Cut out the rubbing of the broken glass section and trace it onto the new glass with permanent marker. Cut out the glass and grind to fit the area. Although an electronic glass grinder makes quick work of this step, a metal file also does the job. If the piece that needs to be replaced is small, it is easier to cut it slightly larger than the area and grind more. Check to make sure it fits before foiling.
Select replacement glass. Look at the overall composition of the lamp, not just the color of the damaged piece. Often, glass is placed so that its “grain” follows a certain pattern. If you do not know the original source of the glass, take a piece of glass (or the entire lamp) to a stained glass showroom. Knowledgeable sales people will be able to help you find the best match. If shopping in person is not an option, there are online sources available to help with your selection.
Pay attention to the price. A real Tiffany lamp is considered to be an antique and will be priced much higher than a reproduction. Even at an auction, a Tiffany lamp will sell for several hundred thousand dollars, and according to The Antiques Almanac, some have even reached more than $2.8 million depending on the size and the design on the shade. Reproductions are typically priced from $500 to $5,000. Tiffany “style” lamps will be much cheaper, usually around $100 to $300.
Flux the foil on the new piece of glass as well as the foil on the pieces of glass surrounding the missing piece. Tin the new piece of glass by soldering a thin coat of solder over the foil. Reapply flux to the solder on the new piece and place it into the new spot. Use electrical tape on the inside of the lamp to hold the glass in place.
Tiffany glass refers to many types of glass developed by Louis Comfort Tiffany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Tiffany copper foil stained glass lamp shades range in style from simple geometric designs to complex floral designs with thousands of small pieces. When working with lamps, Tiffany glass is often used to describe opalescent glass, not the actual creator of the lamp itself. Opalescent glass, which is usually a swirl of multiple colors, is attractive because it tends to reflect more light than it transmits. Sometimes the Tiffany glass shade can get damaged. With the right tools and some patience, a novice can repair a Tiffany glass lamp shade.
Tack solder the glass into place by soldering small amounts of solder at several spots where the new piece touches the surrounding pieces. Using your soldering iron, melt and apply solder to the front seams of the entire piece of new glass and the surrounding pieces. Once the front is complete, remove the electrical tape and flux and solder the inside.
Study the base of the lamp. Authentic Tiffany lamps are also marked on the base with the same signature mentioned above. In addition, the bases are made out of copper or bronze and are quite heavy. Later reproductions are commonly made out of resin and may feel very lightweight.
References TiffanyLampsGalore.com: Is This an Original Tiffany Lamp? Louis Tiffany Company Biography
Examine the bronze base of the lamp for a stamp that reads, “Tiffany,” along with a unique model number. Search for the stamp on the bottom or sides of the lamp base or look inside the lamp shade.
Identify lamps in Tiffany’s Favrile group by finding the metal tag on the inside of the shade. Look on the rim and in the metal work that holds the glass. Look for the initials L.C.T or the word “Favrile,” “Tiffany Studies N.Y.” or “Louis C. Tiffany Favrile.”
The dragonfly pattern was a favorite of Tiffany’s (Image: dragonfly decoration on a lamp image by Fadeeva from Fotolia.com)
Take a cardboard box larger than the lamp shade and fill the box with crumpled newspaper. Rest the shade in this box, using the newspaper to prop the lamp so that the surface of the lamp where the soldering is needed is parallel with your work surface.
Study the design. Tiffany lamps are produced with a variety of detail-heavy designs Common original designs include roses, begonias, dragonflies, peacocks and other flora and fauna. Tiffany glass produced later in the Art Nouveau period may also exhibit what is known as a “mission design” with vibrant color pieces arranged in a southwestern design.
Remove the stained glass lamp shade from the lamp base and place it on a flat surface.
Look for an original paper label that reads “Tiffany and Company.” Use caution when examining the label as original labels will be very delicate. Find the paper labels on the bottom of the lamp base.
Stained glass lamps, original Tiffany pieces or contemporary copies, are eye-catching dust collectors that have to be carefully cleaned.
References “Collector’s Weekly”; Interview With Tiffany Lamp Appraiser; Maribeth Keane, et al.; May 2010 “The Antiques Almanac”; Tiffany Lamps Fetch Astronomical Prices; Bob Brooke
Use a glass cutter to score a cross-hatch pattern on the remaining damaged glass if it is still in the seam. Use pliers to break and remove shards. When doing this, pull out and away from the lamp so as not to place additional strain on the surrounding pieces of glass.
Tiffany lamps display Victorian motifs like elaborate floral designs and dragonflies. (Image: Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)
Learn how to correctly identify a stained glass lamp before purchasing one. (Image: Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)
Examine the solder between glass pieces. Real Tiffany lamps are made using copper solder, and reproductions typically use brass or other inferior metals in their solder. Aged copper will look dark greenish-black, while bronze and other metals will typically just appear black. In addition, pay attention to the workmanship of the solder. Tiffany lamps are constructed with strict attention to detail and do not typically show soldering errors or poor workmanship.
Replacement glass Paper Pencil Safety glasses Glass cutter Needlenose pliers Cardboard box Old newspaper Flux Solder Soldering iron Permanent marker Glass grinder or metal file Copper foil (for copper foil repairs) Electrical tape Dish soap Glass wax
Tiffany lamps are treasured collectibles because of their beauty, historical significance and potential worth. Since Louis Comfort Tiffany began producing his signature, stained glass lamps in 1885, many have tried to copy his masterful works. In an effort to ease authentication, Tiffany used four special marking techniques to make identifying his works easier. However, not all originals bear Tiffany markings and later reproductions added forged marks to their products. Learning how to find Tiffany markings will be useful for making an initial assessment; however, an official appraisal is recommended for these art pieces.
Stained glass lamps are frequently used in decor and provide the beauty of artwork with the functionality of a lamp. In the early 20th century, the Tiffany Company introduced a line of stained glass lamps that would later become iconic; several companies quickly reproduced these stained glass lamps. Although a manufacturer may claim it is selling a “Tiffany” lamp, it is often a lamp done in the Tiffany style and not an actual product. There are a few ways to determine whether a Tiffany stained glass lamp is authentic.
Once the soldering is complete, use dish soap or a soap specifically for removing flux to clean the shade. If a patina was used on the rest of the stained glass shade, use the same kind on the new section so that it will match. Follow up with an application of glass wax to the entire piece.
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References National Park Service: The Preservation and Repair of Historic Stained and Leaded Glass Julie L. Sloan: Owner’s Manual of Stained Glass Conservation
Look for the signature on the base of the lamp shade. While not all authentic Tiffany lamps are stamped, the majority will have a small mark on the bottom of the shade that says either “Tiffany Studios” or “Tiffany and Co.” If you do not see a mark, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the lamp is not authentic, but the chances of it being a reproduction are higher.
You May Also Like How to Find Markings on a Tiffany Lamp How to Repair Tiffany Glass Lamp Shades What Kind of Paint for a Glass Lamp Base?
Brush liquid or paste flux on the solder bead surrounding the broken glass. Heat the solder with your soldering iron. At the same time, use the tip of the iron to remove excess solder from the seams on both sides of the broken pane. Be careful to leave the foil on the surrounding pieces of glass intact. At the same time, use needlenose pliers to pull away damaged foil.
Use copper foil to wrap the edges of the new piece of glass. The copper foil will take up some of the space between the glass pieces.
Make a rubbing of the soldered seams surrounding the broken glass with paper and pencil. Put on your safety glasses when you begin to work with the glass.