How to Make a Leaded Glass Panel

Use cut glass and lead/solder to create beautiful pieces of art. They can be small (a bird, butterfly, etc.) or larger framed pieces that hang in your windows or in your garden.

Steps

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    Find a pattern you like or make your own pattern. Simple quilt block patterns work really well for glass projects. Straight lines are also easiest at first.
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    Copy/trace the pattern, and write a number on each piece on both copies so you will have a guide when you assemble the glass. You always need 2 copies for each pattern--one to cut, and one to use for assembly.
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    Cut pieces from one of the patterns--making sure you follow the lines exactly. There are special scissors you can buy from craft stores or glass stores that cut enough space to allow for the lead between the pattern. I would suggest you invest in some if you plan to do this more than once.
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    Cut off the outside line of the pattern to allow for lead framing.
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    Choose glass to complete your pattern, and wash it to remove any dust.
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    Trace each pattern piece on the glass, paying attention to grain.
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    Cut glass shapes with a glass cutter.
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    Mark each piece of glass with the pattern number and and arrow for direction if necessary. Numbers not only help you assemble, they guarantee you will know which side goes up.
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    Place a sheet of clear glass over your pattern to protect it and lay each cut piece of glass on top to assemble.
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    Grind individual pieces of glass if necessary for a better fit.
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    Clean glass after grinding.
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    Use a square, and place lead came at right angles to start the left and bottom border.
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    Cut the came for the size of your border with square or mitered joints. There are special cutters you should use for lead came that make a cut without smashing the channel--available at craft or glass stores.
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    Fit each piece of glass into border came at the bottom and work up.
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    Space pieces evenly by sight.
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    Use pieces of came held by nails (or you can buy special holders at a craft or glass store) to stabilize edges as necessary while you "build" your piece.
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    Cut lead to fit around each piece--leaving room for next joint.
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    When all glass has been fit with came, cut and place the top and right border.
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    Secure the borders with came/nails to hold all in place.
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    Work in a well-ventilated area and be very careful with the hot soldering iron and lead.
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    Brush, flux and solder each joint on both sides.
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    When both sides are finished, run your hands over the seams to check for any roughness, and fix as necessary.
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    Use wire wrapped around a pencil to form simple circle holders and solder them to the corner(s) for a simple hanger.
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    Use paste cement to give the piece more stability and fill in any small gaps between glass and lead (also available in glass or craft stores).
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    Clean, dry, wax lightly with car wax, hang with a chain.

Tips

  • Keep a wet sponge handy to use if the soldering iron gets to hot and causes the lead to sputter.
  • Many glass stores will set you up with a beginner kit that includes tools and also offer classes for beginners.

Warnings

  • Pay close attention when you are cutting glass. Have Band-Aids on hand at your workstation.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area or wear something over your nose when you are soldering.
  • Wash your hands well after working with lead. There are also other options for came if you would prefer not to work with 100% lead.
  • Use the soldering iron very carefully. Place it on the stand it comes with while using and unplug when not in use.

Article Info

Categories: Glass and Stained Glass Projects