I’ve done it on my computer in the photo below. You could do it by putting tracing paper over your image and tracing some of the shapes that you like.
- The lead or solder lines are your ‘drawing’. They are a very strong part of your design. It’s best to think about the pattern they make carefully at this stage. I’m trying to get mine nice and spiky here.
- You can see I’ve also picked out the wispy bits that I liked about the photo at the beginning. They give a bit of ‘life’ to the design.
4. Colour And Texture In Stained Glass Design
Once you’re happy with the shapes, you can start thinking about colour and texture. I always colour in my designs so that I don’t make mistakes later and waste the beautiful art glass.
- Make a few photocopies or scan your outline stained glass design. Now work out what colours you want and where to get the balance right at this stage.
- If you leave some areas clear, it really makes the stained glass design stand out. It makes the colours ‘zing’.
- In thestained glass design above I’ve tried to create some depth with the dark and light shades.
5. Adding The Free Stained Glass Design ‘Lead Lines’
This is the point that it all comes together.
- Add the lead lines in, along with any details that you want to add – in this case my ‘wispy’ copper wire. To get this effect, simply solder pieces of bent copper wire to your solder lines after soldering.
- Now you can really get a sense of what your finished panel will look like.
- Make sure you’re really happy with your design. You don’t want to waste time and money making it in glass if it’s not right at this stage.
How To Make Free Stained Glass Design – Troubleshooting
Some things to watch out for:
- that the shapes are ones that can be cut out in glass.
- anything that tapers off into a thin point. These are difficult to cut, so widen the ends a bit.
- shapes that don’t join up with other shapes. You can’t have shapes that stop in the middle of the glass, there must be a lead line to the edge, or to another shape.
- lots of points joining in the same place. They will end up creating a big blob of solder. Try putting a circle where they meet instead.
- concave curves. They’re the most difficult shapes to cut as the glass wants to break on the inside of the curve, so don’t make them too deep. Try to avoid them altogether for your first piece.
- if you’re designing for a window, you need to be working to scale at this point. You don’t want to design something long and thin for a short and fat window. See Measuring to learn about taking accurate measurements. Make sure you scale the Sight Size down to fit your sketchbook.
Free Stained Glass Patterns
I’ve had a look on the web and have come up with a few of the best sites that offer free stained glass patterns.
1. Spectrum Glass have a lot of designs for hanging panels and suncatchers on this site. There’s geese and horses to geometric and abstract patterns.
It’s easy to browse through them using the arrows at the top right of the page. They do recommend Spectrum Glass, but of course you can use any type of artglass.
This website is the best one for total beginners, but there are patterns that are for intermediate level.
2. Chantal’s Stained Glass. This is a lovely pattern site. Lots of suncatchers, panels, lampshades, boxes and just about everything else! Highly recommended.
There’s something here for all levels of skill, from beginners to advanced.
3. Free Stained Glass Patterns. This site has some amazing designs. You can get an idea of what each of them will look like in glass as they are all in color. Scroll down for the pdf to print off. This site is suitable for intermediate to advanced.
Once you have found a pattern you’re happy with, you’re ready for the next stage, Cutting Templates.
My tutorials for making a copper foil project with your new design are here.
The instructions for making leaded stained glass to realise your design in glass are here.
GET MY FREE ‘CUTTING PERFECT CURVES’ eBOOK
My simple to follow free e-Book shows you how easy it is to cut even the most difficult type of curves in stained glass.
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