Stained Glass Lead Came Technique
By [http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Fredrick_Blackwel/488357]Fredrick Blackwel
The lead came method of stained glass construction gives a visual aspect of uniform creases and an antique look. The lead channel is wrapped about the glass and then joined at the "seams" or joints by a bead of solder.
Lead came, employed for connecting to bits of stained glass, comes in one channel, called "U came," or two channel, "H came," strips about six feet long. "U" lead strips are utilized to frame the exterior edges of glass, especially on small suncatchers or ornaments with only two or three glass pieces. In larger glass projects, the "H" lead strips are employed to join two bits of glass together, placed inside the grooves.
Extending the lead strips before fitting it around the glass makes the lead more rigid and stronger. Some lead is pre-stretched, but might have acquired some kinks or bends in packaging, so you may like to stretch it a trifle to get the kinks out. Don't over-stretch as it will narrow the grooves in the channel, making it too narrow to adjust to about the glass. Lead that is stretched too much will break.
The lead is soft enough that after fitting it on the stained glass and ensuring that you have good connections, you can simply cut it with lead nippers, a lead knife or even scissors. Be cautious to make certain the joints you have cut butt so that it will be strong throughout the glass piece. Filling gaps between the joints takes a great amount of solder and makes the joints look sloppy and amateur.
Your stained glass work will be laid on a pine plank, beginning at two strips of wood nailed at right angles to each other. These timber strips will act as a support for your job. Your alternating pieces of lead and glass will be temporarily incorporated place by horseshoe nails as you progress across your stained glass pattern.
Each piece of stained glass and the lead strip approximately it has to adjust to within the pattern creases before you leave to the next piece. If one piece is too large and crosses over the pattern line, then every other piece will be off and your entire glass piece will be off.
Before you start soldering the lead joints on your glass project, you should practice on some scrap pieces of lead first. Lead melts so you need to check your soldering iron's temperature on the lead scraps first. If it is too hot, a rheostat can lower the temperature enough to avoid unwanted melting of the lead. A 40 watt soldering iron is hot plenty of.
Before you solder the lead joints, prepare the metal with flux, then move your soldering iron tip quick over the lead, creating a pool of the 60/40 solder. The pool of lead should smoothly flow over the seams and lie flat. It is not necessary to raise a big ball of solder at the joints.
Solder all joints on both sides of your stained glass plank. Clean the flux away with warm, soapy water. Reinforce the stained glass board by forcing a glazing compound or putty into the lead channels. Clean away all excess putty with whiting or sawdust, and then a soft cloth.
Another manner of joining stained glass, made by Louis C. Tiffany, is the copper foil manner of stained glass construction. The glass crafter can opt which method he/she prefers dependent on each individual stained glass project. Both ways of stained glass construction generally work equally well.
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