If you decided to repair your broken glass panel – Here are some hints:
For most designs, once you begin to dismantle the pieces, the panel will become more flimsy.
Take your time, and make sure you support all pieces of what is left at all times.
A blanket or cloth over a piece of plywood will allow you to move the panel pieces to the best, most accessible position as you work on it. The blanket will allow you to lay the panel fairly level but not create stress otherwise caused by different glass thicknesses.
Pry as much of the foil and solder as you can up away from around each piece of glass that you are trying to remove. A craft knife point and a lot of patience is best.
Position the panel so that the seam you will be removing is above a “waste” area and use a temperature slightly higher than you would normally use to solder. Heat up the solder seam and push the melting solder along until it drips away from the panel. Keep doing this until most of the solder is removed. Go around the broken piece area, repositioning the panel as you need the solder to flow in a different direction.
Once all the solder (or as much as you can manage) is removed from the foil, you should be able to pry it away enough to take out the glass.
Turn the panel over and follow the same procedure to remove the solder from the back. Once this is done, it should be possible to remove the foil from the broken piece while leaving the foil attached to the surrounding pieces. If any foil tears, you can re-wrap that area before you re-solder.
Choose the glass for replacement and trace the “hole” left in the panel to make a pattern for this.
Take care to match the texture, colour and any variations in the piece you removed (this is where the photos are handy)
You are aiming for the repair not to be noticeable.
If the break was caused by a weakness in the design, add copper reinforcing strip at this point to strengthen it.
Fit, foil and re-solder the seams around the repair site as you would normally.
Choose the patina to match the original one applied – test this on a test solder seam on some scrap glass first to be sure you have the match very close.
Finish and clean – Breathe out!
© 2009 Jackie Barnaby
All Rights Reserved
Repair or remake? That is the question..
This should have been an “after” photo but it fell during photography!
Now it is the before photo for repairing a stained glass panel.
STEP 1 : Assess the damage
Put the panel on a well-lit flat surface for inspection. (Watch out for small glass splinters)
Take photographs – the panel will look nasty during repair.
- How much of the panel is broken?
- Do you have appropriate glass to repair with?
o Check colour (in natural, back-lit and lamp light), texture of both sides, and thickness.
o Are colour variations in the broken areas a part of the picture.
o If this is a vintage or antique piece – seek professional help – don’t repair with modern glass unless you HAVE to!
- Have the breaks in the glass made the panel flimsy?
o Yes – the piece needs to be replaced and possibly reinforced.
o No – can you foil over the break and do a cosmetic repair without destroying the design.
- Are the breaks in the glass “clean”? – no splintering
- How much of the soldering and foil needs to be disturbed to get to the broken pieces?
At the first stage, you need to decide if it would be faster, cheaper or more enjoyable to make the entire panel from scratch; or, if a repair is even possible.
If you decide to repair, a close inspection at the beginning will make you familiar with the panel and could save a lot of trouble.
The broken peacock above is being repaired ~ The plain glass pieces are easy to match, cheap to replace and easy to get to. I have the added bonus that I still have a copy of the original pattern that I designed.
Finishing and Cleaning
Your panel looks a bit disgusting until it is cleaned and polished.
- First you must remove ALL of the flux and it’s residue from the glass and the solder. There are neutralizing products that will stop the flux from being caustic.
- One more thorough rinse is recommended once you think the panel is clean.
- Patina is the effect on the surface of the metal caused by a chemical reaction. There are premixed solutions available to change the solder from it’s silver color to copper, bronze and black. You can also mix a solution of copper sulphate (available inexpensively as crystals) Experiment with the strength of the solution to achieve the color you prefer. This is wiped along the solder joints to leave the desired effect, which will vary with the amount of copper in solution, the temperature at which it is applied and with the length of time you leave it before rinsing again.
- Before you apply a wax or polish finish to your panel, make sure it is completely dry. Pay close attention to the solder joints – rubbing the wax onto all of the surfaces as you apply it.
- Once a cloudy film is seen, you can begin buffing. Start at one corner and work your way across the panel, rubbing each piece of glass and it’s borders individually. Use a soft rag (not paper towel). Pieces of old sweatshirt work well. Use a clean piece as soon as the cloth becomes blackened. You must get all of the excess wax off on both sides of each piece of glass or a haze will appear. White crud will form at corners and along the edge of seams if you have not cleaned the panel completely before waxing.
If you decide to use hardware to hang the panel, solder it to a seam and take into account that the panel will probably need to be able to hang level. If you are adding hardware to secure a panel in a frame, space the hardware as evenly as possible and make sure that the panel is clean on both sides before securing it in the frame. Desoldering and recleaning is an annoying job.
© 2009 Jackie Barnaby
All Rights Reserved