Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Simple Tips For Using Copper Wire In Suncatcher Construction

Using copper wire in suncatcher construction is something you can easily take advantage of when constructing suncatchers.

Copper wire is used in various gauges throughout the united states and world wide in hundreds of thousands of applications.    

In addition to being readily available, it isn't overly pricey considering the increased rise in copper prices.

When using copper wire in suncatcher construction you need to first tin the wire.

Although you can purchase pre-tinned copper wire in various gauges from any art glass house, you can do it yourself and save yourself some money, especially if you know an electrician who can give you some scrap wire.

Strip off the insulation with a pocket knife and pull the wire through a piece of folded sandpaper to brighten it up and remove any residual coating.

Then simply apply a good coat of flux to the bright wireand tin it like you would with foil.

Copper wire comes in various diameters and is measured by guage. (see below)

The higher the gauge number of the wire, the thinner the wire.

A common 16 gauge copper wire is used in many household applications such as for outdoor extension cords, etc. and is heavier than a higher numbered 20 gauge wire.

A 16 gauge or heavier wire is frequently used in stained glass suncatcher construction for insect antennae, legs, flower stems, bird beaks, etc. 

It is used in box constructions for hinges or in corners to add durability to the finished project.

Lighter gauge wire is often used for augmenting the patterns on stained glass projects in order to provide a more realistic looking finished product.

These applications include fish scales, bird feathers, flower petal veins, etc. 

Wrap a piece of tinned copper wire around a pencil or dowel to make hanger rings for your finished suncatcher projects.

You can also use "tigertail" to hand your suncatchers.

Tigertail is made up of multistrands of very fine wire twisted together to form a thin diameter cable. The multi-strand "cable" is then usually coated with plastic or nylon to create a tough and resilient small diameter wire that is used in jewelry making, "beading" or to hang suncatchers.

You can strip off the coating from tigertail or any multistranded copper wire, tin it and use it as an overlay for your project.  You can make some neat plant leaves, bird feathers, fish scale patterns, etc.from it and once tinned tack it to the seams in your suncatcher for "effect".

Although it is generally used in jewelery making, it has been found to be a very strong and quite invisible wire for hanging stained glass suncatchers.

Another obvious reason for using copper wire in suncatcher construction is to strengthen larger projects and to add rigidity.

Single strand copper wire in itself does not add much to the strength of a suncatcher or panel however, copper braid or stranded wire can be integrated into the joints of foiled work to substantially strengthen a project.

When tinned, the braid picks up more solder and becomes extremely stiff.   When impregnated with the solder, the tinned braid becomes much stronger than the solder itself or a tinned single strand of copper wire of the same diameter.

The purpose of reinforcement is to prevent sagging or bowing in the middle of a panel or large stained glass suncatcher, so make sure you extend the tinned braid to the frame on each side of your project.

I'm sure you can find many other ways of using copper wire in stained glass construction, just use your imagination.

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