Stained glass is the process of applying colors to glass to create a decorative effect. It is one of the oldest types of art and craft used in architecture. Plus good news for artists and crafters, the inherent nature of it makes it a craft that can't be mechanized.
While stained glass panels can be made either by painting, etching (which involves the use of acid) or staining the glass (using silver nitrate) if you're a beginner - stick with painting only. It's the easiest and the least dangerous.
Here's a brief explanation of each of the three methods:
- Painting: Using special paints which are a mixture of glass dust, iron oxide and flux the design is painted onto the underside of the glass using gum arabic to make the paint stick to the glass. However, keep in mind that even the painting method involves the use of heat provided by a kiln to melt the paint into the glass. In other words, you don't just slap on some paint on a peice of glass as if you were painting a wall in your house.
- Etching: Using various means, a design is created on a piece of glass (usually using adhesive backed vinyl), the glass is dunked into a solution of hydrofluoric acid for a period of time. When the glass is removed from the acid, and the vinyl is peeled back from the glass, the design appears.
- Staining: Artists use silver nitrate to create a design. The silver nitrate is yellow and turns various shades of red or orange depending on the temperature at which it is fired.