Creative Spark

Stained Glass DragonBack in 1978 I developed the method of using crushed stained glass as a mosaic and thought I would share how it came to be.

I wanted to do mosaics but something different because I could not afford the materials and I like being different. Thankfully some stained glass studios gave me their scraps and I began using the hammer method to break it up. I admit that I was too scared to cut the glass and saw this as a feasible method.

My MomWhat attracted me was the tiny pieces that were being created when I broke up the glass. I did not think of using them until I looked at my mother’s cross and wondered what it would look like if I used stained glass. This is where it all began.

The Many Challenges

It took a while to develop my vision from my mother’s cross into what I do now and some of the challenges were:

  • Finding a glue I could use. It could not dry too fast or too slow, and it had to dry clear. I ended up using Aleene’s Tacky Glue and only recently started using Weldbond.
  • Frit wasn’t around back then and I had to crush my own glass. To be honest, I am just going to try Frit now because stained glass colors are limiting enough and Frit even more so. Plus when I did see it many years later, I thought the pieces were too large. I still won’t use it for my crushed glass, but will incorporate it into mosaics.
  • Crushing the glass is very time consuming and even developing my method took a long time because I wanted a specific size. Eventually, I came out with using two different sized strainers with different sized holes to help sift out the size and get rid of the sand-like dust. I also spent many hours trying to think of how I could develop a machine to help me. Hubby being a machinest, I was sure he could help. Unfortunately, I never figured that out. I still prefer putting the stained glass in a jean pocked that I make, and using a rock and hammer. I did eventually try a blender but I think it creates to much dust so should be done outside, and the product doesn’t have longer pieces as they are more round.
  • The limited stained glass I had made it difficult to create a gradient.
  • What could I do this on? Metal, glass, ceramics, mirrors… It took a while to realize that the base wasn’t as big as an issue as the glue I was using.
  • Not having any artistic training created a lack of confidence for sure, especially in drawing. I drew the pictures by using the square method, and because of my lack of skill that took forever. I already knew with everything else they probably would not sell because it is so labor intensive. Although I got a bit better at drawing and determining the detail I want, I feel right back to those days as I learn 3-D.
  • I did try to bring the cost down by reducing my time by just sprinkling the glass but there was no way I would get the detail or control, and when the glass is laid down it is not sharp. Sprinkling the glass made the pieces dangerous.
  • The best tools to use ended up being a light with a magnifier placed on a towel so nothing is damaged, toothpicks for the glue, tweezers to place the glass, and a ceramic tool I had for some odd reason but helped me position the glass.
  • I also played around with sealers like resin, but found it took a lot of the sparkle away. I will only seal something with resin if it is a useable piece as the many years have proven it isn’t necessary to seal it.
  • Cleaning was another issue. Since the glue is water-based washing it consists of using a damp cloth to dab the stained glass then leaving it to dry, and a paint brush to dust it. The foundation can be cleaned with a damp rag and polished with paper towels.
  • Finally, life did interfere as I worked full-time and eventually had two children.

I am glad I did continue to pursue it and am grateful for the internet as it did renew my interest in other mosaics. There is a lot of stunning work out there that has inspired me to reach a greater level of expertise. Next week I will share my tips and tricks experience has taught me.