Lead Came TechniqueBy Mark Chervenka
Lead Came Technique
The use of came, a lead strip with a groove or channel to hold the glass, is the oldest method of making leaded glass (Fig. 1). It was developed hundreds of years ago and is the basic technique used in the leaded windows of Medieval cathedrals.
In this technique, pieces of glass are loosely surrounded with lead came with the glass fitting in the came's channel (Fig. 2). Solder is applied only where the came intersects another came (Fig. 3) This is sufficient for lamp shades and most interior leaded work. If the work is to be exposed to the weather, though, grouting is forced between the glass and the edges of the channel.
Lead came in vintage windows is generally about three-sixteenths to one-quarter inch wide. Due to the size of windows, especially large church windows, the wide came does not have a negative effect on the overall appearance. The large lead came, though, can look out of place in smaller works of leaded glass such as lamp shades. Glass fitted into wide lead cames also has difficulty forming smooth curves. Lead came is also not suited for use with small pieces of glass because the relatively deep channels cover a considerable area of glass.
Most lamp shades constructed with lead came in the market today are modern products. The fine collectible antique leaded lamp shades are virtually always constructed with the copper foil technique.