As you begin a new stained glass project, one of the first steps you take is choosing glass. First you determine the color and type of glass you will use to complete the project, but there is one other important consideration before you purchase your glass.
Texture can help produce a more realistic look and can add dimension to any project. By choosing the proper texture in the glass you buy, you can create the look of feathers, produce realistic dragonfly wings or give a glass lake the appearance of being in motion. It’s worth your time to get familiar with the variety and characteristics of textures available at your local stained glass retailer.
When using textured glass, you need to be aware of the “grain” of the glass. Many of the textures follow a pattern, which is repeated in a specific direction. When laying out your pattern for tracing, be sure this grain is running in the same direction across the entire piece. This may involve turning the pieces different ways to keep the lines running consistently.
The texture is built into all the specialty glasses listed below. Most textures are on one side of the sheet only. Always cut from the smoother side of the sheet, turning pattern pieces over to trace them. This is a partial list of the many textures available:
Artique — (from Spectrum) slight indentations or striations across face of glass like antique mouth-blown glass
Baroque — (from Spectrum) combines clear and colored glass in a bold raised swirly pattern, sometimes called reamy glass (just gorgeous but can distract from other glass)
Cat’s paw – one side has a repeated raised texture that resembles a cat’s paw
Corteza – looks like alligator skin (great dragonfly wings)
Glue chip – has texture across surface that looks like frost on a window pane. (gorgeous for Victorian pieces)
Granite – has rough, raised marks across one side of glass, sort of pebbly-looking
Hammered – has a uniform circular pattern that looks like it was repeatedly hit with a hammer.
Krackle – looks like it has fractures and raised wrinkles across the surface
Rippled – one surface textured with long, deep, even ripples in either a linear or curving pattern.
Rough Rolled – similar to hammered, but the indentations aren’t as large or as round
Seedy – glass has long bubbles spread unevenly across the surface. Looks like rain on a windowpane. (great for background glass)
Waterglass – (A Spectrum exclusive) surface has a wavy texture that looks like-you guessed it-water. (perfect for lakes, oceans, etc.)
We encourage our beginning students to try a variety of different glasses to get a range of experience with cutting. We have found Spectrum glass to be the easiest to cut, and the most consistent color-wise, so we use it as our “standard.” Kokomo glass is generally opalescent, which means it is more dense and has more white glass in the mix. (Generally speaking, the more white in a piece of glass, the harder it will be to cut.) This company produces more color mixes than Spectrum, and the glass isn’t very difficult for a beginner to cut.
Bullseye glass is often specialty glass which may tend to break along the lines of the swirls, streamers, etc. more than where you score it. It also seems a bit thicker and more brittle than the other brands we use. It is, however, so beautiful that it is worth using despite these characteristics. Wissmach glass has more variation in thickness than Spectrum, but has wonderful color combinations. While it is a bit harder to score and break than Spectrum, it is still a good choice for beginners-just be sure to buy a little extra.
By considering texture and the characteristics of glass made by different manufacturers, you can add variety, interest and dimension to any stained glass piece you build.