Patinas & Foil Tips

Why are there different colors of foil?
Copper foil is available with several color backings. The backing is on the adhesive side of the foil so that when the foil is wrapped around a piece of transparent glass the color backing is visible if you look "inside" the foiled area through the glass. This sounds like a small detail, but if you patina your solder lines, a different color foil backing would be very obvious if you used cathedral or clear glass. If you plan on using copper patina the copper foil with no color backing will match, if you plan on leaving the solder in its natural silver color the silver foil will match, or black backed foil for black patina. By using matched foil and solder finish you eliminate having a black solder line with a "halo" of copper showing through the glass.

I'm having difficulty getting a nice finish on my copper foil project. What is going wrong?
Finishing your project is an important process. If you're not getting the finish you want, the problem could happen at any point in the process. Make sure you're following the following steps, and you're sure to finish your next project perfectly!

After soldering it is VERY important to neutralize and remove all flux residue from your soldering. CJ's Flux Removeris designed specifically to do this. Apply some CJ's, and using a soft to medium bristle brush or a clean soft rag scrub the project thoroughly. Flush with lots of clean water to rinse away any residue.

If you want to apply a patina, do it now using a clean soft cloth or brush. It is important that you do not track other chemicals into your patina because this can prevent it from working properly (note: patina will not work on lead free solders). Apply evenly to the project and when you reach your desired color, rinse with lots of water. Do NOT let the patina stand on the project for more than a few minutes, the extended application time will not darken or intensify the color, but it could damage the glass.

Next you will want to apply a finish coat to seal and protect the metal. Stained Glass Finishing Compound by Clarity works well. It is a liquid wax that is easy to apply evenly and buffs up to a beautiful shiny finish. Again, use a clean soft cloth for this step.

Some additional factors to consider if you are already doing all these things are:

  • Any oil or wax on the solder will prevent a patina from coloring the surface evenly. If your finish is blotchy try using a cotton ball with a little rubbing alcohol to clean the areas that didn't "take" and re-apply the patina.
  • Sometimes chemicals or minerals in your water supply can prevent patina from taking well or make a project appear dull in finish. If this is the case try using a gallon jug of distilled water from the grocery store for your final rinse.
  • If the project is developing white and crusty areas several days after finishing, try using some baking soda and water to eliminate any mild acid that may be left behind from your flux or patina. Rinse and reapply finishing compound.

I noticed that foil comes in different thicknesses (.001", .00125", .0015"). Which size is best to minimize foil splitting on inside curves?
Thickness really doesn't matter when it comes to foiling inside curves. You can use any of the thicknesses. The trick is to not pull the foil as taut. Immediately after foiling the inside curve, crimp down the sides gently and ease the foil around the curve. Then continue foiling the rest of the glass and burnish it gently.

Patinated Or Plated?
I have seen stained glass items where the solder seams seem almost to be of chrome. It is bright shiny silver. How do I do that????

It sounds as though the solder seams may be chrome-plated. Plating is a process where a glass pieces is dipped into a vat which contains a chemical solution with metal particles in it. An electrically charged source is attached to a soldered portion of the finished glass piece which draws the metal particles in the chemical solution onto the solder seams. To protect the metallic coating, a clear lacquer is applied which also gives is a bright and shiny finish. If this is the look you desire to have on your glass pieces, I would strongly recommend having a professional do this for you. Look in your phone book under Electroplating or Plating to find a local source.

Using Patinas Successfully
I have occasionally seen stained glass work finished with a metallic patina, either copper or gold-like. I have never had success with such patinas; they never hold their original luster for very long. Is there a technique or specific product I need to use? Thanks.

Best results are achieved by first cleaning the solder seams thoroughly. I recommend first washing your piece with CJs Flux and Patina Remover and warm water. Dry it off, and apply a patina. It's a good idea to wear rubber gloves when completing the patination process. Apply the patina to the solder seams using a cotton ball, Q-tip, or gauze. Let it dry for a few minutes, rinse the entire piece with warm water, then pat dry. Examine the solder seams. Does the finish look satisfactory? If not, add a pinch of salt to the patina solution and reapply it to the seams. After this process is completed, polish it with finishing compound (carnuba wax) to both polish and protect the glass and solder seams. Finishing compound leaves a protect film which will help slow down the oxidation process, but won't stop it completely. Oxidation occurs as air particles react with metal surfaces. Gradually over time all metals turn black and have a dull matte finish. It's a natural process. The only way to prevent this is to polish your pieces regularly.


Friday, August 24, 2018
91 Posts

@Willowpond Double-sided silver copper foil is typically only used in applications in which you don't wish to solder the entire length of the foil. This isn't frequently done as most of the strength of the foil comes from the solder bead which builds up and essentially forms a channel similar to came. Most frequently, if you see it used in this manner it is applied in projects that are plated (meaning multiple layers are stacked together to build depth). The portions that need to be flat to allow layers to stack nicely may be left un-soldered, while all exposed surfaces are tinned or soldered.


Thursday, August 16, 2018
1 Post

When do you use silvered topped silver backed foil? I understand the silver back is for clear it transparent glass. Also, if you don t want to bulk up the edge with lead, is it ok to leave it the way it is? No one addresses this foIl. It was given to me a few years ago and I haven t used it before.


Monday, March 12, 2018
91 Posts

@ Copper foil is available in silver backed and black backed varieties for just this purpose. When creating glass art with translucent or transparent glass, it is ideal to select copper foil with the color backing that you intend to finish your solder lines so that the inside of the foil isn't a contrasting color. For projects you intend to leave with a silver solder line select silver backed foil. If you wish to use black patina, black backed foil will match, and regular copper foil is ideal for art with copper patina. If you're looking for a single foil to use for all the finish options, black backed is nice because it is the least eye-catching and can be paired with any finish reasonably well. When creating with opaque glass the color backing won't be visible, so any foil of the desired width will work well.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016
1 Post

How can I keep the the colour of the lead came after I have cleaned it with steel wool? It comes up beautifully shiny but quickly dulls again and I don't much like the black finish/


Sunday, November 30, 2014
1 Post

Use COPPER PATINA on your ZINC to make it the Ultimate Black. Sounds weird, I know but it works beautifully!


Tuesday, May 20, 2014
2 Posts

Hi, I order soldering iron -studio 100w iron from delphi. It has power specification -125volt 10amp. I stay in kuala lumpur. I am not able to use here .I got USA to Malasyia plug. Please guid me to use this soildering iron. Thanks

Jennifer Bonesteel

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Delphi Expert
188 Posts
Top Contributor Gallery Artist

@TripleR you will need to use a bronze wool or a metal brush to rough up the solder and remove patina and oxidation. You will also want to wipe it down with alcohol or wash it well to get the solder to adhere. If it's an extremely old panel you may wish to consult with a glass restoration specialist for tips and information.


Saturday, April 19, 2014
3 Posts

I noticed (new) solder will not adhere to the patina on (old) solder....trying to move O rings to a new position so the panel hangs better. Do I need to sand the patina off?

Jennifer Bonesteel

Thursday, January 16, 2014
Delphi Expert
188 Posts
Top Contributor Gallery Artist

@akterry123 I recommend cutting your glass to fit your pattern to make sure your pieces all fit. Then foil and lay out your pieces on your pattern. Tack solder (add a spot of solder to critical seams) to hold everything together. Then you can begin the process of soldering your seams without your pieces moving around.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014
1 Post

I am very new. Should I foil and spot weld as I go. If so what is the prep when I actually begin soldering. thanks at