Stained glass making FAQ’s with Angle Glass

By Zoe Angle of Angle Glass

Originally trained in Fine Art, I’ve been creating stained glass for 30 years now and set up my own West London studio – Angle Glass – in 2009.  My work ranges from the restoration of precious church windows to designing and making original glass panels for contemporary homes. And everything in between! There’s a lot to know about stained glass, but here are the top 5 stained glass making FAQ’s that I hear the most:

Stained glass making FAQ’s

1. How is stained glass made?

After discussing the clients’ requirements (more on this below) I start by creating a coloured drawing of the agreed design. The next step is to draw the design full size, which is called a ‘cutline’. This acts like a pattern, showing where I need to cut the glass.

With the cutline as my guide, I use a glass cutter to cut coloured sheets of glass into shapes.

Once all the individual pieces are cut, I use lengths of lead called ‘cames’ to join the glass shapes together. The resulting network of cames needs connecting, so I then solder each joint individually to create a unified panel of glass.

Next, I push putty into the channel between the lead and the glass which makes the stained glass strong and weatherproof. Finally, I clean and polish the panels which makes the glass sparkle and the leads darken.

Here’s a short video made by the V&A at the old Goddard and Gibbs Studios (where I trained) which shows the intricate process of making a stained glass window – and also explains where the term “stained glass” originated.

2. How much does stained glass cost?

It’s fair to say that stained glass isn’t cheap. However, it’s important to bear in mind that the whole process is done by hand and the materials used are expensive. But the result, of course, is a unique and beautiful piece of bespoke work that I design and custom-make just for you. Factors that will affect the cost of stained glass include the size of panel, the complexity of the design and the type of glass chosen.

I normally estimate the cost based on a bespoke design, but as a rough guide:

A simple pair of door panels of rectangles of machine-made glass with an outer border could cost from £1,200.

If you would like a more complex pair of door panels that have free-flowing lines and a mix of handblown and machine-made glass, like the one above, this could cost from £2,000.

I specialise in traditional glass painting and use the technique in my own designs as well as when restoring old glass. A painted element such as a house number (above) or a painted bird roundel (below) will add anything from an extra £160 to the cost.

You should also bear in mind the fitting costs, which for two door panels can be from £200.

To see the full range of stained glass that I make, visit the gallery at my website Angle Glass.

3. How do you commission a stained glass window?

The best way is to start by collecting images of stained glass that you like. Pinterest is a good place for this, but also look to see if there’s stained glass in your street or local area. Get an idea of what you like and, just as importantly, what you don’t like.

Once you have some basic ideas in mind, get in touch. We can have a chat about what you would like, discuss where the glass is going and look at photos and different designs of glass. This is so I can get a feel of the style that you like and discuss the colours you prefer. This initial consultation is free and can take place in your home, in my studio or online.

Then I draw a coloured design based on our discussion, provide an estimate of costs and give a lead time. If you want to go ahead, you put down a deposit to commission the stained glass.

4. What happens next?

Once you’ve approved the design and paid the deposit, I will send my fitter to measure up the space where the glass is to go. I then like the client to come into the studio and select the glass. After that, it’s over to me and I start work on your stained glass piece.

Once I’m close to finishing the piece, I get back in touch with you to arrange the fitting of the glass – the final stage in the process.

5. How long does it take to make a stained glass window?

Obviously this varies from project to project, but the basic things that affect the time it takes to make a stained glass window include:

  • the size of the project – is it one panel or several?
  • the complexity of the design
  • whether it includes painted elements

Glass painting is a time-consuming process. I apply the paint in layers, each of which gets its own firing in a kiln with a cooling period between each one. If you’d like to know more about the process you can find out about more about glass painting on my website.

My average lead time (from commission to fitting) is between six and eight weeks. I often work with people renovating their homes and frequently liaise with building contractors, architects and interior designers. So it’s quite usual for me to fit my timings into a builder’s schedule of work.

So, there we have my top 5 stained glass making FAQ’s.  If you’d like to know more, or arrange a free consultation to discuss any ideas you have, then please do get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.

Images: © Angle Glass unless otherwise stated. See more of Zoe’s work and contact her at Angle Glass.

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