Stained Glass (Copper Foiling) Taster

A few weeks ago, I took part in a glass fusing workshop run by Jason Leggett of Gift of Glass – you can read about that post here.

This time, I went to a workshop run in Jason’s studio to make copper foiling – a technique that emulates the effect of stained glass and can be replicated at home.

The first job was to select the pieces to create a design. As I’ve been feeling very festive recently (and to continue the Christmas tree theme from last time), I opted for a few pieces of green and one of red to make a simple Christmas tree ornament.

Key supplies for copper foiling – cut glass pieces, copper foil tape, scissors, solder, soldering iron, flux and brush, water (for hydration!). / Photo: JELOUdesigns

Then we could begin the copper foiling process – carefully wrapping adhesive copper tape around the edges of each piece of glass and burnishing with a Sharpie pen to ensure a secure fix.

Wrapping copper tape around the edges of each piece, then folding over and burnishing (flattening) with a Sharpie to ensure a good fix. / Photo: JELOUdesigns
All pieces foiled and burnished! On to the soldering… / Photo: JELOUdesigns

Next, we used the soldering iron to dab small pieces of solder on the joins between the pieces to tack them together. For larger designs, Jason explained you can also use pins or a frame to hold the piece together whilst you work on it.

Blobs of solder to tack pieces together. / Photo: JELOUdesigns

It was at this point that I realised I had forgotten to brush flux over my joins! You can see from the photo above that my solder is a bit lumpy – flux is a sticky substance that helps the solder to easily flow across the surface of the copper without spitting or pulling away from the copper, so it’s vital to remember to do that first.

Once flux is applied and pieces tacked together, the next step is to apply the solder in an even coat across all edges of the copper tape – the front and back and the sides. Professionals try to do this in a “beading” way to mimic the rounded effect of lead piping you’d see on stained glass windows, however I think I still need to work on my technique! Happily, the solder is very forgiving and still looks OK from a beginnner’s hand once polished.

All copper surfaces successfully soldered! / Photo: JELOUdesigns

The last step is to clean and polish, before applying finishing touches such as hooks and ribbons. I chose to keep my solder silver so just polished with a cleaning cream to give an extra shine, but there are patinas available in black and copper if you’d like to give a more authentic lead or antique feel to the piping.

The finished item complete with hook and red Christmas tree ribbon. Very meta! / Photo: JELOUdesigns

I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop, and it was pretty quick and straightforward to do. Since supplies are fairly inexpensive, it is something that is possible to do at home. I’ve added a soldering iron to my Christmas list, and can’t wait to see what Santa brings me! I have some great ideas of items I could make for my Etsy shop for Valentine’s Day and beyond, once I’ve had a bit more practice!

Thank you, Jason, for a really fun workshop!

===== Summary =====

Suitable for beginners? No prior experience is necessary. Basic techniques are simple to learn and you can make something very effective, though some elements can be tricky (e.g. fixing the hooks, getting an even beading of solder).

Minimum age? I recommend 14+ with adult supervision due to the (small) risk of glass shards, use of soldering equipment (it’s very hot!) and therefore potential injury. Protective equipment is a must!

Accessibility? Tools are available to help with breaking glass, as this can be tricky.

Fun factor? 10/10 – it’s easy to make something that looks great with a little effort. Though the techniques are simple to learn they are hard to master, especially when trying more complex patterns, so there is plenty of room for challenge. Equipment can be expensive to buy for home use (soldering irons need to be temperature controlled for safety) and although materials don’t cost a lot it can be tricky to find a good supplier. It is definitely worth going to a class to try it out – I would have loved the opportunity to make multiple items and try more complex techniques (like curved glass), but this was only a quick workshop.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I was not asked by Jason Leggett of Gift of Glass to write this post nor given any incentive from him in exchange for writing it – I paid for my own ticket, and it is purely a record of my own experience. 

Links marked with * indicate affiliate links through which I make a small commission (pennies!) if someone clicks through to an item and makes a purchase. I only link to products I have used or would actually use. Links without a * are not affiliate links.

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