Lead Came TechniqueBy

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.

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Fig. 1 Lead came is a strip of lead with grooves on one or both sides.

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Fig. 2 The pieces of glass fit into the grooves of the came.

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Fig. 3 After all the glass is arranged, the cames are soldered at all the came-to-came joints.

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Fig. 4 Typical vintage leaded glass window assembled with lead came. Average width of lead came is about three-sixteenths of an inch to one-quarter inch although came can be much larger.