22nd May 2024

Using Adhesive lead in Glass Painting. A Prairie style sun catcher.

Using Adhesive lead in Glass Painting.
Using Adhesive lead in Glass Painting.

This project is about using adhesive lead in glass painting. To make it more interesting we have based it around a prairie style, Frank Lloyd Wright inspired sun catcher.

There are two main things to remember when working with adhesive lead. Firstly you need to ensure it is well stuck down. This is especially true where one piece of lead crosses another and around areas you  intent to paint.

Secondly you want to end up with as few lose ends as possible. You won’t be able to get rid of them all but try and minimise the amount left.  Ends should, whenever possible, be tucked under other pieces of lead. his does turned the leading up into a type of game or puzzle. You need to spend a bit of time planning the order in which you are going to add the lead strips.


This actual project is actually quite simple, well once you have worked the leading out it is! The video takes you through it step by step although the painting is skipped over as it is mainly about the leading.

Using Adhesive lead in Glass Painting.


Equipment and Materials for the leading.

  • Adhesive lead, size and colour to suit. We used both 3mm, 4mm and 9mm lead in this project.
  • Something to smooth the lead down with. This can be the official “boning tool” or a piece of plastic cutlery etc.
  • Scissors.
  • Craft Knife.
  • Ruler
  • Blu tack.
  • The Design. (You can download a copy of our design  from our free designs/projects section).

Equipment and Materials for the painting.

  • Paint brush (we used solid ones).
  • Glass Paints to suit.
  • Cotton buds (to clear any drops of paint from the lead).
  • Piece of kitchen towel.

Prairie / Frank Lloyd Wright Light Catcher Design.
Prairie / Frank Lloyd Wright Light Catcher Design.


To start with you should work out your design, this can be done on a computer or manually.

Next place the design under the material you are going to work on (glass, perspex, film etc.) and fix down with the blu tack. If you are using a film don’t forget to take any protective cover of the side you are going to be working on.

Now ids the time to sit back and think about the order in which you are going to add the lead. If you do make a mistake then you should be able to lift the lead off again but you don’t want to be doing this too often.

Cut and place the lead ensuring each piece if pressed down firmly.

Once the leading is complete you can paint the piece. Do this a colour at a time. Have a cotton bud handy so you can catch any drops of paint which inadvertently end up on the lead.

After finishing the painting and leaving it to dry you can, if you wish, turn the piece over and do some or all of the leading again on that side. In our piece we just did the thick 9mm pieces but it you really want to go to town you can do it all.

Adhesive Lead Work.
Adhesive Lead Work.

Tips for using the lead.

You don’t have to lay a whole strip down at once. If it helps to leave one end “in the air” until you have put down another strip then that would be fine.

Sometimes you end up with “spare bits” you have cut off. Try and reuse these rather than throwing them away.

When doing a curve bend it round in small increments pressing it down firmly after each. Hold the last bit pressed down whist you bend the next bit.

Rather than cutting each bit and then laying it down you can, if you are careful, lay it down and then cutting it to size.


Personally I really enjoyed working with this adhesive lead, it made a nice change from the liquid outliner. You should choose a thickness of lead which suits the size of your work and the elements in it.

In retrospect I think it may have been better to choose a lead with a flat profile. The one i used had a slightly curved profile and I think that made it more difficult to get a clean “seal” especially where one bit of lead went over another.

There are certain times when using adhesive lead in glass painting doesn’t suit the design but the prairie/Frank Llyod Wright style is one where it works particularly well.

Well we hope you enjoy this technique / project. If you do something similar we would love to see a picture of it.

2 thoughts on “Using Adhesive lead in Glass Painting. A Prairie style sun catcher.

  1. Do you think the adhesive lead strips look more authentic than the stuff in the bottle? Which one resembles real stained glass projects more?

    1. Yes I think the lead strips are much closer to real stained glass. They can only really be used on larger pieces but I do use them for at least part of the work whenever I can.

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