Stained glass bevels are thick plates of angled glass used as dramatic accents in stained glass windows, doors, and panels. The angle of the cut can be slight or extreme but must be at an angle other than an L. This is because stained glass bevels gather sunlight within their prisms and cast the refracted light into a room as dancing rainbows. Some stained glass artisans make their own bevels, but they can be purchased from any stained glass supplier.
These bevels are often found in the abstract borders around a piece of stained glass. Alternatively, the regular, geometric shapes can be pieced together to represent an image. For example, five stained glass bevels that are arranged in a circle with their bases touching resemble a star. Some craftspeople create dramatic pieces using only bevels. These spectacular pieces fill a room with shifting colors, but because bevels are more costly than most other types of stained glass panels, these types of windows can be considerably more expensive. In addition, they must be carefully hung as they are heavier than stained glass pieces created without bevels.
Pieces with stained glass bevels are thicker than other stained glass creations. This gives the completed piece three-dimensionality not found in non-beveled pieces of art glass. Unless the stained glass bevels are extremely small, their weight means that they are impractical to use in pieces using the copper foil method. Most bevels require the greater security of the leaded glass method used in making larger pieces of stained glass. The bevels and other pieces of colored glass are fitted into long strips of channeled lead came; melted solder poured into the channels binds the glass to the lead.
Most bevels are made out of transparent glass. Clear glass refracts sunlight in ways that colored glass cannot, and the resulting prisms of color cast by a piece of art that contains clear bevels is much more dramatic than one made using colored bevels. Artists who use colored bevels are most likely more interested in the raised surface they create in a finished piece than in the bevels’ ability to refract light.
Stained glass artists who create their own bevels must be careful to grind and polish the sharp angles for safety reasons. Angled cut glass can be very dangerous and is as sharp as a surgical tool. Stained glass workers making their own bevels should wear goggles and gloves when cutting with a glass saw to protect themselves from the sharp glass as well as from glass splinters that might fly off and embed themselves into skin or an eye.