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Electroplating Stained Glass


I am a stained glass craftsperson and a 3 dimensional project like a stand up golfer or a sleigh looks great when electroplated either in silver or copper. Most companies charge a large fee and require many pieces to be done for one order. The solder used for stained glass is 60/40 and the 'camé' used around the edges is lead. Does anyone know of a way to do this at my shop that would be safe but effective. Has anyone tried kits?. Any responses would be appreciated.

Tanya T [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- London, Ontario, Canada

If the camé is lead, Tanya, it cannot be effectively plated without hydrofluoric acid (or a variant of same like fluoboric acid) because other acids won't activate it for a proper plating bond. This is exceptionally dangerous stuff to work with, and will ruin glass, but as a glass artist you may already know that and be trained in it.

The second issue is wastewater permitting and disposal. Here is the USA it is illegal to offer plating services, or to sell goods that you plate yourself, without a host of permits (although, in truth, the regulators certainly seem to ignore the smallest operations like jewelers and artists).

For technical information about plating stained glass, please see letters 545 and 46134. Patience with the search engine will reveal additional threads on the topic.

Good luck.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


There are a few things/ideas that I have played around with in the past..

A/ there are silver dust/epoxy mixes used in conductive PCB repair paint for smaller items this can give you a conductive base coat to then build up by subsequent plating.

B/ When playing around with a plasma cutter, if you can get access to one, I found that by holding copper sheet up in front of the object to be dusted then it would fuse conductive copper dust onto the surface of the glass.

C/ I have heard that palladium is used to do the through-hole-plating on circuit boards giving a conductive 'key' to where the drill has been. It may be possible to get you local PCB maker to dip an object for you.

D/ Gold leafing

E/ Graphite dusting?

Chris Blythe
- Plymouth, UK

August 20, 2008

They are very inexpensive plug and plate systems. I have ordered one to plate copper, don't know how well it works. The plating system I bought was $33 and a manual/catalog was $22. There are a lot of products and methods for plating so a phone call would be best or possibly just ordering a manual. Since the investment is low it may be best to just order one of the plug and plate kits to see how it does.

James Morgan
- Roanoke, Virginia USA

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