How to Make a 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
- Neutralizer orKwik-Clean Flux and Patina cleaner
- Steel Wool
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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!
Questions & Answers
© 2012 Susan Zutautas