Here's how I went about the process of changing glass colors. This project is primarily not a repair (although one repair was done), but its a reconstruction, which requires different techniques.
In order to do this effectively, I needed to study the construction of the original panels and then duplicate the original process. I needed to match the glass and use the same width of copper foil so that the solder line width will match. I also wanted to reclaim the original, slightly aged brass frame. This also required special treatment. Here we go .. (Click on any photo to enlarge).
Many other of my blog posts cover repairs, so I won't include this one here, but below is a photo of a cracked piece of clear glue chip glass which I replaced before continuing with the glass replacement.
At this stage, I've cracked out and removed the piece of glue chip shown above. Since this open area now gives me access to the amber and the turquoise which I have to remove, I took this opportunity to carefully pull it out using needle nose pliers as shown.
Next, I slid a piece of a Manila folder under the cleaned up opening and traced a pattern for the replacement glass.
As I go deeper into the panel, I do not have access to the strips that must be replaced. So here I'm using the soldering iron to melt off the dome of solder which bonds the glass pieces together. I'm doing this to weaken the bond and make it easier to remove the strips.
Next, I'm working my way down the strip by using a diamond cutter bit on my Dremel tool. I'm cutting into the copper foil which is wrapped on each side of the glass. This is a potentially hazardous process because it generates very fine metal dust. I'm wearing a protective breathing mask and running a fan throughout the sawing process. If you click on the photo to enlarge, you'll see that channel made by the bit.
Below, I've applied copper foil to the clear glue chip (on the work surface) and I'm doing the same to the first piece of replacement glass. I'm using 13/64" foil instead of the more common 7/32" because I want a thinner solder line, which will match the existing panel. The copper foil is self-adhesive and is placed at the center of the edge of each piece of glass.
When the copper foil is in place, I use a "fid" or flexible flat plastic wand to press the foil onto the glass on all sides. This prevents any chemicals from seeping underneath.
I have a large stock of glass shards from a variety of projects through the years. I was able to find this one piece of turquoise Cathedral glass which is a good match to the existing turquoise in the panel.
Here, one piece of the amber strip has been replaced, as has one piece of the turquoise. (Note also the new foil around the repaired piece of clear glue chip glass).
Next, I apply Novacan Blu-Glass Liquid Flux to the copper foil lines and then I solder both front and back.
Moving along, Now three pieces of amber are replaced as well as two pieces of turquoise.
Here's an area where an amber glass strip has been removed. Before I prepare it for the replacement glass, I melt and scrape off any old foil and solder. I also use Goo Gone to remove the old adhesive, then wipe the borders down with a clean paper towel. This will assure good adhesion for the new copper foil.
Here I'm applying a strip of adhesive copper foil to the inner border.
Now all of the dark amber has been replaced in the panel. I'm now removing the metal hooks at the top of the piece. I'm melting the solder bond with the iron and then sliding off the hook with the needle nose pliers. Whenever I solder, I am wearing a protective breathing mask and I run a ventilating, filtered fan.
Now the original brass frame has been completely removed and all the amber strips have been replaced.
In order for copper foil to adhere properly, the edges of the glass needs to be ground down. In this panel, as in many others of its time, the original artist did not grind the glass. Therefore, I'm using a hand file to sand down the glass to prepare it for new copper foil. (The blue tape is on the glass for reinforcement as I work).
To assure a perfect fit for the new green replacement glass, I've numbered each piece of the blue and I'm using them as patterns. Below I'm tracing the green, getting ready to cut it.
Using the same rocking technique against the edge of my work surface, as mentioned above, I was able to remove all four sides of the cobalt blue border. (Blue tape is in place, for reinforcement).
Next, my husband Eric is re-fitting the brass frame to the new border. After he got the frame back in place, I soldered the corners and the appropriate spots along the lead lines. Then I soldered the hooks back on and gave the entire panel a good cleaning with "Kwik-Clean Flux and Patina Remover".
At this point, all of the glass which needed replacement has been replaced. The original frame has also been put back on, as well as the hooks. Here I'm applying Novacan Black Patina with an acid brush. This chemical reacts instantly with the solder, turning it black. After the solder has been patina-ed on both sides, I let it set for a bit, then clean it thoroughly again with Kwik Clean.
Then I cleaned the second panel and applied Stained Glass Finishing Compound to both sides of both panels. This serves to protect the patina and it gives the glass and the frame a nice shine. The panels will only need an occasional dusting from this point forward.
Please visit my website to see my custom windows and repairs (click here). And if you are on FaceBook, become a fan and I'll keep you up to date on all my stained glass projects. Call me any time at 201-600-1616 or email with your questions. Thanks!