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Stained Glass/size of copper foil project


QUESTION: Hello!  I am just starting out, and am planning on beginning in copper foil.  I have a bazillion projects in mind, but what is the maximum size a person should consider making a copper foil project?  I would like to know my limits before I segue out into lead came work.  I have two particular small transom projects in mind, but suddenly a window needs a hanging "window cover" of 42" by 30" project instead of a curtain in it, and now I have another project in my head.  It would be made of colored rectangles.  Very simple artsy project.

ANSWER: Hello Karen.
By it nature copper foil is stronger than the lead method.  And in copper foil you can brace internally instead of using the rebar across the piece like is done in lead.  The bracing is steel coated in copper and is like a thin narrow ribbon.(about 1/8"wide)  It is sometimes hard to find. You use it between the glass in points that will be weak and just solder over it and it is hidden inside the solder seam.

But even a medium large piece of copper foil can use the added strength of a wood frame.  Most glass when installed is sitting on a window seal so that also supports and adds strength.

Your project sounds very nice like a Frank Lloyd Wright.  Check out his glass work. Most people do not even know he did glass designs.

Just be sure you check all your measurements and you have some help to set the glass in place and fasten it in. I am repairing a piece right now that is 20" x 47" that the "Dad" dropped because he was going to install by himself.

good luck and happy cutting. You can see some of my junk  

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: So, basically are you saying there is no size limitation to copper foil method if you strengthen internally and frame properly?  I don't plan on a huge presentation, but I do like copper foil over the look of lead came.  I just don't want to ruin a lot of beautiful glass just because I am being stubborn. Thanks again!

Well Karen...  There are limitations on everything.  Some times it is just using best judgement.  

If a piece is extremely large you might consider doing the pattern in separate panels but continue the design through the multiple panels.  Each is easier to move and handle and stronger.  If a LARGE piece gets broken the entire thing has to be moved and handles and turned and flipped, and etc.  If the design is done in 2, 3 or 4 panels and you do a repair it is so much less traumatic.  The viewing is just as pleasing.

Solder for copper foil (tin and lead) has flexibility and a large piece certainly can move and flex.

Good luck

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lyn buerger


Questions about construction of stained glass using copper foil or lead. Repair, designing a pattern, how I go about helping my customers achieve their goals.


I've been doing stained glass for about 35 years. Teach stained glass in my studio and at the local University (UTA Eontinuing Edu)for over 25 years.

Many art related organizations, and several business organization Ecademy, RYZE, LINKEDIN.

Many trade magazine and have published several art/craft instrucitonal books.

Some formal college, but no degree. I just took classes that I thought would help me through life and did not work toward a degree.

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