Saturday, March 29, 2014

Transforming Your Ideas Into Stained Glass

Transforming your ideas into glass suncatchers or wall hangings is entirely possible when you have something to work with.

Creating stained glass suncatchers is fun and profitable but like anything else you can get tired of replicating the same patterns (with slight modifcations) that everyone else is making.

Creativity making stained glass suncatchers is limited only by your imagination and your ability to transform them into a real products.

Here are some ideas on how you can accomplish it.
  • You went deep sea fishing with friends and was lucky enough to land a beautiful Mahi Mahi (dolphin).  Idea: Dolphin Suncatcher
  • You went for a drive in the local wildlife refuge and saw a beautiful pair of Wood Ducks.  Idea: Wood Duck Suncatcher
  • You took a walk and saw some beautiful Monarch butterflies on a milkweed plant.  Idea: Butterfly Suncatcher
  • On a spring walk in the woods you noticed a beautifully colored salamander under a rotted tree stump.  Idea: Spotted Salamander Suncatcher
  • You spotted some waterfowl while on the beach.  Idea:  Pelican Suncatcher
All of the above have potential and are great prospects for transforming your ideas into stained glass suncatchers

The first step is to record your idea to some sort of media you can work with.

If you are artistic, you can simply draw or etch your ideas on paper, wood, etc. for future use.  If you are totally void of artistic abilities, just take a picture or video of your ideas for future reference.

Original Picture of Pelican
A cheap, pocket size digital camera is a great way to record things you have seen for future reference.

Snap pictures of your ideas and when you get home transfer the pictures to your computer. 

Then use any simple picture viewer to manipulate your images.

There are many free software programs available that can manipulate pictures, but IrfanView is one of the best and easiest to use.

Edge Detected Photograph of Pelican
It has an "edge detection" feature in the "effects" menu that you can use to more easily trace patterns from the copied pictures or photos on your computer. 

The next step is to make a copy or copies of the pictures you choose to transform into stained glass suncatchers.

If you do not already have a home copy machine, I strongly recommend purchasing any brand of "all in one" copier. 

These units have a copy, scan and fax feature built into one machine.  There are many brands available and most are reasonably priced.

Use heavy card stock paper so you can cut out and re-use the pieces after you trace and transfer the pieces onto the stained glass.  Office Depot or Staples has the paper available at reasonable prices.

Once you have copied the "edge enhanced" picture that you manipulated from the original photograph, you can use a led pencil or magic marker to trace out the glass pieces. 

Make sure the pieces you trace from the copy can be easily cut from stained glass.

During this step you do not need to get fancy with ornate close cuts, impossible angles or sharp edges.  Trace pieces that can be easily cut from the glass and assembled into a suncatcher.

(Note:  There are several software programs that claim they can make a photograph into a stained glass pattern.  Look for additional posts on this topic.)

Once the tracing is complete, just proceed with your project as you would with any other stained glass suncatcher pattern.  Reference
  • Cut
  • Foil
  • Tack and solder
  • Clean
  • Patina
  • Enjoy!  

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