There are differences in the finished product depending on the construction method. The pattern usually dictates which method will be best, but in some cases the desired outcome will be the deciding factor in using lead came or foil.
The first step for either method of construction is a good design. A drawing is made of the design which consists of all necessary cut lines. Glass can only be cut in certain ways, so there are times that extra lines are required for the actual glass piece to be cut. When extra lines are required, every effort is made to incorporate them into the design itself.
After the design is finalized, the method of construction is decided. As an example, lead came is recommended when there are straight lines; while foil is used when there are many small pieces, to allow the glass to be seen and not lost inside the lead channel, as well as more versatility with line width. If there is a preferred method of construction, the design is made with the construction method in mind.
Paper pattern pieces are then cut out as templates for each glass piece. Depending on the construction method, a different width is left between each piece to allow for the lead came or foil between pieces.
Glass is meticulously selected for color, transparency, pattern and texture for each piece of the design. Glass pieces are cut individually from sheets of glass using a glass cutter and pliers; then the edges are ground smooth for a better fit inside the lead came or to allow the foil to adhere better.
The lead came method requires three steps: cutting the glass, assembling the pieces by fitting them into the lead channels and soldering the channels at the joints to hold the glass together. Lead came results in straighter, more uniform lines between glass pieces. Simpler designs with larger pieces are usually done in this method.
The foiling method requires an additional step of wrapping each piece of glass with foil tape before soldering. The entire seam is then soldered by allowing solder to flow between the glass pieces and building up solder lines on each side of the design. The flowing solder and build up creates strength to hold the pieces together like lead came. The lines are more irregular. In some places, intentionally varied widths give character to the final outcome. On free form pieces, the entire outer edge is built up with solder for strength and a finished appearance. Only tinning the foil edges to change the color does not hold the final stained glass piece together and will result in pieces pulling apart. The required extra step of wrapping the foil, soldering the entire seam lines & edges and working with smaller glass pieces results in a more expensive finished piece. However, more detailed designs can be achieved using this method and the cost is well worth the outcome.
Larger stained glass panels in both methods can be framed with stronger zinc channel.
All designs and photos remain the property of Julie Bubolz, Imagination Creation and stainedglassbyjuliebubolz.com and may not be copied, downloaded, duplicated or used in any way without the express written consent of Julie Bubolz.