If you are in the market for a nice piece of stained glass that will last, here are 5 things to look for before you buy.
1) This probably can go unsaid, but it’s not a bad idea to make sure the glass is indeed glass and not just colored plastic. Glass is heavier than plastic and sounds different than plastic when you tap it with a fingernail, coin or key.
2) The glass should fit tightly together with no “wiggle” room. If it’s not snugly encased by the foiled solder seams or the lead came, it will eventually crack or fall out.
3) Structurally, straight lines in a design are not as stabilizing as curved lines unless they have been reinforced with rods or stiff wire. This is especially important around the edges in a free-form piece, such as where the hands meet the sleeve on an angel.
4) Look for rounded (bulbous) solder seams. Flat seams will eventually peel away from the glass, especially around the outside edges.
5) Avoid buying a sun catcher or art glass panel with long narrow pieces of glass. When pieces of glass are very narrow (less than 1/4” and more than 5”, which is a ratio of 1:20), they are prone to cracking across the smaller dimension.
There’s nothing like seeing stained glass in person. However, if you are buying a piece of art glass online, read the description carefully. E-mail the artist with questions about tips 1, 2, and 3, especially if the answers are not evident in their product descriptions or photos. Hopefully the artist has included some detailed close-ups of solder lines, joints, and embellishments (as in the photo at the beginning of this article) and you will be able to see the quality of their soldering and look at their design elements.
If you have any other questions, just Ask Me.