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Making stained glass panels for a bay window

Updated: Jun 20, 2019

Last autumn I got a commission from a family for the bay window at the front of their house. The window looks out over their small front garden and the street and the family is looking for more privacy in their kitchen. Stained glass panels are ideal to keep people from looking in. And instead of just blocking your view outside, it gives you something to look at.

Inspiration for the stained glass panels

The family already had some stained glas panels above their front doors. They were traditional multi-colored panels, quite nice. They wanted something that would fit with the panels, but it could me more contemporary. They also preferred the panels in the kitchen to be a bit more subtle.

Sweating through the design process!

I noticed a couple of the colors of the existing panels would make a nice combination: the yellow, purple and green. When I got back to my atelier I started playing around with those. This time I made a lot of designs that I didn’t like at all. I was in the ‘this is crap’ stage of designing and decided I needed to let it rest.

After having my brain distracted for a while, I realised that my first ideas just didn’t work in this setting and that I needed a new approach. Usually I give my customers a couple of designs to choose from. So I started fresh with design number one: a simplified classic design in leaded glass. For the second design I decided to use a different technique for each color: the purple would be a structured glass in lead, the green would be painted on in a gradient and the yellow would be glued. This resulted in a simplistic contemporary design I was pretty happy about!

After presenting the designs to the family, I was pleased to hear they picked the contemporary one. I started ordering the glass and making paint samples. I was curious about making a gradient in stained glass, but it turned out pretty well. Unfortunately my timing was off and I was at the same time being confronted with the manic stress of finishing my Master-Glass exhibition.

Time-management: Why aren’t there more days in a week?

One thing I find hard about managing my own business is time-management. And new projects always seem to come at the same time! I actually love planning ahead, but I get flustered sometimes with unexpected extra things to do. I would love to spend most of my time working at one of my projects, but managing my website, doing the finances, social media and acquisition take up a lot of my time as well. And all that doesn’t even seem to be enough yet! Anyway all this planning-business led me to have to delay the bay-windows. But I was lucky to have such nice customers that they didn’t complain and patiently waited for me to finish their project. Hurrah for friendly clients!

Did I tell you before that I love painting?

So finally by the end of december I could continue with the project. First I cut all the pieces and numbered them. The white glass I was going to paint with the green paint. The funny thing about some of these glass paints, is that they are a different color when you put them on, then they are after you’ve baked them in the killn. I needed to align the gradient on all the pieces, so I painted the smallest one first, which was still pretty big. I used a big brush and a lot of very wet paint to put it on the big surface and then I equalised it with the badger brush. I very carefully tapped off the paint layer by layer to get the gradient I wanted. To make sure the pieces were all aligned, I put each piece next to the first one as I was tapping off the paint. After they went into the killn, they came out as I wanted.

Sometimes you need I little help from the family

The next step was leading the pieces. It weren’t many pieces, so that was done pretty quickly. Also putting the kit on two sides didn’t take too much time. My fellow Master-Glass graduate Wim made steel frames for the panels. He made them really small and minimalist, which looked great. I just had to handle them with extreme care because they were pretty fragile until the panels were in. I managed to get them in with a little help from my sister and a bit of gentle pushing and tapping. I also had to heat some of the points I soldered again to flatten them a bit more, but the end result was super.

Lastly I had to glue the yellow pieces on. I couldn’t do it earlier, because otherwise the panels couldn’t slide into the frames. I used SilGel by Wacker again and I managed to glue the pieces without bubbles.

Finally, with help from my husband, we hung the panels in the bay windows. The customers were happy with the results and so was I. Another project finished! At the moment I am already working on some new free art works. But more about that in my next post….

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