Original Custom Designs In Stained Glass
Ilene Richardson, Glass Artist
NakedDog Glass Studio
Onancock, Virginia, US 


Below are some photos of the Great Blue Heron stained glass window I completed a few days ago.  Finally completing the window made me very happy as I was cleaning it up, polishing and getting it ready to install it into a frame in solid oak wood. 

Suddenly, the window slipped out of my grip and with only five inches to fall onto the workbench, it crashed onto the surface with a loud smack and I stood there for a few moments in disbelief of what had just occurred. My first stained glass crash and destruction and many hours of work cracked, fractured, ruined. For two days I felt such grief and disbelief of what had occurred.  Then on the third day I realized I can make this window again and even better than before, and that was greatly hopeful and extremely likely.  

Many pieces were broken with obvious cracks and fractures in the glass. Unfortunately, while de-soldering the window, removing the copper foil and solder that surrounds each completed piece, more fractures were evident. Only a few pieces were saved and will be reused in creating this window once more. 

Below are some photos, not in any special order and ready to be revealed. In my four decades making stained glass windows, this was the very first time I ever dropped one. Its heartbreaking and on the good side, it's an opportunity to create the window once again and make it ever better! 
If you'd like to see some windows in progress, check this out. 
Here is an very simple explanation of how I create my drawings and prepare to cut my glass. It is far more detailed than this, but for anyone who wants an idea of what goes on, here it is. 
To assist me in making all the pieces of stained glass, I use an artist's computer program called Glass Eye 2000, by Dragonfly Software. This is an awesome program and is one way to draw your images, and print out the entire picture on one sheet of paper or print out the life-size drawing over numerous sheets of printer paper, tape them together and use that as a template in cutting the sheet of stained glass into the exact pieces I need. That is what I have done for over three decades. 

Now I have added the Cricut Maker machine which save hours of work. The drawings I create in Glass Eye on my computer are sent to the Cricut Maker and this machine cuts out my templates of each piece! The result is smaller solder seams, and the ability to easily make changes if desired. There is a rolled sheet of vinyl purchased from Cricut on Amazon and this vinyl is put on a 12x24 inch Cricut cutting board which has a bit of adhesive to hold the vinyl and once you push the final create button, the machine cuts the exact pattern of the drawing, every single piece. Of course if you make large windows like I usually do, it take many of these vinyl pieces to be cut. Then finally the paper backing is peeled off the vinyl and the vinyl is stuck onto the actual glass, and it sticks quite well. 

With my glass sheet and the vinyl pattern stuck to the surface, I go to my Taurus Ring Saw 3 and cut the piece of glass out. Its quite similar to making your own jigsaw puzzle. Not difficult, but very process oriented. 
This dark blue white opalescent glass was too dark, so I removed these pieces and chose a white and clear mix of Corsica glass that is three dimensional on one side creating more depth to the bird's main body. This glass looks very feathery and perfect. 
Normally the copper foil would wrap around a piece as demonstrated along the bottom of this wing piece. Notice how extreme the curves are on the top and at the end towards the bottom of the photo. Copper foil will not stretch or bend to those extremes, instead it will split. So, I install a short, tiny piece along the inside tight curve and let it go on both sides of the glass. Then, as I foil the piece as I smooth it down the foil will split, but it's ok because I put this little strips in so the entire surface has copper foil along it. Easily trimmed with a sharp one sided razor blade and smoothed out, ready to solder. Once I'm done the entire wing (and every piece) will have a beautiful copper edge like the bottom completely around each piece. I like foiling glass pieces, its a bit meditative and calming. 
That's all for now. for the next week or so I will be recreating this window for the customer and once it is installed in his home, we both will be very happy!