Designing Stained Glass Letters and Circles

Designing With Stained Glass Circles

circular stained glass showing how design for good circles

Do you ever design panels that include stained glass letters and circles, only to realise that the lead (or solder) line chops part of the letter or circle off? It’s frustrating.

Take for example the design above from my online student Donna Osborn. You can see the danger areas circled in pink. Without the necessary design adjustments the heads will have a flat edge where the seam cuts in to the roundness. And we don’t want misshapen heads.

There is a simple tip for avoiding this. Have a look at the diagram below.

image showing how to design stained glass circles to avoid chopping edges off

Can you see how, by separating the edges of the circles apart and adding a short joining line, it makes room for the width of the solder or lead seam?

This short line will help you keep your circles retain their shape as you can see below:

It’s not only circles. The same principle works for pointed shapes. My sketch below shows you how the point gets chopped off if you don’t have a short line on your pattern.

How to retain pointed shapes in your work

Designing With Stained Glass Letters

stained glass letters showing a problem with the bottom of the letters being chopped off

What about lettering? One of my online students Regina Seaman designed this panel but ran into trouble with the bottom edge. She could see that the lead border came was going to chop the letters off.

Given the examples above, what would you do?

I suggested the following solution.

The black shapes I’ve outlined at the bottom show how to avoid this. They have a joining arm to the edge of the panel.

stained glass letters showing the solution to chopped off letters at the bottom

Can you see how the border lead (shown in pink) doesn’t cut the bottom of the letters off now?

In this case, the joining arm only needs to be just less than half the width of your border lead came. This is because the glass needs to butt up to the inside heart.

I’m confident that these two design tips will keep your circles circular and your stained glass letters legible!

16 thoughts on “Designing Stained Glass Letters and Circles”

  1. Milly, your tips are always so helpful and useful to those of us that are learning the art of making stained glass. Thanks so much for sharing your wealth of knowledge with the world. Everyone who is interested in making stained glass should sign up for your on-line courses. There’s so much to learn from you.


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