Making Stained Glass Butterflies-Step by Step Instructions
For anyone that is new to stained glass or would like to see how a stained glass suncatcher is made, I will outline how you can easily make one yourself.
Materials Needed to Make A Stained Glass Butterfly
- One piece of glass or two pieces if you'd like to have the butterfly in two different colors.
- Copper foil
- Neutralizer or Kwik-Clean Flux and Patina cleaner
- Steel Wool
- Wire for the antennas
- Fishing wire to hang finished butterfly
Tools You Will Need for Most Stained Glass Projects
- Glass cutter
- Breaker/Grozer Pliers
- Running pliers
- Glass grinder
- Soldering iron
- Colored Sharpe or marker
- Popsicle stick or tongue depressor
- Wire cutters
- Small paintbrush
Starting 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.
- Your second pattern is for laying your cut pieces of glass onto in order to make sure that they're the correct size. This will be very helpful when you are using the glass grinder.
Tracing onto the glass
- 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 with larger patterns with many different pattern pieces it is helpful to either number them or name them.
- Next you will want to 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,and 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.
Scoring the glass
In this video you will see the proper way in which to score the glass. In this video the instructor has not traced the pattern onto the glass but has 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.
Grinding the glass
If you've cut the glass and it is exactly the shape of the pattern piece, is a smooth cut then there is no reason to grind the piece.
When using a grinder you should always wear safety glasses or have a grinder shield attached to the grinder. Glass dust does fly and you always want to protect your eyes.
Hold the piece of glass with your thumbs and forefingers tight enough so that the piece does not fly when touched to the grinder wheel. Follow along the maker lines. You may have to check the piece several times to get it exactly the shape that you want.
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 dust free. This will make the foil stick easier.
Copper foil has a shinny 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.
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 paint brush 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 you will need to 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.
60/40 Lead Solder
Wire to make antennas
Measure out a piece of wire double the length you want the antennas, snip and fold in half. Rub the wire with steel wool, then apply flux to it. On the back of the butterfly lay the wire across the long seam, and apply lead with soldering iron.
Patina and Final Clean
If you want the solder to be black you will now need to apply patina to the solder. To do this wear gloves as the patina will stain your skin. Apply a small amount of patina to a sponge and rub over the solder. If wanting to leave the lead silver color all you will need to do is spray the butterfly and antennas with Kwick-Clean and rub with a clean sponge. Rinse under 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.