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How to Make a Stained Glass Butterfly

Susan has been creating stained glass pieces for over twenty years now, and it is a hobby she truly enjoys.

Blue Stained Glass Butterfly

Blue Stained Glass Butterfly

How to Make a Stained Glass Butterfly

If you're new to the world of stained glass or wonder how a stained glass suncatcher is made, read below to learn how to easily make one yourself!

What You'll Need

  • One or two pieces of glass, depending on the colors you want for the butterfly
  • Copper foil
  • Flux
  • Lead
  • Neutralizer orKwik-Clean Flux and Patina cleaner
  • Patina
  • Steel Wool
  • Wire
  • Fishing wire
  • Glass cutter
  • Breaker/Grozer Pliers
  • Running pliers
  • Glass grinder
  • Soldering iron
  • Colored Sharpie or marker
  • Popsicle stick or tongue depressor
  • Wire cutters
  • Small paintbrush
Feel free to use this pattern if you'd like.

Feel free to use this pattern if you'd like.

Placing pattern pieces onto glass

Placing pattern pieces onto glass

1. Start With the Pattern

You will want to have two copies of your pattern.

  • The first pattern is for cutting out each pattern piece. You will be laying these pieces on the glass to trace around.
  • The second pattern is for laying on your cut pieces of glass to make sure that they're the correct size. This will be helpful when you use the glass grinder.
Scoring the glass

Scoring the glass

2. Score the Glass

The video below shows you the proper way to score glass. The instructor didn't trace the pattern onto the glass but instead taped the pattern pieces onto the glass.

You will want to score the glass on the outer edges of your traced marker lines. This will make it easier when you take your piece to grind it. You will be able to see exactly how much glass needs to be ground off.

3. Trace the Pattern

Place all four pattern pieces onto the glass in the direction you'd like the butterfly to appear. With a marker trace around each piece. You will want to leave enough room around each piece so that you can easily cut the glass.

  • Some people find it helpful to tape the pattern pieces to the glass, but this is not necessary so long as you can hold the piece of paper still while tracing.
  • When working on larger patterns with many different pieces, it is helpful to either number or name them.

Next, score and break apart each piece to make it easier to cut each individual shape. With your cutter, score up the center of the large piece of glass, then across the center again. Do this once more so that you end up with four pieces ready to cut out the shapes.

  • To break the pieces, you will need to use your running pliers.

4. Grind the Glass

If the cut glass is exactly the shape of the pattern piece and has smooth edges, there's no reason to grind it down.

  • When using a grinder, you should always wear safety glasses or have a grinder shield attached to the grinder. Glass dust flies around, and you always want to protect your eyes.

Hold the piece of glass with your thumbs and forefingers tightly enough so that the piece does not fly when touched to the grinder wheel. Follow along with the maker lines. You may have to check the piece several times to get it exactly the shape that you want.

5. Add Copper Foil

Before you start to foil, it is important that you wash the glass pieces in hot soapy water to make sure that they are clean and free of dust. This will make the foil stick easier.

Copper foil has a shiny side and a sticky side. From the roll, peel back about 1/2" an inch of the paper. Apply evenly starting in the center of one side of the glass going around the entire edge of the piece until it meets up with the starting point.

Tear the copper foil. With a tongue depressor or Popsicle stick press the copper foil down onto the glass making it as smooth and as even as possible.

Soldering all four pieces of the glass together to make the butterfly.

Soldering all four pieces of the glass together to make the butterfly.

6. Solder the Pieces

Because we are making a butterfly and want it to look as if it is flying and not a flat piece, we need to prop it up at a bit of an angle while soldering it. This can be done with scrap pieces of glass or piled up Popsicle sticks. Plug in your soldering iron making sure that it is on its stand.

  • To start, you will need to use a small paintbrush and apply flux to the copper foil. The flux is what adheres the lead to the copper foil.
  • Once your iron is hot, hold the iron against the lead and apply the lead to the copper foil, to all seams. The front and back of the butterfly will need to be soldered. This can be a bit tricky and seem difficult at first, but the more pieces you solder the more proficient you will become.
  • When all of your pieces are soldered together, apply flux to all the copper foil that is left on the edges of the butterfly. With a small touch of lead, (simply touch the iron to the lead) paint the lead with the iron onto the copper foil so that all the copper foil is covered in lead.
making-stained-glass-butterflies-step-by-step-instructions

7. Wire the Antennas

Measure out a piece of wire double the length you want the antennas. Then, snip it and fold it in half. Rub the wire with steel wool, and then apply flux to it. On the back of the butterfly, lay the wire across the long seam and apply lead with the soldering iron.

8. Apply Patina and Do a Final Clean

If you want the solder to be black, you now need to apply patina to the solder. To do this, wear gloves because the patina will stain your skin. Apply a small amount of patina to a sponge and rub it over the solder. If wanting to leave the lead a silver color, all you will need to do is spray the butterfly and antennas with Kwick-Clean and rub it with a clean sponge. Rinse it with lukewarm water and dry. If you've applied patina, you will still need to do the Kwick-Clean step.

Once your piece is complete, tie fishing wire around the antennas. This will allow you to hang the butterfly. You're done!

© 2012 Susan Zutautas

If you have any questions please ask below.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on July 23, 2020:

Chitrangada, thanks you!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on July 23, 2020:

Bev, thank you!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on July 23, 2020:

Thanks so much, Sally!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on July 23, 2020:

Congratulations Susan, for winning the crafty prize. It’s so well deserved.

I like stained glass art, and I liked your well presented, well explained article.

Thanks for sharing this and the pictures are great.

Bev G from Wales, UK on July 23, 2020:

How gorgeous. I have the perfect window for a few of these. Something I would love to do in a workshop setting. I would never have the courage to try it by myself. I need close supervision :D

Congratulations on winning the crafty contest !

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on July 22, 2020:

Congratulations on your 'crafty' prize win. It is certainly well deserved. I love stain glass work and the end result is very pretty. Well done Susan.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 10, 2014:

Thanks so much erorantes!

Ana Maria Orantes from Miami Florida on June 09, 2014:

Miss Susan, thank you for sharing your art work. It is beautiful. I admire your work and creativity. You are wonderful. I like your hub.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on April 25, 2014:

Thanks so much pstraubie!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on April 24, 2014:

These are stunning...I am not so good with this kind of project but my daughter is so I will pass it on to her.

Hopefully she will make me a couple to hang with my plants on my porch. Great directions

Angels are on the way to you ps

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on April 24, 2014:

Thank you Shar-On

Sharon from Perth on April 15, 2014:

Great details and pictures that should help people to make these butterflies. My dad does this and he used to love it, although they go traveling more now .

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on March 27, 2014:

Millionaire Tips, Thank you so much! I only wish I had more time to spend on the hobbies I enjoy.

Shasta Matova from USA on March 26, 2014:

That is a really pretty stained glass butterfly. The step by step instructions look great!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 16, 2013:

Thanks so much Crafty!

CraftytotheCore on October 15, 2013:

Wow, this is truly ambitious and beautiful! The instructions are so detailed and it's an incredible piece of art.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 30, 2013:

Thanks Mary!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 30, 2013:

Billie, Thanks so much!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 29, 2013:

Thanks so much Bobbi!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on August 29, 2013:

I have done a lot of crafts, but never real stain glass. I did some "faux stain glass", but it just isn't the same.

This Hub should get a HOTD, I think!!! It is excellent. Your photos of all the steps are just wonderful.

Voted UP and shared.

Billie Kelpin from Newport Beach on August 28, 2013:

love it! pinned and "facebooked" it ! I took a class once and have a klunky Christmas wreath made with that old dull lead stuff, but I cherish it.

Barbara Purvis Hunter from Florida on August 28, 2013:

Hi,

Your instructions are great and I might try it when my life slows down a little. You are multi-talented and you write some of the most interesting hubs that I share--- as I will share this one. Great Hub.

Bobbi Purvis

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 07, 2013:

PS, Thanks so much!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on August 06, 2013:

Gorgeous. It seems to be quite a process and it appears you have it down to a science. You have given so much detail that it seems you have not left out anything. That to me is so important when embarking on a new experience such as this.

Thanks for sharing. Voted up, shared, and pinned. Angels are on the way to you ps

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on March 10, 2013:

Thanks so much Vinaya.

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on March 09, 2013:

I was always amazed when I saw painted glass, and wondered how it was done. You have published an amazing tutorial. Though this is not my cup of tea, I believe lots of people will find this very useful.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 08, 2013:

TT, You try it ... it's fun but is time consuming. I only wish I had about 48 hours in a day to do all the things I'd like to do :)

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on January 05, 2013:

I have always loved the look of stained glass and have wanted to take a class. You make it look SO easy. Loved this!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 11, 2012:

Thanks Nell.

Nell Rose from England on October 10, 2012:

This was so clever, and beautiful too! I have to make one now, fantastic!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 04, 2012:

Janis, At first I thought I'd never get the hang of it but as time went on I improved :)

Janis Goad on October 04, 2012:

You make it look so easy, Susan!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 04, 2012:

Natashalh, I'm sure you'd love making stained glass pieces. Thanks so much for the pin.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 04, 2012:

CF, Thanks for stopping by and for your comments.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 04, 2012:

GoodLady, I bet that patchwork panel is going to be beautiful. Glad you liked the hub and thanks.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 04, 2012:

Judi, Thanks.

Natasha from Hawaii on October 03, 2012:

This is so beautiful! I remember a middle school art project with glass cutting and I loved it. I really want to get the supplies I need to do this project! Pinning =)

Liam Hallam from Nottingham UK on October 03, 2012:

These look a great treat for a rainy winters afternoon with the neices and nephews. It will definitely come in handy at some point this winter. CF

Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on October 03, 2012:

Would love to make a butterfly for my new granddaughter instead of a patchwork panel (which i've been roped into doing). I'll mention it to the family. Your butterfly is just lovely and thanks so much for the really easy to follow instructions. It makes such a meaningful gift. Pinning and voting here.

Judi Brown from UK on October 03, 2012:

I read one of your stained glass hubs yesterday too - they're really useful and give great tips.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 22, 2012:

bridalletter, Flux is a chemical compound that is used to bond metals by removing the oxide residue simultaneously with the soldering process.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 22, 2012:

Rusticliving, It's a great hobby and if you do end up trying it I'm sure you'll love it.

Brenda Kyle from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA on August 21, 2012:

Really cool craft. Exact design I would do, a butterfly. What is flux?

Liz Rayen from California on August 21, 2012:

I love stained glass and have always wanted to learn. I'm so happy that you laid it out in step by step instructions. I am going to give it a try! Thumbs up and shared! Nicely done Susan!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 20, 2012:

Ruchira, I was nervous the first piece of glass I cut. From there on it was easy.

Thank you so much and glad you liked the hub.

Ruchira from United States on June 19, 2012:

wow..susan. I am seeing this crafty side of yours for the first time...lol

i loved the stain glass butterfly but am scared to cut glass although your hub is well explained. Many votes to you on this beautiful craft and sharing it across

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 16, 2012:

Sue, Thank you. There are bevel kits that you can make where the pieces are already cut out for you. I have a snowman in another hub that I made that you may like to try.

Sueswan on June 16, 2012:

Hi Susan

Your stained glass Butterflies are beautiful. I admire your talent.

Unfortunately, I am one of those people who can't draw a straight line with a ruler never mind using a tool such as a glass grinder.

Voted up and awesome.

Enjoy your weekend. :)

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 15, 2012:

PenHitsTheFan, Thank you.

Amy L. Tarr from Home on June 14, 2012:

I love stained glass. That is beautiful.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 14, 2012:

Hyphenbird, Thank you, glad you liked the hub.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 14, 2012:

Lesley, I am sure you will enjoy this hobby, and glad that I've inspired you to do this. Thanks so much.

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on June 13, 2012:

These are lovely and your instructions so perfect. I will show this to a friend of mine who likes to make things. Thanks!

Movie Master from United Kingdom on June 13, 2012:

Hi Susan, your instructions are excellent, I love stained glass and you have inspired me to have a go!

Thank you and voting up.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 13, 2012:

Sue, I use a 60/40 lead solder. What kind do you use?

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 13, 2012:

leann

Ruby

Frank

Thanks everyone.

Sue on June 12, 2012:

How come you use lead instead of solder? I never heard of soldering with lead and I've been doing stained glass for 35 years.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 12, 2012:

Thank you Pamela. I've thought of selling some of my lamps and window transoms but I cannot seem to part with them.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 12, 2012:

Thanks Jimmy!

RH, It can be an expensive hobby. If you can buy all the tools from someone that is maybe giving up stained glass it can be a bit cheaper. Ebay seems to have some pretty good deals. If you purchase Be sure it is not a household soldering iron but one that is for stained glass. You'll want an iron that will reach 700 degrees, and 80 to 100 watts.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 12, 2012:

molometer, Thank you. The grinder comes in really handy especially when I don't cut the glass to exact size.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on June 12, 2012:

Susan you are all that! thanks so much for sharing..

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 12, 2012:

drbj, Thank you, and if you ever have any questions while making a stained glass piece please let know.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 12, 2012:

Hi Kelley, After soldering you need to clean the flux off of the lead. Same goes with the Patina, which is a chemical you rub onto the soldered areas to get either a black or copper color. All of the products mentioned can be bought at amazon, ebay or at your local stained glass store.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 12, 2012:

Thanks Brian :)

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on June 11, 2012:

I absolutely love stained glass. I have several pieces. I never thought of making anything myself. I think I would love to try this..Thank you for the share. Cheers..

leann2800 on June 11, 2012:

These are beautiful, they would look wonderful on my patio!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 11, 2012:

Your instructions for your glass project were very good. I have made and sold stained glass for many years. I have always loved its beautiful and all the beautiful color and textures to choose from. Very useful hub.

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on June 11, 2012:

Beautiful! I'd really love to try this. Is it really expensive to buy everything you need to start? Like a soldering gun? I've always wanted to try this...it's so pretty! I'd love to make a whole window:)

Jimmy the jock from Scotland on June 11, 2012:

Beautiful and well made Susan you are a lady of many talents, thanks for sharing.....jimmy

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 11, 2012:

Sogno, That's great, I'm glad to hear it and thank you.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 11, 2012:

Tammy, Thank you. I'm sure you'd enjoy doing stained glass from all the craft hubs of yours I've read.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 11, 2012:

Arren, Thank you.

Chrissie, I started out taking classes at a local stained glass store and would recommend anyone to do the same.

Vincent, You're making me blush :) Thanks so much!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 11, 2012:

missolive, Thank you.

Micheal is from United Kingdom on June 11, 2012:

Very nice craftwork. Glass is quite tricky to work with. I liked the grinder wheel. That would be really useful.

Nice hub Susan.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 11, 2012:

Thanks Flashmakeit.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on June 11, 2012:

Your instructions, Susan, are very clear-cut and easy to understand, so one day I may take the plunge and try to fabricate a stained glass butterfly myself.

kelleyward on June 11, 2012:

Great hub Just Ask Susan! What is Patina cleaner? I've never heard of it and just wondering where I could buy this. Voted up, useful, interesting and shared! Take care, Kelley

Brian Slater from England on June 11, 2012:

hi Susan this is an excellent resource for those who want to learn how to make these. Easy practical steps for anyone to follow and great pictures. voted up :)

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 11, 2012:

Rebecca

Kevin

Vicki

Angelea

Thanks everyone.

SognoPiccolo from Wilmington, Ohio on June 10, 2012:

informative and beautiful! I have always wanted to do this but have never given it a shot. Will definitely give it a shot now. =D

Tammy from North Carolina on June 10, 2012:

Gorgeous! This is one craft I haven't tried. Very intricate and beautiful. These would be great gifts.

Vincent Moore on June 10, 2012:

Wow Susan you are so talented, any man would want your heart. A great cook, craft maker, wife, mother and all round beautiful lady. You hubby is a lucky man indeed. Hugs

chrissieklinger from Pennsylvania on June 10, 2012:

I don't know if I would ever have the patience to make this but it really is beautiful and looks like a good place to start if you are interested in trying out stained glass.

Arren123 from UK on June 10, 2012:

Wow, very interesting, thank you for sharing, voted up :)

Marisa Hammond Olivares from Texas on June 10, 2012:

These are beautiful! You make it look so easy! You always give such great instructions and take such clear pictures. This is a wonderful hub for anyone wanting to give the art of stained glass a try. Sharing!

flashmakeit from usa on June 10, 2012:

Very useful hub!! I am going to add this to my pearltree

on pearltrees.com

Angela Brummer from Lincoln, Nebraska on June 10, 2012:

Oh I love this and will share it!

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on June 10, 2012:

Wow, Susan. Great hub. Detailed step by step instructions with great photos. Well done! Many votes. What a beautiful hobby!

KevinMillican from Stilwell, OK on June 10, 2012:

Very nice hub!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on June 10, 2012:

Those are gorgeous, Susan! I have always loved anything with stained glass. How crafty of you, using those glass cutting techniques!