Chicago School of Glass Art

Chicago's Glass Art Studio

Shiny Solder Lines

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Now and then the question comes up “How do I get my solder lines to be as shiny as those you find on store bought sun catchers?”  Electroplate! That’s the answer, electroplate. The process used in electroplating is called electrodeposition.  An object that you want all shiny is placed in a liquid of metal ions the is electrically charged, the object is then given an opposing electric charge of the metal ion liquid.  With the electric charge the metal ions are attracted to the object thus coating the it with the metal. So, in the case of those store bought items they are plated and then  a clear shellac is placed over the metal making them look all shiny. It is an expensive process and in the stained glass industry is not common practice.

So, how do you address this if you want those shiny lines?  When you are done making your window make sure that you have cleaned your window well. We like to use Orvis soap, but there are many others you can use like Fels Naptha or other “pure” soaps, meaning ones that don’t have all that perfume stuff inside along with phosphates. Once the window is all clean and nice and dry you can put a glass polish or wax right over your window, buff it up and voila’ shiny solder lines. And its a lot cheaper!

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