I design and build stained glass panels for windows doors, cabinets and room dividers
WHAT IS STAINED GLASS AND HOW IS IT MADE?
Glass is made by fusing together some form of silica such as sand, an alkali such as potash or soda, and lime or lead oxide. Colour is produced by adding a metallic oxide to the raw materials: copper oxide, under different conditions, produces ruby, blue, or green colours in glass; cobalt is usually used to produce most shades of blues; green shades can also be obtained from the addition of chromium and iron oxide. Golden glass is sometimes coloured with uranium, cadmium sulfide, or titanium, and there are fine selenium yellows as well as vermilions. Ruby-coloured glass is made by adding gold – needless to say kind of expensive!
A traditional leaded stained glass window is made of pieces of glass, held together by lead. the pieces of glass are about 1/8-inch (3.2 mm) thick and bound together by strips, called "cames" of grooved lead, soldered at the joints.
In the 19th century the copper foil technique was developed as an alternative to lead came to allow the construction of three-dimensional glass objects like lampshades, but it can also be used in windows. Copper foil works better for intricate designs with small pieces, because the technique makes finer lines between the pieces – you don't have the edges of the lead overlapping the glass. copper foil is also best for irregularly shaped pieces, whereas geometric shapes are better suited to lead.
The copper foil technique is much more labor-intensive. Each piece is cut, then ground if necessary for an exact fit. Then the edge of each piece is wrapped in copper foil tape. The edges of the copper tape are smoothed down over the faces of the glass and trimmed with a with a razor blade if necessary so the solder line will be as fine as possible. When all the pieces have been wrapped and the fit has been verified, the window is soldered front and back.
For some designs a combination of the two techniques are used. I use both techniques depending upon the design and the effect I am trying to achieve.