Hey there! Thanks for calling by. You remember how we got here?
I rashly said let’s talk about something other than glass painting for a change …
And it was all because someone left me!
I reckon it’s best if we chop things into two sections.
Right now we’ll look at over-soldering and adding a patina.
Next time round, we’ll look at gold leaf.
And now, to give you a sense of where we’re going this time and next, here’s gold leaf on top of an over-soldered lead.
Now before anyone throws up their hands and says, “Oh my gosh, how vulgar!”, let me just say the gold lead had a purpose, and there’s a moral here for anyone who’s interested in stained glass design.
This is a small front door panel.
In particular, it’s one of two panels – I’ll show you the other one in just a moment – for two luxurious holiday cottages which are set in the middle of a sprawling apple orchard about 30 miles from here.
So the idea was for us to design and make two panels which could “brand” each one of these two cottages on all the relevant literature.
And also to give newcomers a visual means of quickly knowing whether they’d gone to the right cottage.
Here’s the other panel:
See what I mean?
In the daylight, as you approach each cottage, you can’t see the painting until you’re really close but you can see the glittering colour of the lead work.
So that’s why we used leaf.
I just wanted to reassure you that Williams & Byrne never decorate for decoration’s sake. Oh no, it’s got to have a function.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This is all for next time. This time it’s …
Over-soldering and patina
Over-soldering is when you apply a layer of solder over the entire surface of all the leads.
(We’d usually do this after the cement has dried.)
This will get all the copper-foilists really hopping mad – they’re all so keen on soldering being super-smooth – because the point of over-soldering is to leave a slightly rough and artisanal surface.
You see it makes a change from dull flat lead.
Also … it gives new strength to a panel.
To be clear, our main reason is always decoration (we get our local blacksmith to forge us some lovely shaped tie-bars whenever reinforcement is required).
So we tend to over-solder for panels which get examined close-up.
That’s why we over-soldered the Fibonacci window: it’s the entrance to a large Victorian rectory, and, strange to say, all kinds of important businessmen are forever coming and going for meetings with the hyper-active and mathematically super-endowed owner.
Yes and we also over-soldered the literary agent’s rose window as you can see just below:
And that’s why – meaning, decoration – we over-soldered Kate Charles the crime writer’s window: nothing to do with her being a crime writer and thus our being fearful of a mysterious accident …
Actually it’s on a stairway landing, and writers and bishops and journalists and CIA agents and diplomats and Oxford historians (I kid you not) are forever walking past.
Here’s a shot – Sorry, Kate, here’s a photograph – of it just before it left the studio for installation:
So a nicely texture layer of solder over the entire surface of the lead is what we’re after.
Once that’s done, we let the panel cool, de-grease it (very important), then apply a patina to give a bronze-like look to the work.
Big and small
You can use this technique for architectural stained glass like the pieces above.
You can also use it for autonomous panels and wall-lights.
And also, as you’ll see today, for hangers and sun-catchers.
It really makes them stand out.
Enough talking – let’s watch the show!
Just sit back and hit the Play button.
So you see how it’s done?
- You might burn through the lead in places
- You might crack the glass
- The patina can damage paint and enamel if it gets in contact with them
Just balance the risks against the benefits.
Practice before you do it for real.
- Solder fumes
- The retained heat of the leads for many minutes after you finish soldering
Just ventilate your workplace properly and don’t touch the panel until it’s cool.
Your own tips
Herman van Rongen, a colleague from the Netherlands, says: to control the darkness of the patina, you can add water to dilute it (e.g. 1 part water to 5 parts patina). Certainly worth trying if your patina makes the leads too dark.
And here’s a comment from a colleague, Margie Cohen, in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania:
I have a visceral response to the words “patina” and “glass paint” used in the same sentence. I even get the creeps hearing the two words used on the same day. People have to be really really careful because it’s just so easy for patina to run tracing paint. And if you get it on enamel … Well, even diluted patina will ruin (as in, “it will disappear”) your beautiful enamel or rouge paint in a split second. So be extra, extra, EXTRA careful with patina and painted glass
Especially watch out for …
- Don’t apply the solder too thickly. The whole idea is to spread it fairly thinly. A little blob on the end of your iron will go several inches
- Don’t let the iron get too hot or too cold: use a “snake” of lead just like you see in the video
These are really important tips.
You have been told!
OK so that’s all for now.
Next time you’ll see how to apply gold leaf.
Feel free to ask questions and we’ll always tell you what we know.
All the best,
P.S.The saint’s head was first traced with water-based stained glass paint (see Part 1 of Glass Painting Techniques & Secrets from an English Stained Glass Studio) then shaded with oil (all as described in Part 2 of Glass Painting Techniques & Secrets from an English Stained Glass Studio).
P.S. And this is really important – if you want to know how we shaded the back of this saint’s head with silver stain – I mean, how confident are you with shading and blending silver stain, and knowing it’ll fire correctly? – then you really must go here and discover the proven techniques. Click here.