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[Stained Glass Gems] All About Stepping Stones
January 17, 2010

Issue 14! All About Stepping Stones

Welcome to all stained glass enthusiasts. These Stained Glass Gems have been found during my frequent browsing and deep digging for helpful and or unusual stained glass web sites, as well as other information pertaining to stained glass. I have a long list that I will share with you over the months ahead. I do hope that there's a gem or two that will brighten your day and be helpful during your stained glass journey.

This month's ezine will be all about Stepping Stones. With spring just around the corner and craft shows for Mother's Day coming up, now is a good time to start making stepping stones.

I spent two summers making stones, selling them to garden centers as well as individual sales. Somewhere along those that time, I realized I was really missing copper foil and lead and all things related. That was when I packed away my stepping stone equipment and got back to custom work and repairs. I gave up a good market...those thing sold like hot cakes, but I'm a much happier person doing what I love rather than doing something that is taking me away from the things I love to do.

Here are some of my stepping stones ready to take to a garden center:

Garden Center Stones1 Garden Center Stones2

And a couple more that sold well:

Sun Bonnet Sue Dragonfly

Stepping stones have always sold well, especially if the designs are unique. For those of you wanting to try something new and different, this might be the answer, and it's a good way to use up larger pieces of scrap glass.

There are 2 ways to make stepping stones...the Direct Method and the Indirect Method.

The Direct Method involves gluing the glass to a ready made (blank) stepping stone, then grouting the glass to fill in the spaces. I haven't heard of many stained glass hobbyist using this method although it is an easy enough project to do with your children.

The Direct Method requires the entire top side of the stepping stone to be covered with glass, as it is difficult to fill in large spaces with grout and have a smooth, even surface.

The Indirect Method takes a lot more work then the direct method, but the end results are much more professional looking, and you do not have to fill in all of the space with glass if that is your preference.

The equipment you'll need for the indirect method:
Good quality Contact Paper (I like Contact brand the best)
A mold to build the stone in
Mold release
Pre-made mortar mix or ingredients to make your own (my preference)
Vinyl gloves
Large contained to mix the mortar
Large area to work in
Cement sealant

I won't go into the actual directions to make a stepping stone since you can download excellent directions from the Silicon Folly web site (below).

Web Site of the Month

Silicon Folly is a web site I went to frequently when I was making stones. There are free step by step manuals to download, a gallery to ooh and ah over as well as a forum devoted to stepping stones.

For anyone wanting to mix their own mortars and grouts Mortar Materials gives directions and explains each ingredient used.

Let's Chat

The Stained Glass and Mosaic Forum on the GardenWeb website is a forum I have used many times in my stepping stone days. You'll find many interesting discussions going on, and there's always someone that can give you help with a problem.

Garden Accouterments is another forum at the GardenWeb that has some stepping stone discussions.

Where To Get It

There are many Stepping Stone Patterns on this web site.

Delphi carries a large range of Supplies

Tips and Techniques

I perferred to mix my own mortar from scratch. I knew it was high quality and I didn't have to worry about the stone falling apart a few years down the road. It was initially expensive only because the ingredients didnt come in small ammounts. However, once I had everything, I had enough to make many stones and it was far less expensive per stone than buying ready made mortar.

The only down side to mixing your own is finding some of the ingredients.

Here are a few hints:

Calcium Chloride is sold at most home improvement stores. It is used to put in a closet to absorb moisture, and is sold under the name of Damp Rid.

I was able to get Nylon Fibers from a local concrete/cement business (the kind with a cement truck!). They just gave me a paper bag full.

I got both white and tan sand at Home Depot

White Portland Cement is available at most home improvement stores.

Acrylic Admixture was found at our local concrete supplies business. Actually they carry white sand and portland cement also, so if you have a similar business in your area, that would be a good place to start.

I found dry colorant at a tile store. If you color the motar, make it darker than you want, as it fades as the motar dries.

I used white sand to make white stones and to add color to if I wanted a colored stone.
I used tan sand for tan stones.

I couldn't find Silica Fume or Superplasticizer, so I never used it in my mixture. As far as I could see, it didn't make any difference in the quality of the stones.

If you come across directions that tell you to use chicken wire in the stone (for strength), you do not need it if you make your own motar. The acrylic admixture and nylon fibers add all of the strength you need.

Allow the stones to "cure" for 28 days before they are set outside. Prop the stones up by placing pencils or small strips of wood underneath to allow air flow on all sides. Cure them in a controlled environment like your basement or a lower shelf on a workbench. Don't cure them outside in the direct sunlight, in an unheated garage in the winter, or where there will be major temperature variations. Never let a stone freeze and don't let it get wet while curing.

Here are the instructions I gave with every stone sale:
A stone should never be taken from a warm enviroment to a cold one, or the other way around. You run the chance of cracking pieces of glass due to the unequal expansion and contraction of the concrete and glass.

White "frost" may appear on your stone. The frost is called efflorescence. It is more apparent on colored concrete. It's salt and minerals that show up after the curing process or after exposure to rain. Vinegar or a weak solution of muriatic acid and water will remove this white frost.

When placing garden stones in your yard, be sure to put a bed of sand or gravel under the stone. This allows water to drain away from the stone. Never let your stone stand in water.

Never spray water on a stepping stone that's been sitting in the sun. The cold water on the hot glass is a sure fired way to break the glass.

It's always smart to store your stepping stones inside in the winter, especially in areas where freeze-thaw cycles occur.

Miscellaneous Stuff!

The video on using running pliers is now up and running on the Running Pliers Tutorial.

Best deals in art glass suppliesDelphi Stained Glass Supplies is a place I have bought many supplies from over the years. Some very helpful people work there, the prices are competitive and you'll find just about any stained glass supply you need.

Have a look at How-To DVDs You're going to find hundreds of "How To" DVD's for rent. They have some very interesting stained glass tutorials which can be found at Glass

Do you need a pattern resizer or a design program? I can highly recommend Pattern Wizard and Rapid Resizer. They are reasonably priced and you get a fairly long free trial before you have to commit to paying for them. You have the option of buying one or the other or both.

Copper Foil FAQ eBook
You will find questions and answers about Using Copper Foil in this 36 page eBook. I have compiled them from the question and answer pages on my web site. It should be very useful for anyone that uses Copper Foil. Some of the areas covered are gaps, foil lifting, reinforcement, soldering problems, oxidation, foiling curves, and much more. It only takes a minute to order, and you can download it right away, as an Adobe PDF document. Get it today for only $7.95

Buy Now If you're not completely satisfied, it comes with a 30 day, no questions asked, money back guarantee.

Patina FAQ eBook
You will find questions and answers about Using Patina in this 28 page eBook. These are real questions and answers that have been asked on my web site. It should be very useful for anyone that uses Patina. Some of the areas covered are zinc and black patina, copper foil and black patina, copper foil and copper patina, patina for lead came, and more. It only takes a minute to order, and you can download it right away, as an Adobe PDF document. Get it today for only $7.95

Buy Now If you're not completely satisfied, it comes with a 30 day, no questions asked, money back guarantee.


"Make a Box With a Hinged Lid"
is an ebook that will walk you through making a stained glass box. Read about what is included in the book and how it will simplify box making. You'll get a free gift, Learning the Copper Foil Technique, when you buy this eBook.
Go here "Make a Box With a Hinged Lid" to buy now.

book For your convenience, my lead came tutorial is now available as an eBook.

It contains everything found in the Lead Tutorial as well as larger pictures and a practice pattern to use while learning the techniques. Use ordinary window glass while you're learning and save your colored glass for when you're ready to make some windows.

It only takes a minute to order, and you can download it right away, as an Adobe PDF document. Get it today for only $9.95
Buy Now If you're not completely satisfied, it comes with a 30 day, no questions asked, money back guarantee.

Just in case you don't know, the Stained Glass Gems ezine is mailed out the third Sunday of every month. Be on the look out for [Stained Glass Gems] Issue 15 on Sunday, February 21st.

I want to encourage you to have fun and experiment with your glass. Try new things and different techniques. It's amazing what you can do when you "think outside the box."


Stained Glass Patterns and Tutorials

This is where you can Contact Me

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