How To Cut Stained Glass By Tapping

You can see from this video that the tapping method is extremely useful in certain circumstances.

But what about the times that it’s not the best choice of technique?

The tapping method is not good for:

1. Routine cutting and breaking.
It is far better to use your thumbs or either cut running or grozer/breaker pliers than to resort to tapping all the time.
This is because tapping will create an uneven edge that will then need grozing or grinding.

2. Very narrow strips.
It is difficult to use the tapping method when the score is very close to the edge of the glass as you can easily break the strip by a misplaced tap.
You would be better off using the breaking pliers to snap and pull a strip apart.

This video the most difficult shape of the ‘Tapping’ video series.

You can see the easy and medium videos by going here for Number 1 (easy) and here for Number 2 (medium)

3 Best Times To Tap When Cutting Stained Glass

Do you ever wonder what that ball on the end of your glass cutter is for?

The ball is used to gently open up a score line from underneath so that you can prise the glass apart. It’s a very helpful technique for certain situations.

Tapping is good for:

1. Cutting inside curves

2. Any score lines that don’t separate with thumbs or pliers

3. Cuts that are narrower at one end

This is number 2 in the mini-series of 3 videos on using the tapping method.

Number 1 (easy) is over here, and Number 3 (difficult) is here !

Cutting Stained Glass By Tapping

When cutting stained glass do you use the tapping method to open up those stubborn score lines that don’t miraculously separate?

If you add this skill to your cutting repertoire you will reduce glass wastage. Always a good thing!

Here’s a short – less than 2 minute – video to get you started. In it I show you how to open up a very simple cut – a shallow inside curve.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next two days, as this video is 1 of a short series of 3.

In videos 2 and 3 the shapes become increasingly difficult and new tips for dealing with them are added to your skill set.

Here’s Number 2 Video and here is Video Number 3 

Happy tapping!

5 Things Stained Glass Saws Do Well

taurus ring saw with shapes cut out

Taurus Ring Saw

1. cutting ‘difficult’ glass like drapery glass (it’s wavy like cloth and is of uneven thickness and doesn’t lie flat)

2. very thick glass

3. very small pieces of glass

4. cutting fused glass (glass that has been fired and melted together with another piece of glass).

5. shapes that are very very difficult or impossible to cut by hand… but with certain provisos …

Glass shapes and very thick glass cut with a ring saw

Glass shapes and very thick glass cut with a ring saw

…The Provisos…

It is true that stained glass saws are good for cutting shapes that are impossible by hand, as you can see by the photo above.

But you have to think about these difficult shapes carefully…

If you are using the shapes for stained glass and they are really, really difficult – or impossible -  to cut with a hand held glass cutter then they are highly likely to be shapes that will break when you make up your panel. Examples could be very deep and sharp inside curves and shapes that include an abrupt change of direction. See this slideshow for more examples.

Even if the shapes survive the panel construction they may break later when exposed to bad weather or (if it’s a sun catcher) simply being moved from one room to another. It’s not worth the risk.

These are all things you have to consider when designing a stained glass window.

You CAN use them for cutting these ‘impossible’ shapes if you are subsequently going to fuse them. These shapes don’t need to be strong as they will be fused with another piece of glass for strength.

Do glass saws save time?

Ring saws won’t actually save time.

It’s much quicker and cheaper to cut glass with a hand held glass cutter and easily as accurate once you master the technique.

With a glass saw you have to move slowly  to cut glass successfully, letting the blade do the work and not pushing to hurry it up.

Close-up of Taurus Ring Saw

Close-up of Taurus Ring Saw

What is the best way to treat the blades?

The blades are reasonably costly to replace so you have to treat them gently.

If you treat them with care they can last a fair time but if you try to hurry the cut and push on the glass they are more likely to blunt or break.


Glass saws certainly do have their uses and I’m not against using them to cut glass where appropriate.

I would recommend a stained glass saw if you were doing lots and lots of the 5 types of cutting above.

I wouldn’t recommend one for regular day-to-day stained glass cutting.

My rule of thumb is that if you are doing stained glass don’t use a saw to cut ‘impossible’ shapes, as they will only break further down the line – in the foiling, leading or soldering stages for example.

They definitely have their place but I don’t think they should replace regular glass cutting skills done with a hand held cutter.

Stained Glass Fire Screen Ideas


Fire screen for adapting to stained glass

Ever picked one of these fire screens (or similar) up from a thrift shop?

I was asked for some ideas for incorporating stained glass into it and came up with these suggestions:

1. Use the metal work to your advantage

The metal work is quite dominant so I would be inclined to try and introduce smaller elements of stained glass that were somehow attached to the metal framework, rather than filling it all with stained glass. That way the finished stained glass fire screen won’t be too heavy – both physically AND design-wise!

2. Work out the fixings first!

It’ s a bit tricky for me to help with the details as I can’t see the fixings very well. Figure out what’s possible first, rather than spending time on the design only to be thwarted…
For example, try and see if the solder sticks to the metal – that would make things easier!
If not, you could attach wire to your stained glass inserts and then wrap it around the metal to secure it on.
It might even be possible to drill small holes in the metal to attach your glass to.
Don’t leave any fixing stone unturned!

3. Design tips

Decide what the curls and swirls suggest to you – it could be trees, flowers, pitchers of water (well I can see them!) and then design something in keeping.
Sketch out the metal framework to scale and photo copy it so that you can play around freely without having to sketch it out over and over.
If you do use wire to fix your glass elements on to the screen, make sure you use it in a way that compliments your design. It could be shaped like leaves if you chose a tree theme, for example.

Good luck and feel free to post any fire screens you have done yourself.

Here’s one of mine below. I was helped by the fact that the frame is made of wood so there was no fixing problems. The white background is semi-transluscent plexiglass which I cut with a band saw before inserting the leaves.


Stained glass fire screen by Milly Frances

Stained Glass Landscape – Yosemite

Yosemite. By William Poulson

Yosemite. By William Poulson

I’ve never been to Yosemite, but I certainly want to after seeing this! It’s HUGE – 8′ 3″ X 14′ 3″ !!!!

I guess any stained glass landscape of Yosemite has to be enormous to give at least a tiny indication of the majesty of the scenery?

The way the artist has used the colour and texture in the stained glass is amazing, with the glass echoing the side of the mountain or the sky perfectly. And the direction of the pattern is thoughtfully placed. Brilliant.

This panel is called ‘Winter’ and was made by William Poulson. If you’d like to see more then go to his website here.

Stained Glass Artists – Fabrizia Bazzo

Blue and yellow flower. By Fabrizia Bazzo

Blue and yellow flower. By Fabrizia Bazzo

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

Fabrizia Bazzo is a glass artist with true skill, who uses it well in every piece of work she does. Here she’s showing us her mastery of painting and etching.

She always manages to create something both representational AND abstract at the same time – the flower is amazingly detailed, and the textured backdrop gives the impression of foliage without being too specific.

If you like Fabrizia’s work, you can see more on her website here.

Stained Glass Box in 6 Seconds

I love these chest stained glass boxes. They are slightly more difficult to make but not too hard… you just have to make sure you get the spacing and the angle right on the lid.
The most important thing is to be absolutely 100% accurate with your cutting. Using a strip cutter is definitely the way to go.

It was made from a pattern book ‘Stained Glass Boxes’ by Randy Wardell and he has an accompanying video to show you how it’s done. It’s a brilliant video but you will have to have a bit of experience to make this box I think.

Public Health Warning: If your cutting isn’t 100% spot on, your box will be wonky!

Calculate How Much Stained Glass You Need


When you have a pattern, do you know how to calculate how much stained glass you need to buy to make it?

The method below might help you:

- I make a coloured pattern first. This helps me to visualise what percentage of each colour I need.

- Then I multiply the height by width to get the total area. You can do this in inches to get square inches if you find it easier than feet.

- Add between 15 – 25% for wastage (this varies, depending on whether the pattern has mostly straight lines, whether there’s lots of difficult cuts, whether the glass I’m using is easy or difficult to cut etc)

You might want to up this to 30% to be totally sure you won’t run out if your cutting is a bit ‘rusty’!

- You now have a new total – the area + 30%

- Then work out by eye the % of each of the colours. Eg:

red = 25%
blue = 25%
clear = 50% 

They need to total 100%

- Then work out the area needed for each colour.

Let’s take the easy one (clear = 50%). Divide your total (the area + 30%) by 2 to get 50%. That’s the amount of clear you need – in square inches!

- To get it into square feet, divide it by 144. That gives you the area of clear you need.

This isn’t as complicated as it sounds if you do it step by step. It will at the very least give you a ball park figure to start from.

Let me know if it helped or hindered your calculations!!!

Stained Glass Paintings

By Cappy Thompson.

Bee Keeper’s Journey: Ladder to Heaven. By Cappy Thompson.

Just glass and lead = stained glass. Just glass and foil = stained glass. But glass and paint = stained glass paintings!

It’s not that they are better than stained glass, but they are certainly different.

Here’s a collection of my favourite stained glass artists who use paint:

Cappy Thompson (see above) has been doing work ranging from the small – decorating vases – to the enormous – huge public work – for decades. Her work has a sense of fun about it and quite often includes a caricature of herself. A bit like Alfred Hitchcock appearing in all his movies. I think that might be her climbing the ladder!

There’s lots more of Cappy’s reverse glass paintings on her website if you are intrigued.

With regard to other similar artists… there’s a few who work along similar lines in terms of their painterly techniques, but their subject matter seems either darker or more ironic. I don’t know if that’s your thing, but even if not, you might get something from their creative processes.

Seeing Is Believing. By Judith

Seeing Is Believing. By Judith Schaechter

Firstly, Judith Schaechter. I’ve just seen her give a talk and she’s something else! Very idiosyncratic and a HUGE perfectionist. She makes all her work, and as it’s layered, it can take months… the screen above is 11′ X 9′ and is multi-layered.

Here’s Judith’s website , which has all her work pictured but not much commentary. But this for me is her Jewel in the Crown, her Late Breaking Noose Blog, where she talks about her inspiration, processes, thoughts – oh all sorts! It’s a real glimpse into an artists’ mind and life:

PS Judith thinks her women characters are beautiful and is always surprised when others think differently.

Jackie O in Blue

Jackie O In Blue. By Joseph Cavalieri

Then there’s Joseph Cavalieri, who pinches from popular culture with impunity. Comics, Hollywood, history… you name it, he uses it in his work.

All these artists are very skilful with their techniques. Both Joseph and Judith are attracted by decoration and patterning – something that you could use in your work, maybe?

Here’s Joseph’s website if you like the look of ‘Jackie O in Blue‘ above and are prepared to be amazed.

Scenes Of Death and Doubt. By Jeff Zimmer

Scenes Of Death and Doubt. By Jeff Zimmer

Jeff Zimmer is another glass artist whose representational work has a twist to it! He was fascinated by theatres a while back and made some  boxes with layers and layers of glass building up the image. They were amazingly detailed and because of the depth you really felt like you were disappearing into them:

Here’s Jeff’s theatre series. They’re very dark and mysterious and intriguing. Jeff has just won a big prize in the glass world – second in the Coburg Prize – and is hot property. Wish I’d bought this one back in 2010!

I’m going to stop now… I could go on but I might frighten you off altogether! I realise these artists aren’t such ‘fun’ as Cappy Thompson but they do share a certain aesthetic, if not subject matter.

If you find any more, let me know.