Dog and Bird in stained glass along with three bottles of Novacan patina.

Finishing stained glass with patina

Table of Contents

Patina stained glass

Coating solder seams with a coloring solution is an important skill for finishing glass art. Staining the solder lines creates visual depth or an aged, antique look.

Properly applied patina chemicals cause a color change to the solders surface that gives beautiful results. Copper, black and antique colors are common, with each creating distinct visual effects.

Using patina stain successfully requires a thorough cleaning of the solder surfaces, brushing on thin, even layers of the solution, and allowing proper drying time between coats. For best results, choose quality chemicals made specifically for stained glass.

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 Step-by-step guide on how to use patina on your project.

Follow these step-by-step instructions.

Clean and prepare

  • Wash with dish soap and water, then use distilled or filtered water for the final rinse to avoid minerals.
  • Or, spray on and wipe off Kwik Clean flux remover with no final rinse.
  • Wear gloves to prevent the oils from your hands contacting solder
  • Clean solder lines with 0000 steel wool to remove oxidation and leave a shiny silver finish. Vacuum up the steel wool shards completely after use.
  • Wipe solder with isopropyl alcohol to eliminate oils, dust, and residues
  • Ensure your piece is completely dry before application

Preparation steps like thorough cleaning, removing oxidation, and ensuring a dry surface optimize results. Test different preparation techniques to find what works best for your projects.

Prepare your work area

To prevent contamination of your normal work surface, find a large tray, a big square of glass or a section of plywood to work on when using these caustic solutions. Lay down a protective sheet or some newspaper to catch any drips or spills. Patina can be messy. You may also want to wear protective gloves to avoid any skin irritation.

Dress up for safety

Safety first! The front of the bottle says:” POISON  CAUSES SEVERE BURNS  VAPOR HARMFUL”. This is definitely a time to suit up for your own protection. You should put on a smock or old work shirt, plastic gloves, wear a mask, and use eye protection.

Assemble your tools

Lay out your chosen applicator. Use a toothbrush, small paint brush, tiny piece of cloth or even a Q-tip. Next, shake the bottle well to mix the contents. Use a small disposable dish to pour a tiny bit into, or use the cap from the bottle.  Only pour a small amount out to start because whatever is left has to be discarded (to prevent contaminating the bottle).

Apply the solution

Carefully coat the soldered areas of your glass art. Try to keep the chemical off the glass surface. Keep in mind that it can stain very light colored and clear glasses.

If you need to, wipe any excess off the glass. Test results using a small test assembly before jumping into a major project.

Apply an even coat of the patina over the solder lines. Make sure to cover all the solder joints thoroughly. Use only minimal pressure to avoid disturbing any delicate glass pieces.

HOW TO - Applying Copper Patina - Beginner Stained Glass Tutorial

Allow the treated art piece to sit for a few minutes, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This will give it time to react and create the desired color and effect. While the treatment is curing, you can clean your applicator brush or set up for the next step. Let the area dry, then wash according to manufacturers instructions.


Once the chemical has dried and cured, wash the piece with room temperature soapy water and let dry. This step will reveal the beautiful contrast between the treated solder and the glass. Once dry, you can lightly wipe on Mothers car wax or a specialty stained glass product like Clarity Finishing Compound to give it some shine. Polish only lightly as the color can be removed from over polishing.

Tips and tricks for achieving a smooth and even finish.

Ensure that the solder seams and/or lead came surfaces to be coated are clean and free from any dust or debris. Wet the surface first before applying patina. Use a designated patina brush and scrub it on evenly.

Work in small sections, wetting and applying the patina in a smooth and controlled manner. This will allow for better control and minimize the risk of any drips or runs.

Coat the solder lines with in multiple thin layers rather than one thick coat. This will help to build up the color gradually and achieve a more uniform finish.


Planning a new project? Have a look at this post all about using pattern books for design ideas

Pattern books inspire stained glass design


Common Mistakes to Avoid

One common mistake when using patina is applying too much too quickly. It can be tempting to brush on a thick layer in an attempt to achieve a deep, rich color. However, this can lead to a blotchy and uneven appearance. Instead, brush or wipe on the solution in thin, even layers.

Each layer should be allowed to dry completely before applying the next, ensuring that the previous layer is fully absorbed. After application, wait the recommended interval before rinsing.

While some may be tempted to try DIY solder stain recipes, specialized chemical finish solutions provide superior results and safety compared to homemade options.

One brand with a loyal following is Novacan. Check pricing on a combo pack of two, one each of copper and black on Amazon.

Another mistake to avoid is not properly cleaning the solder lines before coating them. Dust, oils, and fingerprints can prevent the coloring treatment from adhering to the surface of the glass, resulting in a patchy and incomplete finish.

Be sure to dry the glass completely before proceeding with the patina application. Note that taking the time to properly clean the solder lines plays a major role in getting a satisfying result.

Finishing Stained Glass with Patina – FAQ

1. What is patina and how does it affect stained glass?

It is a chemical solution coating for the soldered seams of stained glass to change its color, enhancing the artwork’s overall appearance. It can give the solder lines a black, copper, or other tinted finish, complementing the glass colors and adding depth to the design.

2. Can any type of glass be stained with patina?

Most stained glass can be finished this way, regardless of color or texture. However, it is important to note that certain types of glass may react differently, so it is recommended to test it on a small, inconspicuous area before using it on the entire piece.

3. How is patina applied to soldered seams?

The stain solution is applied to soldered seams by first cleaning the stained glass piece, then using a brush or cloth to evenly spread the patina solution over the solder lines. After a few moments, the excess is wiped off, and allowed to dry.

Stained Glass Tutorial: How to Apply Black Patina to Solder

4. Do I need to clean my stained glass piece before applying patina?

Yes, it’s essential to clean your stained glass piece before it gets added. This ensures the removal of oils and residues, allowing for better adhesion and an even finish.

5. What are the best techniques for applying patina?

The best technique for applying stain to soldered glass is to use a small brush or applicator and carefully coat the solder lines or lead came. Avoid applying too much at once as it may lead to excess dripping or uneven distribution. It’s recommended to add a thin, even coat and add more if needed.

6. How long does it take for the patina to dry?

It typically takes between 10 to 30 minutes to dry on soldered seams, but it’s recommended to wait at least 24 hours before handling or framing the stained glass piece to ensure complete drying.

7. What should I do if my patina isn’t adhering properly?

If the stain won’t adhere to the solder, ensure the art work is thoroughly cleaned to remove oils and residues, then reapply. Using a fresh bottle might also help, as old or contaminated solutions can be less effective.

8. How do I choose the right patina for my stained glass piece?

Choose the right finish for your stained glass piece based on the desired color for the solder seams (e.g., black, copper) and the colors of the glass used in your design, ensuring they complement each other for the best visual effect.

9. Is it necessary to seal or finish a piece after applying patina?

It is advisable to apply a finishing compound or wax to protect the treated solder seam, enhance its shine, and prevent oxidation or tarnish.

10. What’s the difference between copper and black patina?

Copper solution gives solder seams a copper-colored finish, while black turns them dark black or gray, each offering a different aesthetic to complement the stained glass design.

11. Can I change the patina color after application?

While you can’t directly change the color, you can clean it off with a suitable cleaner and then reapply a different shade to achieve the desired color on the solder seams.

12. How long should I wait after soldering to apply patina?

After soldering, it’s advisable to wait until the solder has cooled completely, typically a few minutes, and then clean the piece before applying for optimal adhesion and finish.

13. Can I use patina on both lead and copper foil techniques?

Yes, it can be used on both lead and copper foil techniques in stained glass to alter the color of the soldered seams and enhance the overall appearance of the artwork.

14. How do I achieve a uniform patina finish?

Applying patina is one of my favorite #stainedglass processes!

To achieve a uniform finish, ensure your stained glass piece is thoroughly cleaned, and apply the stain steadily using a brush or cloth. Wipe away excess solution and allow the treated surfaces to dry evenly.

15. Can I mix different patinas to achieve unique finishes?

Mixing different colors can produce unique finishes, but it’s essential to test a small area first to ensure compatibility and the desired result before applying to the entire stained glass piece.

Another reference article I found that discusses finishing stained glass is a post on – find it here.

16. How do environmental factors, like humidity, affect the patina process?

Environmental factors like high humidity can slow the drying time and potentially affect adhesion, while too dry conditions might cause it to dry too rapidly. Either can lead to uneven finishes on the treated surfaces.

17. How do I store unused patina?

Store unused solution in its original container, tightly sealed, in a cool and dark place, away from children and pets, to maintain its effectiveness and longevity.

18. Can old patina be refreshed or rejuvenated?

Yes, it can be cleaned and reapplied with a fresh layer to refresh its appearance. But if old solution in the bottle has deteriorated, it cannot be rejuvenated and should be replaced.

19. How do I remove the patina if I’ve made an error or want to change it?

To remove it, clean the area with a suitable cleaner or a mixture of baking soda and water, scrubbing gently, and then rinse thoroughly before reapplying or otherwise correcting the error.

20. Can patina be harmful or toxic?

Yes, some contain chemicals that can be harmful or toxic, so it’s essential to handle with care. Use only in well-ventilated areas, and keep away from children and pets. Always read the label and follow safety precautions.

Novacan material safety data sheets (MSDS) for their patina products are found here (link)

21. What precautions should I take when working with patina?

Use in a well-ventilated area, wear a protective mask, gloves and eyewear, and avoid skin contact or inhalation. Always keep these products out of reach of children and pets.

22. What does patina do to solder?

Patina is a chemical solution that reacts with the metal in solder to produce a darkened, aged effect. When applied to solder lines, patina enhances the stained glass artwork by creating visual contrast that makes the intricate details stand out beautifully.

23. Why wet the surface before applying patina?

Wetting first allows for better absorption, even application, thorough scrubbing, and full chemical reaction for the patina across the entire surface. This achieves complete, uniform coverage and an evenly patinated finished piece.


Note: Dive deeper into the world of stained glass by exploring more on my blog,



With the right tools and techniques, patina can enhance any stained glass piece. But mistakes happen, especially for beginners. Arm yourself with knowledge, have patience, and embrace the patina process. In time, you’ll master this staple stained glass finishing skill.