Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Shamrock stained glass .. Repairing a poorly constructed panel

Stained glass creation is both an art and a skill.  Cutting corners (instead of glass ... pardon the pun) will only result in disaster.  My current project, a large stained glass shamrock panel is a good example of "how not to build a stable, well designed stained glass panel".

Before I begin, I want to thank decorative painter Joan Ginty of Heaven on Walls for referring my new customer.  Please call her if you're interested in expert faux finishing and mural painting.  Click here to visit Joan's website.

This 28" x 40" shamrock panel below was custom made by someone for my customer less than three years ago, yet it has already collapsed. Let's take a close look at "why".  (Click on photo to enlarge). I added the orange and blue lines to illustrate several points discussed below.
First of all, stained glass must always be constructed with stability in mind.  To that end, straight lines which run from edge to edge in any piece are called "hinges" and are to be avoided.  Notice the four orange lines which follow the solder lines in this piece.  They run from one edge straight to the other side.  Each of these four hinges have already caused several border pieces to break away.

A second problem with this piece is that it appears that the green borders were attached to the clear glass with old copper foil that had degenerated adhesive.  Copper foil has a long life but only if it is stored in a cool, dry place. 

The third reason that the green border separated is that the edges were never run through a glass grinder.  In order for copper foil to adhere to glass, it is imperative that the edges be ground first.  I have no explanation as to why someone would neglect to grind the glass before applying copper foil, but here we have an example of what happens.  Instead of lasting for 100 years or more, this stained glass panel has fallen apart very quickly.

A fourth illustration of how this panel was poorly constructed is that it was never bordered with channel.  Channel is a zinc metal frame that locks the pieces in place and strengthens the entire panel.  Without this reinforcement, you'll notice that the stress of moving the panel has caused one of the clear pieces to crack.  (Look closely where I made that blue line).  Framing with metal channel is essential with a piece of this size.

So my work is cut out for me!  Check back soon to see, step by step, how I resolve all of the issues with this stained glass panel.

In the meantime, please visit and "like" my FaceBook page, click here. and visit my website .. http://www.boehmstainedglass.com/.  Thanks!


  1. With a translator understand something of what you say, I find very interesting your comment
    a greeting

  2. Kathy,

    Fabulous work!!
    I loved the parakeet and especially the
    chipmunk with the red beret!!!
    so french.
    I hope you consider teaching this wonderful art.
    you explain every step so clearly.
    And the shamrock will be finished expertly,
    really interesting to see how to correctly go about it!!

    Love your blog. Keep up the great work.

    Joan Ginty