This is my second post on the process of working in stained glass. Click here to read Part 1.
Once all the glass pieces have been cut, I use a grinder to smooth out the edges and correct any minor cutting errors. A glass grinder has a bit that is coated in diamond dust and a water reservoir that keeps the bit and glass from getting hot. Grinding is very, very messy as little pieces of glass get everywhere and it’s probably my least favorite part of the process.
Once all the edges are ground, I rinse the glass to get rid of any bits of glass or felt pen marks and then it’s time to foil the pieces. All of my stained glass pieces are made using the copper foil technique. This technique, which was made popular by Louis Comfort Tiffany, uses pieces of very thin copper tape to cover the edges of each pieces of glass. The copper tape that I use has an adhesive on the back, in Tiffany’s time, they used beeswax to attach the copper to the glass.
Copper foil comes in a variety of widths. I use 1/4″ wide foil for most pieces and 1/2″ for pieces where I am plating two pieces of glass together. Once the foil has been wrapped around the edge of the pieces of glass, I burnish the foil so that there are no air pockets and that the foil is well adhered to the glass.
The copper foil acts as an interface between the glass and the solder (which we will get to in Part 3) and gives the solder a substrate to stick to. Next step: soldering the pieces together!