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Stained Glass Copper Foil & A bit of soldering info

Stained Glass Copper Foil & A bit of soldering info

Stained Glass Copper Foil

  And a bit of Soldering information.

Stained glass copper foil is used to wrap around the edges of glass and solder using an acid flux and solder for stained glass.


Copper foil comes in several thicknesses known as mil.

1 mil:

1 mil is very soft to the touch and that is nice if you are foiling by hand.

1 mil can lift when it is being soldered if the soldering iron is too hot.

1.2 mil

1.2 mil is usually the thickness of Silver back foil. 

1.25 mil

1.25 mil is the most commonly used copper front with copper back and copper front with black back.

1.5 mil

1.5 mil is the heavier of the thicknesses and most often the thickness of Silvered copper foil.  But, in some instances we have it in Master foil plus for a firmer foil.  When I use the 1.5 mil I am sure to tape my fingers so my skin is protected. 


Copper foil comes in different combinations of colors as well.

How to choose the foil backing for the glass to be foiled?  :

I keep a sample strip of each backing handy on my foil dispenser.  When I want to foil a glass I take all 3 sample strips and stick them to the glass and visually decide what foil to use.  Even though I have been working with glass art since 1980 I am still a very visual artist and the look of the day is what I decide upon.

Master Foil Plus:

Master foil plus is Copper front with a Copper backing.

We use Master Foil plus when a copper hue makes the glass sheen in a copper hue or on glass that is not see through.  Yellows, reds and orange hued glass can substantially benefit from having a copper hue that can show through in the art.  It is usually the least expensive of the foils in the size you are thinking of using.

Black Backed:

Black backed foil is used when we have clear or see through glass and are going to black patina our metals.  The black backing does reflect into the glass and then looks like it belongs with the works very nicely.

A nice surprise….

                While making a rose using a red / white wispy semi-translucent glass many years ago I decided to use black backed foil on a few of the flower petals.  What happened was neat, the black resonated a burnt red color in the petal and so it looked as though I used different glass in a few petals and it was pretty.  I began adding a black back to orange and yellow hued glass too and the same wonderful effect showed through.  Over the years I have made many and that has been very unique and enjoyable.

Silver Backed:

Silver back foil is great to use when we have glass we can see through or semi translucent glass.  The silver backing does not hinder the hue of the glass.  If we are planning on leaving our solder silver looking then this is the foil to go with for sure.  

Sticky Note….

Silver back foil is not as sticky as other backings and if we warm our glass up a bit then the glue is way more activated and sticks better.

Silvered Copper Foil:

Silvered copper foil is terrific if you want to just wrap and be done.  No soldering is required to have a nice looking pendant, charm for a bracelet or a project that needs wrapped but not soldered. 

New Wave Copper Foil:

New wave copper foil is really pretty and adds a perfectly scalloped look to our art. 

Copper Foil Sheet:

Copper foil sheet can be cut out with scrap booking scissors then applied to our art edge.

Copper foil sheet can be punched with scrap booking punches then applied to our glass art.

Copper foil sheet can be laid over dimensional things then burnish the shape into the foil sheet then applied to our art.

Copper foil sheet can be cut with Xacto knife for filigree looking overlays.

It can be soldered or left in its’ copper form. 


Copper foil comes in many widths.  It does need to be wide enough to wrap the glass so that it is a stable work of art in the end.

Fun thing:

The size of the foil does make a difference on the amount that goes on the edge of our glass and the overlap on the top and bottom of the glass.

With this in mind now you can imagine using wider foil and narrower foil within the same project in order to have a wider and narrower solder line.  I have used this technique often and it does make a huge difference in the visual effect on a project. 

Bit of History:

Louis Comfort Tiffany was the one that came up with the copper foil technique.  What he was trying to do is create the look of lead came without using lead came.  The lead came had a top, a bottom and a heart.  The heart was integral due to that is what holds the art together.  The top and bottom can be flat or rounded depending on the look the artist wanted to have.  With the copper foil technique Tiffany began doing overlays of glass on glass to achieve wonderful looks plus he used filigrees that were added and quite astonishing. 

Copper foil storage:

To store your copper foil to keep it from tarnishing or having the glue go bad simply put it in a good zip lock type of bag.

Great help:

Marking your core is a very good thing to do.  When I open a roll I write on the core of the foil the size of the foil and the front and back material.  7/32 C/C is what I write for 7/32” copper front copper back.  When we are at the end of the foil and our project is not quite done it can be daunting to know what foil size it was that we were using so we can move forward with the same look that we desire. 

Pin note, Solder note:

I use a piece of sheet rock that I tape the edges using a duct tape for a work base for soldering.  I do put a piece of Butcher Paper with wax back down, then my patter and then my glass pieces that are foiled.  I use push pins between my foiled art .  That does give the right amount of distance for the solder to go between the glass to create the heart that is needed for the integrity of the art.  I then flux and then tack solder, remove most of my tacks then slow solder using the chisel tip of the iron in the same flow as the line to be soldered.

  • At this point for soldering the heart I am holding my iron in hand like a bicycle handle.
  • When removing my tacks I turn them then lift.
  • My iron is almost flat on the line and I am light handed.

The soldering of the heart reminds me of watching lava flow.  If there is spitting of the flux during this soldering then I wipe some of the flux away using a paper towel.  Once that side is done I then turn over the project and add flux to the foil and continue flat soldering to make sure the heart connects well.  One must go slow enough to have the solder be a good solid heart.  If we go too fast we then make pockets of where flux gets stuck and then later in life comes out through the pours of the solder.  That is a white looking yuck on the solder lines that puts acid in the air of where it resides. 

Second Solder:

My second solder can be done with a nice rounded look or a decorative soldered look.  If doing a rounded look I hold my iron like a pencil and have the iron perpendicular to the solder line.  The way we hold our iron makes a tremendous difference on the look of the solder. 

It is my hopes that you have learned something from my sharing of this foil and solder information. 

Wishing you happy art times,
Irene – The happy glass art gal.

Copper Foil List of what we carry at the time of this post
Size MPN Mil Front / Back Coloring:
1/2" 1725 12 1.25 Copper front / Copper Back
1/2" 1765D 12 1.25 Copper Front / Black Back
1/2" 1665 12 1.5 Copper Front / Silver Back
1/4" 1725 14 1.25 Copper front / Copper Back
1/4" 1750 14 1.5 Copper Front / Copper Back
1/4" 1765D 14 1.25 Copper Front / Black Back
1/4" 1665 14 1.2 Copper Front / Silver Back
1/4" 1660 14 1.5 Silvered Front / Silvered Back
12" 1626 1.25 Copper Front / Copper Back
3/16" 1710 316 1 Copper front / Copper Back
3/16" 1725 316 1.25 Copper front / Copper Back
3/16" 1765D 316 1.25 Copper Front / Black Back
3/16" 1665 316 1.2 Copper Front / Silver Back
3/8" 1725 38 1.25 Copper front / Copper Back
3/8" 1765D 38 1.25 Copper Front / Black Back
3/8" 1665 38 1.2 Copper Front / Silver Back
5/16" 1766 1.5 New Wave Copper Front / Copper Back
5/16" 1773 1.25 New Wave Copper Front / Black Back
5/16" 1772 1.5 New Wave Copper Front / Silver Back
5/16" 1775 1.5 New Wave Silver Front / Silver Back
5/16" 1725 516 1.25 Copper front / Copper Back
5/16" 1765D 516 1.25 Copper Front / Black Back
5/32" 1710 532 1 Copper front / Copper Back
5/32" 1725 532 1.25 Copper front / Copper Back
5/32" 1765D 532 1.25 Copper Front / Black Back
5/32" 1665 532 1.5 Copper Front / Silver Back
7/32" 1725 732 1.25 Copper front / Copper Back
7/32" 1750 732 1.5 Copper front / Copper Back
7/32" 1765D 732 1.25 Copper Front / Black Back
7/32" 1665 732 1.5 Copper Front / Silver Back
7/32" 1660 732 1.5 Silvered Front / Silvered Back
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Pamela Lucas - December 30, 2020

Thanks Irene, this is a great reference tool.

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