Stained glass has been used in architecture for thousands of years. The earliest surviving pieces are dated around 1100 A.D. Lead came is the traditional metal used to join pieces of stained glass. There are several parts of came. The face is the part of the came that will show when the stained glass piece is finished. The gutter is the slot that the glass fits in. The heart is the lead that abuts the edge of the cut glass.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Blocked stained glass pattern
- Lead came, U shaped
- Pieces of cut glass
- Lead came, H shaped
- Came cutters
- Came nippers
- Soldering iron
- Brass brush
- Solder 50/50
Place the blocked pattern on a firm work surface. A blocked stain glass pattern is a paper pattern that has been taped to a solid piece of wood. Blocks of wood are nailed on three of the four sides of the pattern. One side, usually the bottom, is left open to allow glass and came to be assembled.
Stretch the lead came. Stretching the came straightens and tempers the material. You can use a came stretcher, but the easiest way to stretch came is to simply position one person on either side of a length of came and have each pull. Be careful. Don't crimp or bend the sides of the came.
Cut the lead for the outside of the piece. Lead came comes in several forms, which are named for each individual shape. Lead came that is used on only one piece of glass is called U came. Cut the U came by first snipping both faces, then cutting the heart. Cut three pieces of U came to fit the top and sides. Slide them into place.
Slide the first piece of glass for the top of the project. Ideally all of the glass pieces would be cut according to the pattern when the assembly process begins. Start with one corner and work across the top of the piece. Make sure that the glass is all the way into the gutter.
Cut the next layer of came to fit between the assembled glass and the next pieces. Lead used between pieces of glass is called H came because it has two opposing gutters. These two gutters hold pieces of glass that abut each other. Cut all four faces of the came before cutting the heart to prevent crushing the came.
Place the next line of glass pieces. Place came between each piece as it is assembled. Continue to build the stained glass until the project is complete.
Cut the final piece of U came for the bottom. Press the came firmly in place.
Start the soldering iron. Allow the iron to heat while the joints are prepared.
Clean all the joints with a brass brush. The brush looks like a toothbrush with metal bristles. Apply flux to all the joints.
Carefully solder each joint. Allow the solder to drip into the well and fill any void in the joints. Try to keep the solder off the glass. Allow the solder to cool.
Remove the blocks.
Tips and warnings
- Place your pattern under plastic before blocking. This will protect your pattern for another project.
- Use great care when working with lead. Wash hands regularly. Do not eat, drink, smoke or touch your face while working with lead. Clean up any lead scraps or pieces quickly. Check with your local garbage collection, as some communities consider lead came hazardous waste.
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