- what is the traditional method of fabrication for this type of design
- does this piece have a frame from which it will be hung
- is there a weight limitation
- does this piece contain a large number of little pieces
Of course we must add that there is really no right or wrong method when creating stained glass art! Also there are many artists that do not know how to work in both mediums.
The design aspect
Look at the style of the piece and decide what you typically see used in its fabrication. You will notice that beveled clusters and other beveled glass windows are usually leaded. Victorian, prairie style and other geometric designs also look good leaded. Landscapes and detailed scenes look nice foiled.
Suncatcher, or framed piece?
A suncatcher will last longer made with foil as opposed to lead came. Unfortunately lead came will stretch and ruin a suncatcher. If the suncatcher doesn't have a strong frame and will be hung from the lead came itself, the lead came will stretch and fall apart quickly. We prefer not to ever frame our pieces with lead came, instead we use zinc came for strength. Occasionally we frame a foiled suncatcher with lead came, but only if we do not intend to hang the piece directly from its lead came frame. Instead we solder the hanging hooks to an interior foiled soldered line instead.
Hanging a heavy lead came window can become problematic. It must be hung correctly from a window frame so as to handle the heavy load. A very heavy lead window placed in a door can also pose a problem later with the alignment of the door itself. In areas where weight can be an issue, we advise building a foiled window. Lead came lamps are heavy and the lead eventually stretches and ruins the lamp. Zinc came used in lamps works well but it's difficult to bend zinc so it works better for lamps with strait pieces of glass only. We prefer to build foiled lamps ie Tiffany lamps, which look more pleasing to the eye.
Amount of pieces in the window
Finally, while there are some very talented glass artists that can utilize lead came in windows that have many pieces, we suggest using foil for these projects. The thin foil lines used in a complicated piece seem to allow the actual image design to stand out as opposed to the heavier lead came (where the lead came might actually stand out more than the image itself). Also keep in mind that the more lead used in a window, meaning a window with a lot of pieces of glass, the heavier it will weigh when completed.