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I am working on an art nouveau stained glass project.  The flower stem solder line in the photo and on the pattern appears to be much thicker than the rest of the solder lines.  It is a design element.  So far I have only worked used foiling and not lead came. I am a beginner!  How do I achieve this thicker line?  Can I use lead came for this one section and continue with the foil method on the rest of the piece?

Also, is zinc came my only option for the final frame (not interested in wood just yet) or can I use lead U came? My pieces do not exceed 10x15 inches.

Thanks so much!

My very first stained glass project (1967)
My very first stained  
Wow, Lacy,

Your question brings back memories from when I began more than 45 years ago. When I began, copper foil wasn't something I even knew about. I was buying very thin copper sheets and cutting it into 1/4" strips with tin shears. I can't tell you how many times I cut myself on the very sharp strips. My efforts improved substantially once I discovered copper foil.

I seldom do any copper foil work unless it is a repair of some sort. As a commissioned architectural glass artist, I work exclusively with lead, zinc, brass, and sometimes copper caming. I welcome you to the community of glass artists. I do, however, suggest strongly that you advance to working with other than copper foil if you intend to pursue stained glass seriously. Copper foil, contrary to some on the site here, simply is not adequate for architectural applications.

Now then, to answer your question. It is possible to build up your solder lines by going slower and with perhaps not so hot an iron. This can be tricky, however, and will require some practice and patience. Perhaps the simplest would be to apply a strip of copper wire over your lines and fill in on top and around the wire with solder. And yes, you can use lead in this situation. Lead comes in a wide variety of widths and heart heights so there should be something readily available for this application for you. In my studio I have lead with face widths ranging from 1/8" to 3" and varying heart heights. I suggest you try several of these possibilities to see which fits your particular situation. Do not be afraid to experiment with all kinds of techniques. You may invent something on your own.

As an aside, don't get enamored with the bright silver color of solder. It will oxidize and turn an unpleasant gray in time. A copper or black patina solution applied to you solder will complete your work in a more "professional" manner. There are  patinas for both solder, lead and zinc.

At your dimensions, lead would be perfectly acceptable for your project. Zinc might be a bit more sturdy and visually pleasing, but is not necessary here.

I hope this helps. If you have any further questions, respond again through this site. A picture of your project would be welcome and I am free to answer your questions. Best of luck to you in this exciting venture. Remember, the roots of this hobby and craft  go back more than a thousand years. It is a time honored vocation and avocation.

Please remember rate my response.
Best regards,
Carl Trimble
Trimble Studios

Stained Glass

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H Carl Trimble III


One of a kind custom design stained glass as well as other glass art methods and the restoration of stained glass. Inquiries regarding leaded, beveled, etched sand carved, and fused glass techniques are invited. Other methods, technical questions,history of the art and supply source inquiries also welcome. Information on the pro's and con's of protective glazing of stained glass windows. Visit for more complete information.


Over forty years experience in a wide range of techniques that include "stained glass", wood working and metal fabrication. Have worked from my own full service studio since 1977. Many major residential, commercial and religious installations from Charlottesville, Virginia and Atlanta, Georgia to San Diego California as well as much of the State of Texas

Professional Affiliate,Certified Trainer, and Preferred Provider for the American Institute of Architects, AIA, Dallas, Texas. I have served on the Board of Directors of both the Texas Fine Arts Association and the Texas Visual Arts Association

Bachelor of Fine Arts, The University of Texas, Tyler. Master of Fine Arts, The University of North Texas, Denton. Just a few hours short of a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

Awards and Honors
Many first place and best of show awards in both stained glass and fine arts competitions. Steady commission work for the past ten years has obviated any recent competitive activity.

Past/Present Clients
Most recent major commissions are for American Airlines CR Smith Museum; JFK Airport Terminal 8 stained glass; TXU Energy Plaza Thor stained glass. The Mansion at Turtle Creek, Dallas and and St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in Terrell, Texas

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