October 31, 2007

Step-by-step: working with lead

What holds all the glass pieces together in a stained glass window is extruded lead came, which is available in various sizes. Lead is a very soft metal, and to strengthen it, each came is placed in a lead vice like this, and then slightly stretched to harden it. This process is called "tempering" in the metal trades.

Here the artist pulls back on the lead, while bracing himself with the back foot in case the lead came disengages from the vice. More than a few apprentices have take a spill during this part of the glass project. It might be considered the second greatest occupational hazard of the industry, the first being bleeding fingers.

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