Friday, September 28, 2012

Repairs to Stained Glass Tulip Lamp

This beautiful lamp met up with an energetic toddler and ended up with at least 16 broken and cracked pieces.  The metal canopy was also crushed.  (That's the metal cap on top).  It has sentimental value to my customer's wife.  Here's how I'm going about repairing it. (Click on any photo to enlarge).

After careful examination, I marked each broken or cracked piece with a small square of blue painter's tape.  Here's the view from inside the dome.

The canopy was crushed and flattened on one side.  I'll fix that later.
 In order to preserve the stability of the structure of the lamp, its important to remove and replace every other piece.  Removing side-by-side broken pieces can cause it to collapse or get out of shape.  To remove the cracked glass, I score it with a pistol-grip glass cutter as shown below.  Then, using the brass end of the glass cutter, I tap on the glass until the piece cracks further and loosens up.  I also tap on the outside of the dome directly on the piece to be removed.
 For this operation, eye protection is strongly recommended.  Glass shards can go flying in any direction.  For whatever pieces don't fall out on their own, I extract them using needle nosed pliers, as shown below.
Below, looking at the inside of the dome, several pieces have been removed.
 The next step isn't shown .. I carefully melt out the foil around the edges of the piece of glass which was removed.  This requires use of a lead-protecting breathing mask.  I also use the needle nose pliers to pull off the foil.  Then I clean off the edge using a paper towel.

Next, I make a tracing of the opening, using an old manila folder for a pattern, as shown below.  The pattern is then used to make an outline on the glass.
 Below, I'm grinding the edges of the cut glass.  Sometimes further tweaking is required to get the piece to fit in the opening just right.  It can't be too tight or too loose.
 The next step is to cover the edges with copper foil, as shown below.  The foil gets centered on the edge.
 Then, using a fid, or flat plastic wand, the copper foil is pressed firmly onto the glass.
 Next, the inside of the opening gets new copper foil, as shown.  This is also pressed down using a fid. (You can also see the removed, curved piece of glass still has the original copper foil and solder in place at this point).
 Here (in silver) are several pieces which have been replaced.  The soldering at this point is rough and done just to secure the pieces.

 When soldering the outside of the dome, I place the lamp in a boxful of packing peanuts.  Solder needs to be applied at a surface that's perpendicular to the floor. This does the trick!
Its coming along well!  I'll continue to replace each piece as shown and will post another update in the next day or two.

Visit our website to see more repairs, custom windows, and testimonials from our happy customers.  Thanks!


  1. What an amazing glass creativity! are these individual panels separable?

  2. Hello and thank you!
    I'm not sure I understand your question. I think you may be referring to a different project. Generally speaking, yes, individual panels can be separated.