The Enchanting History of Original Stained Glass
The origins of stained glass date back to ancient times, with evidence of glass coloring techniques found in Egyptian and Roman civilizations. However, it was during the Gothic period (12th-16th centuries) that stained glass art truly flourished, adorning the windows of majestic cathedrals and churches throughout Europe. These remarkable works of art were not only visually stunning but also served a functional purpose, as they helped to illustrate religious narratives and teachings to the largely illiterate population.
As the centuries progressed, the popularity of stained glass waned during the Renaissance and Baroque eras, only to experience a resurgence during the 19th century with the Gothic Revival and the Arts and Crafts movements. Today, original stained glass remains a cherished art form, admired for its timeless beauty and intricate craftsmanship.
The Art and Craft of Original Stained Glass
- Designing : The artist begins by sketching a full-scale design on paper, known as a “cartoon,” which serves as a blueprint for the stained-glass window.
- Selecting Glass : The craftsman selects colored glass sheets based on the design, often hand-blown or machine-rolled, each with its unique texture and hue.
- Cutting and Shaping : Using a glass cutter, the artisan carefully cuts the individual glass pieces to match the design, and then grinds the edges to achieve a precise fit.
- Painting and Firing : Intricate details and shading are added to the glass pieces using vitreous paint, which is then fired in a kiln to permanently fuse the paint onto the glass surface.
- Assembly : The glass pieces are assembled using lead cames, H-shaped strips of lead that hold the glass in place, creating the iconic leaded glass appearance. The joints are soldered together for stability.
- Waterproofing and Installation : The finished stained glass panel is waterproofed using putty, and then installed within a window or lightbox to showcase its full splendor.