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Leaded Glass

Window from the James A. Patten House. Gift of American Decorative Art 1900 Foundation, in honor of Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, 2008 (2008.535). Photography by Joseph Coscia Jr., The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

While growing up I had never been enamored of stained or leaded glass in my home furnishings – Tiffany glass lamps were usually a bit too frilly for my tastes. But that all changed when I visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio in Oak Park, Illinois. Suddenly the idea of geometry versus flowers made all the difference in the world. It didn’t take long for me to open my eyes a bit further and realize there was a place in my world for glass art. I found it in Greene & Greene and Stickley furniture and architecture. And when I started building pieces, I quickly thought of adding glass to the designs. Too bad I didn’t know how to do it!

I kept looking at the designs and the way they were made. I’m a tool user and a woodworker, so solving conundrums is what I do. I felt sure I could figure out how to do my own functional glass art – given a bit of instruction. So when I found a way to make that instruction part of my day job, I jumped at the chance.

Gillian Thompson is a glass artisan in Cincinnati, who gravitated to glasswork because her dad recommended a hobby. Since that time she has been named one of Cincinnati’s top craftspeople and enjoys the privilege of working with a diverse variety of projects, from simple embellishments for the home, restoration and reproduction of fine stained glass, to conservation of a series of Tiffany windows for the permanent collection of the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Yes, she can teach me a thing or two. And she can teach you as well. In Make a Leaded Glass Door, Gillian starts with the leaded glass basics. It only requires a few tools and a new skill set, but nothing a tool-using woodworker can’t figure out! This first project (buy a copy and we’ll see if we can talk Gillian into a couple more videos!) works with geometric shapes and is a great introduction to the process and the basic tools. I haven’t ordered my soldering iron yet, but the next time my designing includes glass, my options will be wonderful.

— David Thiel

Leaded GlassYou can purchase “Make a Leaded Glass Door” on DVD or digital download at

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  • woodnjunk

    Twenty three years ago I made a clock for my parents twenty fifth anniversary. Rather than the plain glass panel,
    I opted for leaded glass. I have used leaded glass in mirrors,cabinet accent doors quite often since.

    The cash outlay not very much compared the extra value added to your pieces.


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