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1st Leaded Came Project

After completing the 1st stained glass class in which we learned the copper foil method, I signed up for the 2nd class on learning the traditional leaded came method.

We got to choose from 3 different patterns, so I picked this one........

Glass Selection

I am not very good at figuring out a color scheme for 27 pieces!  I asked my wife to help. She used some coloring pencils and played around until she came up with this scheme...........which I like.........

I keep some inventory of Kokomo Glass at home, but I did not have enough different colors for this project.  I needed some orange and some purple.  We went to Hobby Lobby in Bloomington and picked out 2 sheets each of orange and purple.

2nd Night of Class

We spent the 2nd night cutting glass for our projects. Three out of 5 of us did not complete cutting all the pieces, so we have to finish at home.  In my case, 27 pieces is a lot to cut in 2.5 hours.  I was very inefficient at using the Morton gadgets for cutting rectangular pieces the same size, because I had not used it before...except a couple minutes of practice the 1st night.  The good news is I did not break a single piece while I was cutting it. The instructor suggested I cut the orange pieces so the "grain" of the glass pattern pointed towards the center, to draw the viewer's eyes to the center. I like that idea and used it.

I had to cut the remaining pieces of glass at home as a homework assignment. I followed the instructor's directions to not use a grinder on any of the glass pieces, except I had no choice but to use it to make the center red circle.

Class Session #3

We had our glass pieces already cut.  We "stretched" the long lead outside u-shaped border pieces and the H shape center pieces by attaching one end to a special bench vise, then pulling with plyers on the other end. You can feel a change in resistance when pulling hard which indicates you have stretched it enough. We then cut the long pieces into quarter size sticks to use on your project.

We got special plyers used to cut the lead to length. We also got a special knife to cut angles on the ends of the lead. We also got little plastic pieces you use with the horseshoe nails, to hold the glass in place. You are not supposed to put steel nails against glass, you are supposed to use the plastic with the nail.

You basically start in one corner, like a puzzle, then expand outwards doing the leading process.  I didn't get very far in class. I got 2 borders done and 1 curved piece #10............

A difference between leading and the copper foil method is the border. On copper foil, the outside glass pieces are cut to the border line. If you apply a zinc frame, the zinc adds very little to the over-all size of the assembly.

On leading, if the outside dimension of your piece must be accurate, like it is going to fit in a window space, then the outer glass pieces must be shortened to account for the thickness of the u-shaped lead border.  I did not understand this when I cut the patterns or glass pieces for this project.

One 2 pieces, we could wrap the lead around a rather short point..........

Here are more photos as I worked on completing the leading process........

I was almost done, then piece #7 broke on my while I was trying to fit the lead piece to it. I was not pushing too hard, don't know why it broke.  Got to cut another piece and grind it to size.

And finally, here it is all leaded up ready to solder........

Having the new grinder at home was invaluable to being able to complete the leading and fitting of the glass at home..........

This is the same model of grinder that we use at class. He has a 2nd grinder of a different brand.  Both models seem to work ok during class.  I bought this one because it had better reviews on Amazon.

It took me 5 hours after class, at home, to lead up this window.  When I got to the 4th class, I found this was typical with other students taking 4 to 5 hours also.

4th Class of Soldering

Instructor says you must use a temperature control unit for your soldering gun, set at 70%, or you will melt your lead. With 70% setting, you have a max of 6 seconds to contact the lead before you melt it.  You basically dab the iron onto the lead. You do not press down with the iron then move it sideways.  He had us practice on some scrap lead first, so we got the hang of it before soldering our windows.  We got done soldering after about 1.5 hours.  After soldering, we scrubbed with car wash style brush with some solvent neutralizer, then washed and dried.

He gave us a small stiff brush to clean the lead joints before soldering.

If you have gaps too big for the solder to jump across, you must fill each side with a little short piece of lead before soldering.

In the morning sun, after soldering it, but no glazing applied yet.........


5th and Last Class of Applying Glaze

We wore our old clothes and put on disposable gloves.  We mixed up the glazing compound, which is black and has consistency of pea soup.  We poured some onto the glass, then worked it in between the glass pieces and the lead channel using a brush. 

Then you get to remove all the excess glazing compound.  You dump on a whitening compound, which basically soaks up the excess glazing material. Once it has soaked for at least 15 minutes, you can brush the excess off the glass. We also used plastic picks to remove the excess right against the lead channel.  We repeated this process of picking and brushing at least 3 times, until all the excess was gone.

I asked about using sawdust instead of whitening powder. Instructor says you can use sawdust, but it is not as efficient as the whitening powder.

Here is the finished window in the morning the next day after completion.........

I guess I am now both a copper foil and lead channel expert :)












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