Mixing Lead Came and Copper Foil Techniques Adds Magic to Your Stained Glass
I have been asked more than once if it’s possible to mix copper foil and lead in one project. The answer is yes, you can absolutely use both techniques in the same project. The great master Tiffany himself did!
There are 2 reasons why you might want to do this:
1. Practical Reasons For Using Both Techniques in a Piece
- I find it very helpful to use both techniques if you have large areas alongside smaller more detailed areas. This is because leading lots of small shapes can be difficult.
- You can foil up the detailed area separately and use it as if it were a single glass shape which gets leaded into your panel (see foiled ‘glass shapes’ below)
Tips for Mixing Lead Came and Copper Foil
- You don’t need to foil the outside edges of the foiled ‘glass shape’. The lead came will cover the edges.
- If you leave the foil on the edge it can sometimes peek out from under the came, which you don’t want.
- Well spotted! I have foiled the outside edges in the photo above. Sometimes I find it quicker to foil all round as it saves you thinking about where the outside edge is.
- Don’t put solder on the outside edges of the foiled ‘glass shape’ as it will waste solder. The outside edges will be hidden once you’ve inserted it under the flanges of the lead came.
- When you solder the seams on the foiled ‘glass shape’, stop a tiny bit short of the outside edges. This will make it easy to slip the foiled ‘glass shape’ into the channels of the lead came.
- If you solder right to the outside edge the thickness of the solder seam (top and bottom) will make it harder to fit into the height of the lead came channel.
In my abstract door panel below you can clearly see the mixture of lead came with copper foil sections:
If you’re new to using lead came as a technique I would highly recommend you give it a try. It will add a great deal to your skill set and give you the best of both stained glass worlds – foil and lead.
If you don’t have a local class my Leaded Stained Glass Artistry course has taught many people – even those who have never used lead before – how to make a stained glass panel using lead came. The course is self-paced and online so you can learn this lovely technique even if you are unable to get to a class. You can find out more about it here Leaded Stained Glass Artistry.
2. Design and Aesthetic Reasons For Mixing Techniques Together in Your Work
Mixing lead and copper foil gives you a wonderful opportunity to use the qualities of each material to enhance the artistic quality of the panel.
Copper foil gives both movement and a lovely delicate organic feel and this can be contrasted with the straightness and visual strength of the lead came. Imagine a panel containing a house and a tree for example. You could use lead for the graphic house and copper foil for the organic tree.
My simple Freesia panel pictured below shows what I mean. I used copper foil on the flowers and contrasted it with the straightness of the lead for the stems and leaves.
Lots of people are happy to use copper foil in external windows but I’ve never done this as I consider the putty (or ‘cement’) under the flanges crucial for weather-proofing. This consideration aside, I absolutely love the combination and have never had any problems mixing the two techniques.
3. More Lead Came and Copper Foil Examples
Follower Joyce Paul highlights 2 possible difficulties in mixing lead came and copper foil:
1) in the construction process if the lead in the central design is rounded, it can sometimes be tricky to keep the foiled pieces level with it. You can use a penny underneath to hold them up. And, the round lead came will likely be higher than the beaded solder line on the foiled pieces.
2) in the patina process. Lead lines using the same patina as the foiled lines tend to take on a slightly different shade. This can used as an advantage but something to consider when designing a piece.
June constructed the left half in lead, constructed the center and carefully slid it into place then continued to finish the project. Fabulous examples aren’t they?
Has anyone else got any other thoughts on mixing lead came and copper foil together? If so, feel free to add them below, thanks 🙂
If you’re unsure which technique is best for which type of project I have a page on that here.