When Did Foil Replace Lead?

by Shelby
(Port Augusta)

When did copper foil replace lead?


Tiffany developed the copper foil technique in the late 1800s, so it's been around for a long time. However I believe it started becoming popular with the hobbiest in the late 60s.

Copper foil has not replaced lead, but a lot of places don't teach the lead technique anymore because the instructors don't know how to do it.

I do worry that it's a dying art because as more and more people become experienced with copper foil and want to teach, they won't be able to teach the lead technique because they never learned it...and so the snowball rolls!

There are many people that visit this web site that work with lead, and there are many stained glass businesses that work exclusively in lead, so it hasn't disappeared (and I doubt if it ever will). However, we need to get more people interested in the lead technique and revive teaching it in classes.

I'd be interested to know what other people reading this think about it. Use the comments section below to give us your thoughts.

Comments for When Did Foil Replace Lead?

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Jan 15, 2010
Lead not taught in Maine
by: Anonymous

When I asked my instructor about a lead class this was the reply. "Lead is to messy and takes up to much room to try and teach it" I am now looking for a new instructor.

Nov 20, 2009
Lead vs. Foil
by: Judi (Oklahoma)

I was taught the lead technique with some instruction in foil. My instructor stressed the professiuonal aspect of lead over foil in a finished project. I still prefer to use the lead technique and feel I get a more profesional looking finished project. To me foil seems tedious. I am thankful I learned both techniques but prefer to work with lead.

Nov 20, 2009
by: Cassandra

Hi Sue, I'm very glad when I was taught we spent most of the course on lead. We then touched on copperfoil. Lead still seems to be very big in Australia. I wonder if the scare on lead has put it to the back burner, it doesn't appear to be as big an issue here.
I think some people give up on lead too soon, which is a shame. If they persisted past the beginner issues, they may very well come to love lead, I do and I'm still having so much trouble with my soldering. After reading all the online forums I could find, seems a lot of people choose copperfoil over lead for this reason.
To me lead seems so much easier than fiddly copperfoil but I still wish you were here to help me with my soldering :)

Nov 19, 2009
by: Anonymous

When I took my stained glass class, foil was all they taught. After seeing so many beautiful antique and new windows done in lead, I would prefer to do lead. From taking a broken lead window apart, it seems that lead is a little more forgiving on the exactness of your cutting too. That suits me great. It also seems it would be sturdier. I can't find anyone in San Diego that teaches lead, but I'm still looking. Even videos would be hepful. If anyone knows of any classes or videos, let me know.

Nov 18, 2009
Lead vs. foil
by: Lisa Seger

I learned the foil technique first, and find it much easier than lead. I do use the lead technique for some things, and often combine the two techniques. But since I am self-taught, I am sure I could benefit from some leading classes. Unfortunately, you are correct in saying that finding classes in the lead technique is getting difficult.
I will be opening my own stained glass shop in the new year, and plan to offer classes in the foiling technique. If I am able to improve my leading skills, I would consider teaching some basic classes in that technique as well. Do you have any links to share on leading tips and techniques?
Thanks, as always, for your wonderful, very helpful website!

You'll find a complete lead tutorial on this web site at Lead Came

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