Have you ever wanted to have a go at stained glass work, but felt intimidated by the cost and the difficulty of getting started? Well, that is understandable, considering the large selection of equipment you may need: soldering iron, glass cutters, solder, flux, lead came, not to mention the cost of the stained glass itself. Well, there is a compromise solution and that is to have a go with ‘glass on glass’ mosaic.
This is quite an uncommon technique, but basically it combines the simple technique of mosaic with stained glass and can create some beautiful and stunning effects. It is much easier to learn than traditional stained glass techniques and there is little wasted glass because every last piece can be utilized. In fact, you positively need broken glass bits. You can either buy complete sheets of stained glass yourself and then cut them into little pieces, or you can buy precut stained glass pieces in various shapes and sizes from online mosaic websites or eBay. If you choose to make your own mosaic pieces then you will need glass cutting pliers or ‘nippers’. These are very safe and easy to use and you can quickly cut hundreds of small mosaic pieces from the stained glass. The other things you will need are:
- A piece of clear glass as a base, you can use picture frame glass for this. (the wood frame is handy too)
- Clear drying glue such as Weldbond
- Dark tile grout and mixing stick.
- Damp Cloth
The basic technique is to first sketch out your design and place the sketch under the clear glass you are affixing the glass mosaic pieces too. You can then easily follow the lines and shapes as you stick each piece of stained glass down using the weld bond. Do not worry if the weld bond appears white, it will soon dry clear. Leave a gap of a few millimeters between each piece, this is where the grout will go later. Once you are happy with your design, confirm all the pieces are fixed to the glass well. Try to avoid getting an excess of glue in the gaps between the mosaic pieces as this can prevent the grout from adhering.
After 24 hours the glue should be set and you can apply the grout. Choose a dark grout black or brown as this makes the stained glass stand out much better than white grout. You can use ‘sanded’ grout or ‘unsanded’ grout. The sanded grout is stronger but may cause little scratches when you apply it. The unsanded grout should be fine on smaller pieces of work and is easier to apply. You can also buy premixed colored grout for bathrooms which is really easy to use. Applying the grout is the messy part, you simply scoop some up using a spreader or spatula and press it onto you Mosaic, gently pushing it into all the gaps. You continue till the whole work is covered and then gently wipe off the excess with a damp cloth. As the grout dries you continue gently wiping the mosaic periodically until most of the grout is removed from the stained glass, however, you do not want to remove too much from between the mosaic pieces. You will learn as you go how best to remove the grout, just remember do not let it dry totally on the top surface of the stained glass, or else it will be hard to remove. A little ghosting is OK and can be removed once the work is fully dry using a soft damp cloth.
Once dry you can frame your work. If you have used picture glass from a frame, then you can reuse the frame for your mosaic. Framing the mosaic will make the work look more complete and professional. Now the secret to displaying a stained glass on glass mosaic is to have light shining through it so hang the piece up in a window and it should be a real talking point as the glorious colors shine through!