View Full Version : Leaded Stained Glass Window Tutorial

11-05-2007, 01:22 AM
Came Leaded Stained Glass Window
This tutorial on Came window is a little photo intensive, so read the text while you are waiting for the photo's to load. This window was made at a customer's request. The colors selected were to match a oriental rug in the room where it will hang in a window.


The very first step is to draw the pattern. An accurate pattern is hard to make. I had the devil's own time getting it square. You would think with a metal "square" it would come out square, but it didn't. I then did the fold the paper in halfs, eights, forwards and backwards . Then you need to make your glass pattern pieces. Then you need to make a carbon copy of the pattern on the material you will use for the pattern cutting pieces.
I tried a different technique a friend uses, using contact paper for the pattern pieces. This is fine for when you are going to make only one copy of something, whether it's a one time project or simply an odd sized project you won't make again. The contact paper sticks to the glass and doesn't come off when wet grinding. You do have trouble with cutting the pieces with foil scissors, so my suggestion is to use very tiny, tiny cuts 1/8-1/4 inch at a time. Be sure to keep your pinkie finger on the scissor end, as this helps stabilize the scissors in an even angle for cutting. After one complete line is cut, stop and pull out the contact paper and packing from the middle of the scissors before starting the next line.


Next you have to make a jig board on which to assemble your creation. I had several on hand, but of course, none the right size for this piece. So down to the store to buy plywood and furring strips. You want to use a metal square in making this, as you want your wooden corner to be square as it is where you start assembling your work.


Now you are ready to cut out the glass you have selected for the project. I am very particular on how I cut out glass, as I feel almost all glass has a "grain" to it, even the clear glasses that are supposed to be multidirectional such as clear German new antique and gluechip that I used in this pattern. Many people balance the cost of the project against the artistic balance of the piece and the cost usually is the winner. Not with me. In this picture you can see the best and cheapest way to lay out the pattern pieces. In clear cathedral I would probably use this method. However, I chose to use the better method of having the glass pieces all line up together for what I perceive to be the grain of the glass. As you can see, you will have more scrap glass this way. Be sure to mark on the uncut glass, which direction the pattern pieces were laid out, incase you break a piece and later need to recut one.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/04-Nov-2007/10673-CMC.JPG http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/04-Nov-2007/10673-CMD.JPG

You should cut out your zinc borders before you start fitting glass. I usually use a 45 degree angle on my end cuts as this is more aesthetically pleasing. I also feel it is stronger, especially to when you come to solder the hanging rings on the piece you can solder them to each side of the frame. A square cut on the zinc, would create a larger area to cover with solder, as well as a hole showing the inner zinc construction. I usually solder the first zinc corner right away, as this corner will remain in place throughout the entire construction of the piece, and you don't want it moving.


I wait to grind the pieces until I fit them to the pattern. Technically, if your pattern is cut out correctly everything should fit exactly - Hah! So first I grind the piece to the outer rim of the contact paper, so you do not see any glass outside the contact paper when you hold it up to the light. Do not do any extra grinding as came windows need less space between pieces than copper foil windows. Then I slip the glass piece, after I have marked it's pattern number on it, into the lead came and check around all it's sides that it is staying inside the black line. If not, I mark the area where more grinding is needed and take it back to the grinder. I do each piece one at a time in this manner as I work my way up through the window.


6. You start placing glass in the corner, in the zinc border and work your way up and out of that corner. You try to build it in layers, one up from the other, so you don't box yourself in and have to take it apart inorder to fit in a piece of glass. You use horseshoe nails to hold the glass in place. You use scraps of lead against the glass, before you pound your nail next to it. There are two sides to the nail, you use the flat edge side against the came. As you put your came against the glass, you cannot always tell if you have the glass slipped into the came correctly. I use a horseshoe nail under the glass, which helps prop it up to the correct height for the came to slip under it. I use a fid (the red one) to push the came into the glass more securely.


In cutting came, you can use a came knife or nippers. The nippers are easier to use and quicker and are best for most cuts. Depending upon which way you hold the nippers, you get a straight cut against the metal, or a wedge shaped cut. You never use the wedge shaped cut in came work. So this means you have to pay attention to what you are doing, and sometimes reverse either the came piece or the nippers to always get a straight cut edge. The came knife is good for getting sharp pointed cuts. You also use the came knife to score the came as to the point where came intersects came, and you need to mark off the cutting line for the nippers. When you use a came knife to cut came, you place it on the top of the came and rock it back and forth with a downwards pressure and it will slowly cut the came without crushing it. Nippers will crush the came in these types of cuts.

Here I am almost to the end of the panel. I managed, by planning, not to box myself in. This meant the middle portion had to be completed before I could start on the end. You have to think and plan out your moves ahead of time, sometimes you have came dangling, as those around the star, waiting for the next piece of glass.


The end is in sight! Only have to slip in the last piece of glass and then slip the zinc border laying behind it over all the pieces of glass on that side. I then secure the border with nails and get ready to square the panel before soldering.


This picture shows several things. The basic tools needed for this project. At the top is a brush, to clear away glass particles and other debris on your table. Then the green nippers for the came cuts, a lead knife, a marker and fid. The soldering iron, flux in the jar, and flux brush and solder to assemble the panel permanently. Then a mallet to help get glass into the came and finally, what this picture shows, is a L Square that I use on the projecting corner to make sure the panel is square BEFORE I start soldering it. The opposite corner is square, because that is where the beginning corner is in the squared jig .


11-05-2007, 01:23 AM
The panel is all soldered and I am doing preparation before beginning to putty it. On this panel, I used glue chip, which has fractures to the glass and the dark putty can get into those little fractures and make the panel look dirty from the black putty. So to protect the glass during putty, I covered just the glue chip pieces with masking tape, then used an exacto knife following the edge of the came to cut away the excess masking tape. Then I was ready to start the putty process.


This is hard work! I used a spreader and scoop the putty out of the can, and then shove the putty up to the came edge as hard as I can, to force the putty under the small lip of the came and into the tiny space between the came and the glass. I go back and back again, to make sure it is filled in completely without air spaces. On half the picture you can see the soldered joints without putty, and the gooey putty side. You do one side first and then you flour it with whiting.


This is the whiting. It's chalk and it's needed to make the putty set up and harden. Otherwise it would continue to ooze out of the joints, especially when it got hot. You use a scrub brush to make sure you get the whiting into the putty under the came. You keep scrubbing away, and pretty soon the whiting turns color absorbing the excess black putty. This whiting and scrubbing also helps clean off the excess putty from the window.It's very messy and best done outside, or else wear a dusk mask and have a vacumn cleaner close by if done inside the house.


Most people like a black patina finish to their came. There is a special patina for ZINC that I use on the borders, and then regular black patina for the actual came. You brush this on carefully. Some people use Q tips to put it on, to prevent it from getting on the glass. Some glass will absorb the patina and leave a Halo effect around the perimeter that you CANNOT get off. After it has dried I then use Chem Pro waxing compound on glass and came to clean panel and polish it up.


Finished Product!



CC Maureen Kennedy 2007 -Not to be published nor maintained electronically on any other person's website I give permission for this tutorial to be on Wetcanvas website for instructional purposes only. I do not give permission for anyone to copy this tutorial and publish in any written or electronic form any where else.

If you want an easier page to print this out, you can get it from my website at http://members.aol.com/mkennedy1/came.htm

11-05-2007, 09:13 AM
Perfect! Thank you Maureen. Val

11-06-2007, 05:57 PM
I did not know that we could reply here. Thanks Maureen. I really like your tut. You did a wonderful job. and even though I am a stained glass artist also I learned the masking tape thing. Boy that is a good hint I did not know it. and have spent hours scrubbing in the past. One of the reasons why I don't do leaded glass more often.
Thank you.

Capt Elaine
11-07-2007, 06:23 AM
Wow... Maureen... that is amazing! :clap:

11-18-2007, 10:29 PM
What I didn't tell you here, but is on my web page - is that UPS broke this window twice. The first time I had buyer send it back to me so I could make UPS claim, it was like an elephant had sat on it. So it was really bowed out by about an inch. I had to remake the entire window for the buyer and UPS only cracked one blue piece the second time. I told buyer to take it to their local stained glass shop for repair estimation cost, and had them repair it locally. Oddly enough, I left the first bowed window out on the patio, laying down, and within a week the bowed section had completely gone flat again (the heat of the California sun warmed the putty and lead) - that's how long and much longer it takes that putty to set up and become hard. If you know something will always be left indoor, you don't need to putty and white a panel, but it will rattle a bit. But if it will be installed as a real window, with one side facing weather elements, then you have to putty and white it so that water will not come into the home. I still have the first broken one of these windows.

The copperfoil circular panel I had to make 3 times! The 3rd shipment thru UPS made it OK with no damage. At that point I gave up doing any more large windows or panels that had to be shipped thru UPS - I lost money on each of these projects because of multiple times I had to make them.

Valerie Keenan
02-02-2009, 03:48 PM
just a quick coment on not puttying or cementing a panel that stays indoors. I have been building stained glass windows for 13 years and have been running a studio and teaching for 7 years. You do need to putty any window because of the nature of the lead being used, it will move over time even after being stretched, as lead is a soft metal. I do a lot of repair jobs just because someone didn't finish there window with putty and over time the lead moved and the window began to fall apart so do yourself a favor and finish all of your leaded windows with putty and make sure to put in proper reinforcement on large window.

Dennis Brady
02-03-2009, 10:51 AM
just a quick coment on not puttying or cementing a panel that stays indoors. I have been building stained glass windows for 13 years and have been running a studio and teaching for 7 years. You do need to putty any window because of the nature of the lead being used, it will move over time even after being stretched, as lead is a soft metal. I do a lot of repair jobs just because someone didn't finish there window with putty and over time the lead moved and the window began to fall apart so do yourself a favor and finish all of your leaded windows with putty and make sure to put in proper reinforcement on large window.
Ours is a commercial glass studio that has produced well over 1000 windows over the past 25 years. I take a totally different view and believe that, while reinforcement is needed, putty is not needed unless the panel is installed in a passage door or exposed to the weather. I believe puttying all lead is like stretching lead - it's an antiquated practice that is done for no reason other that it has traditionally always been done. Here's an explanatory article:

02-05-2009, 10:17 PM
That's awesome Maureen! Thanks for sharing.