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Glass Selection

Choosing glass for a project can be as much fun as the actual cutting, foiling and soldering. With an almost endless variety of glass available, even the wildest of imaginations can be satisfied. Some glass is very versatile, other glasses are best suited for specific uses. You'll find the more you work with stained glass the better you will become at picking glass. Look at the pattern and try to visualize the perfect glass for it.

Preparation: There are many factors involved in glass selection. Here are a few suggestions:

-If the final piece is for you or a friend, select colors that you or your friend like. If it is for a gift, choose simple colors that are complimentary.

-Is the final piece going to be placed where there is a lot of light? If so, choose glass that doesn't "wash out" in bright light. If not, choose glass that stands out without light behind it.

-If it will hang on a wall, like a mirror or picture frame, choose glass you can't see through.

Basic Principles of Color Selection: Before you even begin to choose the actual glass have a few copies of your pattern colored in with colored pencils. Complimentary colors are colors that are opposite on the color wheel. For example blue and orange, green and red, purple and yellow. They are high contrast and look very good next to each other.

Reciprocal colors are those in the same family. For example all of the colors from yellow to green to blue are reciprocal and go well together. The same with yellow to orange to red or red to purple to blue.

Monochromatic colors are lighter and darker values of the same color. They are also safe to use together.

Selecting Glass: Once you have come up with a color selection, then you need to decide what kind of glass to use - cathedral, wispy, textured,opal or a combination. This will save a lot of time and frustration when it comes to actually choosing the glass. Be flexible - glass is not available in every shade of the rainbow; have back up colors or shades ready in case you can't find a specific color. It's okay to mix types or textures in one project.

Decide what parts of your project you want to stand out; usually these are done in bolder or brighter colors in either monochromatic or reciprocal colors. Next, for the parts touching your point of focus, you usually add a complimentary color. Backgrounds are usually done in very subtle colors with simple textures so as not to draw attention to themselves. Textured and wispy glasses are another way of adding depth to your piece. If you are considering using wispy or textured glass, remember to keep the glass or patterns of the glass the same direction. Your eye will usually follow the pattern and if its going all directions, it is very distracting.

Choosing glass can be the most difficult as well as the most rewarding part of your project. It takes practice to develop a keen eye. If you are a beginner, keep it simple until you become familiar with the different types of glass. Look at glass with the light source in front of it as well as with daylight behind it. Choosing glass at night or in poorly lit showrooms can be very deceiving.

Join the discussion Add a comment

Chandra Agostini

Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Delphi Expert
154 Posts
Top Contributor Gallery Artist

@kadowson No, Van Gogh does not allow light through. It has thick metallic type coating applied to the back of the glass. It is especially nice when used for mosaics. One must be careful to grind as little as possible though to avoid chipping this coating off. If one must grind on it, have the coated side facing down.


Monday, November 5, 2012
5 Posts

How transparent is Van Gogh glass and Silvercoated glass? Silvercoat sounds like a mirror, but with colored/textured glass and I know nothing about Van Gogh but it seems like a back-coated glass variety. I'd love to use VG in a stained glass project if light permeates the glass.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011
1 Post

When you are fusing glass you have to know the COE....coefficiency of expansion. The rate at which the glass melts and cools. In fusing, we work with either 90COE or 96 COE. If making lampworked beads, we work in 90COE or 104COE. They must be the same or will crack when heating up or cooling down. In stained glass it does not matter since heat is not involved. This is why fusible glass costs more, because it has been tested and rated to assure the consumer it is compatible with the glass the fuser may put it with.


Saturday, March 12, 2011
1 Post

I just started with creating fused glass pieces. What's the difference (if any) between the glass used for fusing and the glass used for stained glass projects? Thanks!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009
25 Posts

Unfortunately Delphi no longer carries the thick glass bullets (.5-1 inch thinck). Delphi may be able to special order this type of item for you, please call our customer service department and speak directly to an associate.


Monday, November 23, 2009
1 Post

Hi, where can I get thick glass so that I can etch the glass deeply.  I am looking for glass thats about a half of inch at about 1 square foot.  It can be acrylic also.  I didn't see any glass like this on your site but maybe I missed it.  If you don't have it, do you know where I can get some.