I like stained glass and I've always wanted to have a go at making something out of it. So when I saw a course advertised locally, which was spread over 3.5 days and involved designing and making a stained glass panel, I jumped at the opportunity and eagerly booked a place.
I arrived for the first session on Saturday afternoon excited and anxious. Excited because I like to try new crafts (I've been on a few one day craft courses before) but equally anxious because I wasn't sure if I would have the necessary ability or skill.
So after introductions our excellent teacher gave us a brief insight into making stained glass panels, the tools and techniques used and some instruction on cutting glass to shape. We were then let loose on a piece of clear glass. If there was a prize for the first person to cut themselves I would have won. Having mastered, and I use that term loosely, glass cutting we had slides of our teacher's work and previous students' panels to give us inspiration. Homework was to decide on your design.
Sunday morning began with our teacher casting an eye over our individual designs before we each had to enlarge our design to the desired size and then transfer to tracing paper. The tracing paper becomes your template for cutting the glass to the correct shape and size. We chose our coloured glass from the wide selection available and the glass cutting began in earnest. By the end of the day I'd cut approximately half of my glass pieces and gained two more plasters. To include glass painting I'd quickly added the outline of a little tree on to one of my pieces which was to be fired in the kiln overnight.
Glass cutting resumed Monday morning and by lunchtime I'd acquired yet another plaster but all my pieces were cut. Now I was ready to add the lead, so after a class demonstration, I began cutting, bending and shaping the lead around every piece. This was not easy and I quickly learned that the smaller the piece the more awkward the task. Eventually after a lot of effort I'd finished. Next task was to wirebrush each joint, rub with candle wax and solder – every joint on both sides. Quick demonstration and off we go: I'd never soldered before but I felt like an expert by the time I'd finished.
Finally, using old toothbrushes, we had to apply cement around every piece, on both sides between the glass and the lead to hold everything secure. This, to me, was the least enjoyable task, maybe it was because the end was in sight and I was impatient to see my finished panel. Eventually after a lot of hard, but mostly enjoyable, work I'd finished and I'm absolutely thrilled with the result.
So if you fancy having a go at something new why not browse our selection of craft books and see what new skill you could learn. I'm thinking of trying glass blowing next (you can do this in Hay) or maybe mosaics.
Contributed by Lorna