Making stained glass art is done in two different ways: copper foil technique, or lead came. Below is a brief description of each process.
Copper Foil Method
The copper foil method is often used when there are smaller glass pieces, or when a more organic finish is desired. Each piece of glass is cut (according to the pattern/cartoon). Copper foil tape is wrapped around the edges of each piece, and then burnished so that the tape is flat and without wrinkles. At that time, the piece is soldered everywhere there is copper foil. Patina can then be applied on the solder.
Lead Came Method
The lead came method involves cutting glass into pieces (according to the pattern), and “leading it up” with lead came. Lead came are long strips of lead, usually 6 feet long, that can be easily cut and then manipulated according to the pattern. While building the piece, horseshoe nails (with a hammer) hold the pieces (and came) in place. Once the piece is complete, the joints are soldered and putty is applied. Putty (i.e. boiled linseed oil and whiting powder) is “pushed” into the spaces between the lead came and glass — this provides structure to the panel, while ensuring that repairs to the piece can be made easily in the future.
To learn more about stained glass, take a stained glass class with us!