Making stained-glass photo frames is a good project for beginning glassworkers. Start with simple, squared lines and use more complicated designs as you become more skilled working with stained glass. Create your design around any size photo or picture.
Place the clear glass on your work space. Use clear glass cut slightly smaller than the actual photo, by about 1/4 inch. For a 5-inch by 7-inch photo, use a piece of clear glass 4-3/4 inches by 6-3/4 inches so you don't see the edges of the photo. Lay out pieces of stained glass in a variety of colours on the work space.
Fill the pistol-grip cutters with glass oil. Pull the cutters across the surface of the stained glass to score the surface without cutting through the glass. Score along the glass' natural grain, not across it. Score squares and rectangles of the same height, such as two inches.
Clamp the running pliers along each score mark and gently press until the scored line breaks through. Continue until you have cut out each square or rectangle of stained glass. Arrange the pieces of coloured glass around the clear glass centre. Align them so you have an even border and squared corners.
Brush flux along each edge of each piece of glass where it meets another one, including the centre piece. Use the soldering iron to run solder where each piece of glass joins another in your design. Solder every seam of glass in your frame. Allow it to cool. Brush flux along the perimeter of the completed front piece. Solder the perimeter for a finished silver edge around the frame.
Flip the frame over so the back faces up. Cut two six-inch pieces and one 4-1/2-inch length of zinc "U" channel with diagonal pliers. Place the short piece of "U" channel at the bottom of the glass window, with the "U" facing the glass. Place the longer pieces of "U" channel on either side of the glass window, with the "U" facing the clear glass, and solder in place.
Slide the photograph into the frame through the open side of the clear glass and into the zinc "U" channel brace. Solder rings to the top of the frame for hanging.
You can notch one long length of zinc U channel and bend it into the photo brace to save time, instead of cutting and placing three individual side pieces. Use zinc U channel around the perimeter of your frame for a cleaner edge than soldering it.
Always work on a heat-resistant surface.