A New Look and a New Media: Stained Glass

I have recently started working with stained glass and am currently taking a workshop to learn more about the media. I love the possibilities that stained glass offers with regards to jewelry but there are certainly areas in which it could be applied to my own artwork. And, it is a cheerful and uplifting media – a welcome change as my work has become rather dark in the past year or so.

Because this blog is about to turn 5 years old I’ve decided that it too needs a face lift – something a bit brighter and lighter (and a bit less broody art student). I’ll try this look out for awhile and see how it feels – I welcome feedback about the change – love it? hate it?

So, back to stained glass:

My first piece, in progress. Curves are tough!

In the workshop we’re building a “simple” 7×7 inch hanging piece. I decided to be a little adventurous and try to cut curves – I hate feeling limited in media and thought this would be best learned with a spotter present! I’m glad that I did this because – although difficult – I feel much less scared of the glass while trying to break out a curved piece.

Classmate piecing project during workshop at GaTech's Paper and Clay Studio.

The workshop I’m taking at GaTech is small, it’s just me and 2 engineering students. I was excited to learn that Tech offers these workshops to non-affiliated parties like myself. The brilliant part is, once I’ve completed the workshop, I’ll have access to the equipment (like the glass grinder) whenever I’d like. Even though I don’t have the Tech ID for building access, my hubby does… this is a (literal) perfect marriage.

Of course, I’ve already bought almost everything I need to do this at home. Because my primary interest is in using this medium for jewelry design it was obvious that this would be conducive to my dining room table (like all of my art). I have a nice soldering gun (or should I say the husband has a nice gun that I’ve stolen for my own devices), lead-free jewelry grade solder (because it’s likely to touch skin and lead is poisonous), flux, glass cutter, glass cutter oil, goggles, foil tape, and of course… glass! All together (counting the soldering gun we already had) it was around a $150 investment… lets hope the holiday sale at “my” gallery does well this year!

Despite having not yet finished the workshop, I’ve gone ahead and designed my first pieces. I’ve made and cut out all the templates and am ready to go.

Designs for jewelry pieces.

Thankfully, I live in Atlanta and practically anything and everything I’d ever want is something I can find “locally” and stained glass is no exception. On the suggestion of my workshop instructor I looked up the Armstrong Glass outlet store up in Alpharetta, GA. Though it was a bit of a drive it was totally worth it… it was the Mecca of stained glass. I met some artists there that had driven 5 hours to get there and claimed it was the best store in the 5 state area… that sounds pretty impressive to me.

The kicker was – they have a “scrap” glass section that includes pieces that are just as large as most of their unbroken pieces. These scraps are $3.50 (cold glass/ cool colors) to $5.00 (hot glass/ warm colors). I walked out with just over 6 lbs of glass for $20 – no joke. It was amazing.

This weekend is the final part of the workshop and I look forward to seeing what comes from this new excursion… wish me luck! I’ll share more results soon.

$20 for 6.25 lbs of scrap glass at the Armstrong Glass outlet store in Alpharetta, GA.

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