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How to Apply Copper Foil for Stained Glass Project

Updated on September 18, 2009

Copper Foil Accessories

Example of an authentic Tiffany Table Lamp featuring the "belted" dogwood pattern.
Example of an authentic Tiffany Table Lamp featuring the "belted" dogwood pattern.
Copper Foil dispenser - An invaluable tool of a stained glass artisan. It keeps your various spools of copper foil organized and allows you to pull out the foil as needed.
Copper Foil dispenser - An invaluable tool of a stained glass artisan. It keeps your various spools of copper foil organized and allows you to pull out the foil as needed.
Fid - Used to burnish the copper foil onto the glass. These come in various shapes and sizes. Some glass artisans even use a small pointer wood dowel.
Fid - Used to burnish the copper foil onto the glass. These come in various shapes and sizes. Some glass artisans even use a small pointer wood dowel.
Roller - Also used to burnish copper foil onto the glass. I use both the fid and the roller.
Roller - Also used to burnish copper foil onto the glass. I use both the fid and the roller.
Hand Foiler - optional. I've found they just get in my way and would rather apply the foil by hand.
Hand Foiler - optional. I've found they just get in my way and would rather apply the foil by hand.

What is copper foil?

Copper Foil Method

Copper Foil, when speaking in the terms of stained glass, is a method of joining pieces of stained glass together to make a complete piece of glass art.

The Copper Foil Method, also known as the Tiffany Method, was made famous by Louis Comfort Tiffany and his Tiffany lamps. To create his masterful lamp shades he used copper foil tape instead of lead came to hold his glass pieces together.

Copper foil proved to be more flexible than lead and allowed Tiffany to create 3-dimensional stained glass objects like his lamps.

Tiffany's Copper Foil Method is still used today.

Applying Copper Foil Tape to Stained Glass

In this process you use sticky backed copper foil tape and burnishing tools.

Copper foil comes in a standard roll of 108 feet and in various widths.

The most common width is 7/32" because that will wrap the standard thickness of a piece of stained glass. For thicker pieces of stained glass or glass with a heavy texture, you might go with a foil as wide as 1/2".

  1. From your copper foil dispenser, pull out a length of foil to cover one side of your glass piece.
  2. Pull the adhesive back away from the foil.
  3. Lay the foil flat on your work surface with the sticky side up.
  4. With your glass piece, center the cut, ground and cleaned edge of your glass on the foil and press the glass onto the sticky adhesive.
  5. Wrap all the cut edges of your single glass piece with foil in one continuous strip.
  6. Overlap the beginning of the foil with the end about 1/4 inch t 1/2 inch.
  7. Cut the foil with your scissors and stick down the remainder of the foil.
  8. With your fid, go along the edges and rub the foil onto the glass.
  9. With your fingers, pinch and fold the edges of the foil down onto the sides of the glass piece.
  10. With the roller, roll over and burnish all the copper foil on the sides of the glass.

Is your copper foil not sticking?

Tips:

  1. Before you foil your glass, be sure it is clean.
  2. If you use soap, be sure that it has a de-greaser in it. Regular soap will leave a film that gets in the way of the copper foil and the glass.
  3. Make sure your glass is totally dry. Any kid of dampness on the glass will prevent the foil from sticking properly.
  4. How old id your foil? Foil older than a year, if not kept properly, will not stick as well.
  5. Store your foil when not in use in a new, unused, clean paint can. The lid fits nice and snug so the copper doesn't oxidize.

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    • andrebreynolds profile image

      andrebreynolds 

      7 years ago

      nice hub.

    working

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