Step-by-step: Soldering the windows

Soldering the stained glass window is the final step before cementing and cleaning.

This process continues on both sides of the assembled glass. In the kiln, more painted glass for the remaining two windows is being fired, with each kiln-load taking 6-8 hours to fire and cool. Alternating between windows and processes keeps the glassworker busy at all times.

Step-by-step: Building another window

Now it comes time to "lead-up" the stained glass window. Each of the hundreds of pieces of glass will be joined with lead cames. This is a meticulous fitting process as the window must match the pattern itself each step of the way.

First, each piece of glass is measured by rolling the edge on the lead, marking the end, and then cutting the came.

Then the lead came, being quite soft, is bent and formed around the glass piece. After marking with the lead knife, the lead is trimmed to fit with lead side-cutters.

Now the piece is carefully placed into its proper place on the pattern.

Then it is carefully fitted into the lead channel using the curved blade of a custom-made stopping knife.
If necessary, the glass is gently tapped into place with the lead end of the knife.

The piece is then temporarily held in place with horseshoe nails, and the procedure is repeated piece-by-piece until the entire window is completely assembled and ready to solder.

Modifications to color

When the perfect piece of glass can't be found as in this case, the color is modified with a subtle bit of glass painting. Here, folds and shadows in the robe have been heightened for added depth and drama.

Then one final check with all the cut and painted pieces of glass on the light table. This is the last chance to make adjustments before the building of the window begins.

Painting with glass

Though many of the glass pieces are painted, the choice of this American-developed opalescent art glass also lends a painterly effect. You can see in these robes, the swirls of color in the glass, chosen just so they give the impression of drapery and shadow.

Quite a bit of glass is cut and rejected before the exact right piece is chosen.

The sky colors, too. are chosen carefully for just the right mood and impact.

It's a very time-consuming process, but worth the end result.

Glass painting continues

Even as the building begins, some of the glass pieces require additional detailing with paint. Here you see background painting of the crowds around Jesus on light blue glass, which will now be placed in the kiln for firing. Then back to building windows while the kiln does its job.