May 2020 Stained Glass Design and Glasspainting Workshops

In response to student feedback I’m offering a series of three tightly structured 5-day workshops in May 2020. Two are for advanced students only and designed to take your stained glass practice to a new level.

Instruction includes Powerpoint presentations, technical demonstration, hands-on group exercises and individual projects. In these workshops I will teach practical skills and repeatable, step-by-step processes that are difficult to learn online or figure out on your own. For example, mixing glasspaint to optimum viscosity and drying speed for various tools and brushes; and gaining a clear understanding of the work-flow for designing or painting a stained glass window.

Here’s the history of my proprietary stained glass recipe, and here’s my beautifully responsive glasspainting mixture in action

Workshop location? Watch me glasspainting and assembling a stained glass window in my Vermont studio where these May 2020 workshops will be held  (11 min video).

About me? This recent podcast covers my career as a stained glass artist and includes the mathematics I’ve been working on in recent years. Many thanks to interviewer Shawn Waggonner, she really got me to open up!

Check out the drop-down menu items under GLASS to read workshop descriptions and more.






A great week!

2013 design & glasspainting workshop in Vermont – such a productive and enjoyable week! Thanks to Linda Zochirack for these photos.

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The first two days were spent learning design via Powerpoint presentations and hands-on drawing. Working from reference material they’d chosen or brought with them, each student made a cartoon (full-size black & white shaded drawing), a cutline (a working drawing that looks a bit like a dressmakers pattern), and a thumbnail sized watercolour sketch to help with glass selection.

As I keep on saying, successful stained glass is a marriage between art and structure; between colour, line, imagery, and lead. This first part of the workshop is for creative decision-making, for working all this out on paper first. I showed students how to draw a traceline that is a fresh, creative interpretation of their drawing/photo and how to design a panel from separate pieces of glass with leadlines.

Everyone pretty much accomplished this by the cut-off time, 4pm Tuesday, and the evening was spent furiously cutting glass. Since I’m not teaching fabrication I don’t mind if students cannot cut. Either I’ll do it, or another student will help. I’ve taught this workshop many times and it always seems to work out OK, everyone has a panel ready by the end of the day.

The rest of the week was spent painting glass. On Weds, specific instruction on mixing, slaking, thinning and applying glasspaint with a whole variety of tools and techniques, plus group exercises and demos. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, students worked on their own projects. Scroll through the folder to see what was accomplished. A successful six days’ work all round!

As requested, I have updated my Resources page with info about tools, materials and suppliers. There’s also a link to my Notes for Students. More? Watch glass painting demos in real time on my Vimeo page and the whole process of making a stained glass panel in these two video shorts Menfolk Part 1 (6 mins) and Menfolk Part 2 (8 mins). Enjoy!

Pics and a video from Arrowmont

Last week’s Arrowmont workshop included slide presentations, design seminars, instructions on mixing, thinning and applying glasspaints and several painting demos.  You can also watch a brief (2.5 minute) video of me painting basket weave with my fingers and printing with plants. Enjoy!

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This next slideshow shares some of the work completed by students last week. All photos by either Ginger Ferrell or Laura Goff Parham. Thanks both!

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I just have to end with this picture, taken behind my back (ha ha) by my long-suffering Teaching Assistant, Ginger Ferrell. Thanks Ginger for minding the kilns and taking some lovely photos.

early morning yoga

early morning yoga

I had a really great week at Arrowmont. My mornings started at 7am with yoga on the screened porch with Jean Campbell, one of the nine other instructors.

I got a real buzz from being in such an intensely creative community – the staff, faculty and students at Arrowmont. I came home energized with creative batteries recharged. I’ve already started planning my next series of stained glass exhibition panels and looking for somewhere to exhibit new work in the spring.

There are classes scheduled at Arrowmont right up until the end of October.

class photo

class photo

Watch me painting roses!

Moving ahead on the amateur video front: Painting rugosa roses in real time.

Since I do not know how to edit my movie I’m posting still photos too, starting with a camera’s eye view of my work space with cartoon in the background (full-size drawing) and dozens of pieces of partially painted glass on the light table.


If I switch the overhead light on and turn off the light table you can see my tools, paint and transparent-bottomed tray full of glass. Notice also the real rose, plucked from my garden this afternoon, in a vase beside my glasspaint.

Next, the video….

I am adding a second layer of paint to create a soft texture and some modeling to the roses. This layer goes on top of the first layer of sumi-esque, calligraphic painting (the tracelines), painted and fired a few weeks back.


Notice that the roses on the right have only tracelines (the Fred Flintstone phase). The roses on the left have a second layer as well.

The thimbleberry flowers can also be seen at both stages, with tracelines only on the spray at the bottom and two layers of paint on the upper spray of flowers. These will become much, much brighter before they go in the kiln though. I will brush back (remove) the unfired glasspaint to reveal highlights on the petals.

In the last photo you can see the second layer of glasspainting in detail. The larger piece of pink glass I just painted on the video is right in the middle.


Mary to the hair salon, Joseph gets a facelift!


The window is still 1,200 little pieces of painted glass lying on transparent bottomed trays on my light tables. It is progressing slowly and surely toward completion. My current work consists of a lot of running up and down stairs to the loft area of my studio to review my glasspainting from a distance.


Looking down at the work from above is crucial for assessing how well the modeling is working. It also mimics a viewing angle from the inside the church.

Stained glass people of old used all sorts of tricks to do this. Looking through the wrong end of opera glasses, crucially placed mirrors, standing on a stepladder…. The camera (or even your cell phone) helps a lot too, especially if you view your work at different times of day and in different lighting conditions.


Here’s Joseph during a facelift, and some of the steps it took to get him there.
1) the glass was masked and sandblasted to create a white area for his undershirt, then firepolished in the kiln.
2) I painted his features as a black line drawing (the ‘traceline’).
3) textured his hair and beard.
4) covered the entire piece of glass with a thin layer of smooth even brown glasspaint (the ‘matte’) and stippled it while wet to create a manly texture (!).

Now, here’s the ‘facelift’!
5a) in the first photo I’ve started to remove the matte to create highlights in his hair and brighten one side of his face.
5b) in the second photo, an hour or so later, you can see the form of his face beginning to emerge.
6) in the third photo I’ve textured Joseph’s undershirt and popped him back in place for a review. Another run upstairs to the loft!

Now, check out Mary before and after her visit to the hair salon.

Note a couple of areas where I’ve laid on mattes and not yet removed them. On the left, Mary’s stole is still dark. On the right, I’ve brushed it back to create highlights.

In the left photo, baby’s blanket has been textured and lightly matted . In the right it’s dark where I have laid on the matte and picked out just a few of the brightest areas. There’s a lot more to be removed (more brightness to be revealed). This is the classic ‘painting with light’ of stained glass.

Visually, the blanket will create a bright starry area around Jesus, the focus of the overall composition. When I’ve finished, the white and pale amber glass will be sparkly once again.

These are the same glasses used in the nativity star at the top of the window.

Roses & thimbleberries

I've finally finished all the tracing. Hurrah!

I’ve finally finished all the tracing. Hurrah!

Tracelines on the roses and thimbleberries… just finished today.

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Stained glass apple blossom for Open Studio

Almost ready for Open Studio! Everyone is welcome to come and see work-in-progress on my stained glass window for Trinity Episcopal Church in Branford CT. Today I’ve been painting branches of apple blossom onto little pieces of pale pink glass.


How to paint delicate apple blossoms? I use an uncontrollably trembling paintbrush, then smudge the petals with my fingers.

Here you can see the first layer of glasspaint photographed on a light table. Note that there are white spaces where the lead will go when the window is fabricated. Tomorrow I will add more paint to the flowers, kiln-fire the glass for the second time, and fix the pieces onto my stained glass easel for viewing up against daylight. Come and critique my work-in-progress!

Painting patterns and landscape


Steady Progress on the top part of the window last week. Here’s the Star of Bethlehem.


Painting tracelines around the clouds…


Painting salt marshes took up a fair old hunk of last week too. We tried to video the process of me actually painting this piece but could only capture 8 seconds at a time and don’t know how to join them together. Oh dear, where’s our son the film-maker when we need him!


Here you can see the grassy areas in context behind the figures. I’m really enjoying glasspainting and it’s exciting to see the window progressing so well, but the photographs are horrible. The glass looks like paper cut-outs on the light table -no sparkle or movement. I’m really looking forward to seeing it against the daylight again soon. Hopefully I’ll have several panels waxed up onto the easel for my Open Studio visitors next weekend. I’m also exhibiting eight of my Menfolk panels and will be demonstrating glasspainting.

Open Studio is on Saturday May 25th and Sunday May 26th, 9am to 5pm each day. There are dozens of other artist’s studios to visit nearby, and hundreds statewide this same weekend during an event organized by the Vermont Crafts Council. Find out more, and 10 ways to plan you studio tour here and at the Vermont Crafts Council Spring 2013 Open Studio Tour webpage.

Perimeters and Placeholders (painting drapery)

I want my tracelines (the first layer of glasspainting) to be lively and energetic, with a sumi-like calligraphic quality. They must also be solid black in places, to hold their own against the leadlines.

I flip between laying out entire areas of the window to visualize how it looks as a complete picture and taking it apart to work on individual pieces or sections. Notice in my last post that I painted the faces separately using very precise drawings as my reference. A few days ago I started working on the drapery which needs to be painted as interconnected pieces. Here’s Mary’s drapery, painted directly over the cartoon with a long fine-pointed squirrel hair quill and hand-made rubber combs.


Leadlines are essential. They provide visual strength for a stained glass window, and they hold it together. But they’re pretty clumsy, without any of the delicacy or finesse of a painted line. Generally speaking, I want them to disappear. I want the viewer to become engaged with the story portrayed, not the method of construction.

To this end, some pieces of glass have very little paint on them at this stage, but what is there is important. Oftentimes, it defines the edge of an object (leaf, hand or riverbank perhaps) because the leadline itself is too crude to do this.

In places where there is no traceline bordering the edge of the glass there will be shading (texture and/or matting) instead. Again, I’m working on individual pieces whilst holding an image of the whole picture in my mind.


In some cases, tracelines serve as a guide for subsequent layers of paint, like placeholders. These allow me to create a fresh interpretation of my cartoon, a translation rather than a copy, with all the bits in the right places. Notice the very fine squiggly lines parallel to the hem of Mary’s shawl. These show me where the decorative border will go. There’s also a very fine fringe at the bottom edges of the fabric (where glass meets lead) to indicate the direction.


The last thing I did today was to apply pattern to Mary’s dress. I will be brushing away areas that will later become highlights (it’s not yet fired) and adding shadows in other areas in subsequent layers. This is the ‘texture’ stage of my glasspainting sequence.