Start with a drawing or a photograph of the subject
of your project.
Color choices should be
started right from the start - for example, the main subject of the
panel needs to be a different color than the background. The pattern is
the interpretation of the drawing or picture that makes it able to be
expressed in glass. This is also the point where the structure of the
panel is taken care of. If this is your first design, keep the shapes
simple ! Draw as few lines as you need to show the picture. Let color
differences in the glass define as much of the texture of areas as you
It is important to
consider your cutting expertise, the limitations of the equipment you
will be working with, and the kind of glass you expect to use. The size
of the final panel should be considered - the detail in the finished
panel must still be large enough to be cut or overlaid.
Simple cathedral glass cuts
more uniformly and reliably than more exotic textured and mixed colored
glass. Expect to have to cut pieces again (i.e. produce scrap glass !! )
more often from the latter.
very tight inside curve on the pattern has to be cut with a band saw or
ground out with a small diameter router bit. Don't design for a tight
inside curve if you can't cut it!
It is best to design at the
scale of the final panel. It is easier to see the curves you are drawing
and to visualize the size of the soldering between.
Draw the lines on your pattern with a heavy pencil line and
finalize with a wide marker. The wide lines will give a better idea of
the finished solder lines. You may wish to remove or adjust lines to
balance the pattern.
You need to locate the subject
of the panel onto a background that will provide the means to cut the
shapes you need for the design in a way that won't distort what you have
chosen as your feature but will prevent weakness in the whole piece.
This is also a good time to consider where you might like to position
hangers or attachment areas. It is best to be able to add attaching
devices behind solder - i.e. where they won't show when light is behind
The final panel needs to stay
together without warping and especially without cracking. The pattern
lines provide the strength in the panel and can be used for reinforcing
on larger pieces.
Glass is a heavy, plastic
medium that likes to "sag"! Vertical lines will strengthen the
panel. T-junctions and X-junctions of pattern lines will stop the panel
disintegrating into smaller sections.
Number each piece
on the final pattern. Remember to underline the bottom of the number - 6
and 9 and 2 and 5 can be confusing. It is also helpful to show with an
arrow where lines should flow. For example, the direction of coat of a
dog or the direction of water flow. This might not be important in every
project, but it is a helpful habit to get into.
Make at least 3
copies of the final pattern -
- Color approximate the glass you will be using. At this
point, some adjustments may become obvious. This copy can be
attached above your work area for reference as you work.
- This copy will be cut up to give the pattern pieces to
stick onto the glass. Clear vinyl shelf liner can be used for this
copy - the vinyl makes the pattern piece more durable during
grinding and fitting. If the glass piece has to be re-cut, you can
remove the pattern piece and reuse it. Apply the vinyl carefully
to the intact pattern before cutting to prevent bubbles or creases
which may distort the pattern. Cut through the middle of the
- This copy is used for layout.
Keep the original pattern - you may want to make the panel