Our Process | Gilroy Stained Glass Ltd, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Our Process

The production of stained glass can seem a complicated process, so we’ve broken it down into  steps in order to clarify the way in which we work. If you would like more information about our projects and the way we work  Subscribe now  to receive our studio newsletter and updates.

Steps to Creating Stained Glass:

When you first call us for a consultation we will have a very informal chat about your requirements. You will be invited to visit us at our studio, to view our extensive portfolio and see the way we work . We will then prepare a free, no obligation estimate of costs based on approximate sizes.

When you are satisfied that we can create the perfect stained glass window for you, we can arrange to visit the site of the proposed window to obtain accurate sizes and to assess the location and the light source and discuss design solutions with you.

We will then prepare a scaled 1 inch to 1 foot water colour design to your unique requirements. We always create our designs using black ink and water colour because we have found that this medium is the closest representation of the translucent quality of the glass.

east window design, crop

When the design has been approved, and any changes or alterations made, the next stage is the production of a full size working drawing in black and white. This drawing is known as the cartoon and shows the painted details and tones and the positioning of the leads. At this stage you are invited to view the cartoon for final approval and to see some of the glass we intend to use.

Mary Magdalen cartoon crop 2

A structural drawing known as the cutline is made from the cartoon, it contains information for the fabrication of the window, such as width of lead cames to be used and positioning of support bars. The cutline determines the exact shapes of the glass.

Each piece of glass is carefully selected with reference to the design for type and colour. To cut the glass we then use a tungsten tipped oil filled wheel cutter, and cut the glass to shape over the cutline keeping the score mark just inside the pen line, which represents the heart of the lead came. When the glass selection and cutting is completed it is then laid on a light table or placed on an easel to double check if they are working together as envisaged.

glass cutting


Painting technique and depth of tone and shape, although discussed at the design stage, are once again considered to optimize the jewel like quality of mouth blown glass. There are several stages of applying paint to the glass, which combine to gradually build up the tonal values of the image. The colour always comes from the glass itself, the application of painted line and tonal values allow us to influence how the light is viewed through that colour.

painting John

The glass is fired in the kiln after each painting stage, which means that each piece can be fired several times before it’s finished. During firing, the temperature of the glass reaches approximately 700 degrees C fusing the paint into the surface of the glass permanently. Our specialist stained glass kiln was produced in Holland and allows us greater flexibility with our painting techniques than a more standard kiln would. The application of silver stain or kiln fired enamels would then take place at this stage if it had been decided previously that this is what the piece required.


The next stage is assembling all the individual pieces of glass together using “H” section lead cames and soldering the joints. The window is waterproofed and strengthened by brushing a specialized “cement”, an oil based putty, into the spaces between the flanges of the leads and the glass.


Finally the window is installed in position. This can range from fitting into wooden or aluminum frames to stonework that is centuries old, and we know that you will be astounded and delighted by how beautiful and unique your window is.