Stained Glass Nativity

On Saturday I went with a WI friend for a fabulous day at Alma House on a workshop making a stained glass nativity. Alma House is our WI federation’s office in Ripon.

We were all very different levels of experience, one lady had made a stained glass panel at Denman College before, my friend Theresa had done a workshop on stained glass birds at Alma House last year. I’d never done anything like this and really didn’t think I would manage to make a whole nativity in a day…

Our tutor for the day was Rachel Poole, she was great, she had prepared us all a box of equipment which include one piece of glass already cut out, this was either Mary or Joseph. These two shapes made the templates for all the figures, our neighbour had the other one so we could swop templates, basically it was a kneeling person and a standing person.

First lesson was how to cut glass, I didn’t find it easy scoring the glass along a wavy line, and trying to break it ‘like a kitkat’ was somewhat scary!! Luckily the next stage was grinding the edges, this neatened off all the bits I cut badly and allowed me to add curves where I’d missed them off completely!

Whilst I was waiting to use the grinder, Rachel suggested I looked for some glass to make a stable, I found a small circle in her box, but I then cut a circle shape for the back, I was particularly pleased with this one, I actually managed to cut an OK circle!!   This photo from the internet shows the technique pretty well.cut_glass_hand1

The soft lead was wrapped around each piece of glass, that was quite satisfying as you could see it starting to come together. The heads are made from glass nuggets which are rounded on one side and flat on the other, Jesus had a tiny one and the lambs head is more opaque. We arranged all the pieces on our boards so we knew we had everything the right way round before moving on to the last part, soldering…

I’ve never done any soldering before, it was quite scary to start with! We worked in pairs again, one holding and the other soldering, you certainly had to trust your partner as the heat coming off a 1000’C soldering iron an inch or too from your fingers is pretty intense!  We both kept having to remind each other to add tallow, a beef wax without which the solder won’t stick. It was fascinating watching the solder move, a bit like mercury, I still don’t really understand how it doesn’t break the glass just from the heat.DSC_0003

Once the basic figure was soldered we could add the extras, such as shepherds crooks, crowns for the kings and a halo for Jesus, these are made from silver wire and Rachel had shaped them already, all we had to do was solder them on. I fancied a star on my stable too, Rachel gave me a length of silver wire, I decided to make it a shooting star so I would have enough contact points to secure it, so I bent a five pointed star with a long tail that curled round at the base, this gave me several points to solder.DSC_0002 (2)

Solder cools almost instantly, and once the sets of figures were soldered together at the front they could be bent round so the group would stand. We then filled in the back of the join with more solder.DSC_0001

I am well chuffed with my nativity, as well as amazed that we all completed a whole set, three kings, three shepherds and a sheep as well as Mary, Joseph and Jesus. DSC_0006 (2)

I think this was one of the best workshops I’ve done at Alma House, Rachel was great, she kept it fun whilst making sure we were safe, she was patient and an excellent teacher.

My nativity is on display on my fireplace and it can stay there until after Christmas now, you don’t get the effect of light through it but it is safer up there and I can always put some Christmas lights around it!


About craftycreeky

I live in a busy market town in Yorkshire with my husband, kids, dogs and chickens. I love trying new crafts, rediscovering old ones, gardening, walking...anything creative really I started this blog after my New Year resolution worked so well. My resolution (the first one I've ever kept!) was to post a photograph of my garden on Facebook every day. My hope was that I would then see what was good in the garden and not just weeds and work, which was my tendency. The unexpected side-effect was that I have enjoyed many more hours in the garden. I am hoping that 'The Crafty Creek' will have the same effect. Happy creating!
This entry was posted in Christmas, Serendipity and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Stained Glass Nativity

  1. Mary Kerlin says:

    So beautiful! Very impressive that this is your first attempt.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. tialys says:

    I love this little nativity. I have a friend who makes stained glass panels and I’ve commissioned her to make a couple for above two doors in our house which have boring plain glass in at the moment. She says manipulating the lead is quite physically demanding but I guess it’s not so bad on the small pieces. This little scene will look lovely with some little lights around it for Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • craftycreeky says:

      Thanks Tialys, I commissioned a stained glass window for an internal window at home over 10 years ago, we put K9 glass either side to protect it so apparently it weighs a ton! I still love it 🙂


  3. claire93 says:

    oh well done! you obviously had lots of fun learning a new craft and your nativity scene is lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. anne54 says:

    They are quite lovely Catherine. The flowing, simplified shapes of the figures are very pleasing and so different to the complex embroidery you have been doing! My Dad did lead lighting too. One of my windows is a work of his, showing two blue wrens on a fence. It is a treasured possession, and coming with me if I ever move house!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. katechiconi says:

    What a great result from just a day’s course! Your teacher was obviously very good and careful, and the design is perfect, simple but very eloquent.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Deb says:

    I’m impressed! It’s a lovely nativity glass set. Lights added just right would give it a nice glow.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kate says:

    That is a beautiful nativity! I would never have guessed it was your first time doing something like this, you did an amazing job!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. kathyreeves says:

    What a great workshop! I have always wanted to try stained glass, this is the type of project that could work. I love your nativity!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Such beautiful Nativity! The glass work looks like it was so fun:). Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is beautiful! I tried stained glass when I was younger – it sure was tough on the hands and cutting and breaking the glass wasn’t easy – I sure was happy when it all worked out!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Debbie says:


    Liked by 1 person

  12. dezertsuz says:

    That’s the best crafty thing I’ve seen in a long time, and you came home with it all finished!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Crazyqstitcher says:

    Better than a bought one and so neatly made. It will give pleasure to all who see it.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow, this is fabulous! You did an amazing job!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. How fabulous! I love it!
    You are so talented… you can do anything 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. linda says:

    Wow! I am really impressed with your project. 🙂 Very daring to try such a different craft, too.

    On of my nieces did stained glass in the past – she made me a large window to display in my (now closed) quilt shop with the shop’s logo design on it. I had to choose all the glass she used and was surprised and excited to see the vast array of glass colors and designs. Much like fabric. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    🙂 Linda


  17. Pingback: Stained Glass Christmas Decorations | thecraftycreek

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.