SLIDESHOW: Fixing Stained Glass Panel

Sometimes, older pieces develop cracked pieces of glass, and need to be fixed. In this case, we have a hanging stained glass panel with several pieces of cracked glass. This particular panel is copper foiled segments, soldered together, and wrapped in lead came. We will have to dismantle the piece, clean and re-wrap the salvageable glass, cut our new pieces, and reassemble the project.

We added a few new lead lines to this hanging panel. The pieces that cracked, did so because gravity created tension in certain spots. We will also re-foil the existing glass, and finish the metal by adding an antiquing treatment to the fresh solder, to give it a coppery look present in the original piece.

Beginning of Stained Glass Project

The Original Stained Glass Piece To Be Fixed

This is the original piece, before extracting the broken pieces and replacing them with new glass.
The challenge: This piece is wrapped entirely in H-shaped lead came. In order to fix this piece, we will have to take it all the way apart and put it back together again. The other thing to know is the glass here is copper foil wrapped and soldered together.

Putting the Glass Pieces Together

Some of the Broken Pieces

Here is one piece of glass that needs replacing, the blue sky portion of the piece. Part of the reason this cracked is this is a hanging piece. Because there are no lead lines on the top horizontal piece of glass, the force of gravity pulls down on this piece, causing tension, and eventually, the crack.

Adding Lead Came to Stained Glass

More Cracks We Ned To Fix

There were also some smaller cracks in this stained glass piece. This is a piece of green-blue swirled glass near one of the flowers.

Ading Cement to Stained Glass

Getting A Sketch of The Existing Piece

The first thing we need to do is get a charcoal rub of the existing piece. While we can save most of the glass from the original piece, we will have to cut some new pieces and fit them into the new piece. Getting a sketch will let us cut new pattern pieces from heavy construction paper.

Scrubbing Excess Cement From The Stained Glass

Dismantling the Original Piece

Here we go! Since we have an existing pattern for putting our restore piece back together, we start by melting the solder joints from the entire piece, and cleaning the glass for reassembly.

Dusting With Calcium Carbonate

Reassembling The Stained Glass Project

Using a carbon copy of our sketch, we take the dismantled pieces of glass, clean them, and re-foil them with copper foil. The original pieces of glass need to be cleaned, as we use flux when we melt the original solder away, and this leaves some residue that needs to be scrubbed away.
We match the placement of the original glass patterns against our copy.

Removing Last of Excess Cement From Stained Glass With Pencil

Cutting New Glass Sections

Looks like we have made some progress! In the background, you can see a piece of replacement glass we will use. We have to add a few lead lines for stability in the new version of this project. We also must find a good match for the original glass against what is available. Occasionally, an exact replacement is difficult, as certain types of glass are no longer being produced.

Polished, Finished Piece of Stained Glass

Soldering The Piece Together Again

With the new glass in place, we solder the lead lines together and re-frame the piece using H-shaped lead came. We have added some decorative lead treatment to the frame in our redone version. Next, we will clean up the stray bits of solder and flux, and polish the glass.

Stained Glass Restoration 8

Antiquing And Final Restored Piece

After the soldering and clean-up is finished, we go over the new solder with copper patina. This is a liquid that helps accelerate the process of making the lead solder look old and coppery. After a few applications of the patina, we clean the piece and it is ready to go back to its owner.

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