All About the Art of Stained Glass Windows

All About the Art of Stained Glass Windows

All About the Art of Stained Glass Windows

Stained glass is used to make buildings more beautiful and to honor people and events. It has been used for centuries in the windows of religious buildings like churches and mosques. More recently, stained glass has been used to create beautiful sculptures and other works of art. Stained glass windows allow some light to enter a building, but they're meant to be decorative more than functional: They don't let in nearly as much light as a normal glass window would, and you can't see through them clearly.

When you think of stained glass, you very likely also think of lead light and foil glasswork art, though you probably don't realize it: In most people's minds, these are all grouped together as one category. Lead light windows lack the complex designs and wide variety of colors of stained glass windows and were used historically more for storefronts and houses. Foil glasswork art, also known as came glasswork, is used to create items like lampshades and hanging or tabletop ornaments. In order to create these pieces of art, the artist must not only be able to imagine the work in their head but should also understand the science and engineering behind it well enough to make sure the pieces will all fit together well and last a long time.

Stained glass has been around since ancient times, with the earliest known example having been created in 675 C.E. Small decorations made of colored glass were popular in both the Roman and ancient Egyptian societies. Stained glass gained popularity in the Middle Ages, with many churches beginning to use it to create pictures in their windows. After some time of lessening popularity, stained glass once again became favored in the early 19th century, as the gothic style became the preferred style in churches and cathedrals.

Artists use a wide variety of techniques to color the glass to create these pieces of art, and throughout time, different ways have been popular. Stained glass can be made by adding metal salts to pieces of clear, melted glass. It can also be created by painting glass with a special glaze or using silver stains. These methods last for a very long time, but painting glass with regular paint does not; this explains why very few remaining pieces of stained glass remain from the Middle Ages. After creating the colored glass, a stained glass artist then puts small pieces of the glass together between pieces of metal to form beautiful pictures and patterns. The metal strips used have traditionally been made of lead, but other types of metal are also common in more modern stained glass artwork.

Stained glass is often created for a building with a particular theme in mind. Many churches have stained glass windows that show the life of Jesus or other biblical scenes. Panels are sometimes placed in order to portray the events in a story. In academic buildings, stained glass is often created with patterns that include symbols of education or of historical importance. For instance, a work of stained glass art may contain medical symbols if it's to be placed at a medical school or symbols of academia or academic subjects if it will be displayed at a university. When a stained glass artist is hired, they typically get specific instructions from their client so that they can convey exactly the meaning and mood that's desired. Sometimes, they'll create miniature models that can be approved before the project is created in full.


Creating Stained Glass Windows

Famous Pieces

Famous Artists

Fun for Kids






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