Striking and vibrant to the eye, stained glass pieces can be used as interior and exterior panels, lamps, skylights and other smaller items such as tea light holders, mirrors or hanging window decorations.
Stained glass is available in the most wonderful diversity of colours and textures, and is often something to behold in its own right, even before being turned into a piece of art!
Throughout its thousand-year history, the term ‘stained glass’ has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant buildings. Although traditionally made in flat panels and used as windows, the creations of modern stained glass artists also include three-dimensional structures and sculpture. The modern term has been extended to include work made from lead came and copper foil glasswork, exemplified in the famous lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany.
Stained glass has been coloured by adding metallic salts during its manufacture. Glass can be divided into two main categories:
- Antique glass – a centuries-old technique. The glass is blown by mouth as opposed to being machine-made. Each sheet of glass is unique, having its own particular qualities, irregularities and range of colours.
- Rolled or cathedral glass – made by machine rather than by hand. There are many types of machine-made glass produced by different companies, each with differing cutting properties and characteristics. Some examples include Opalescent, Streaky, Water, Semi-Antique and Iridized glass.
The coloured glass is crafted into stained glass windows through a process of arranging small pieces of glass to form patterns or pictures, held together (traditionally) by strips of lead and supported by a rigid frame. Painted details and yellow stain can also be used to enhance the design. The term ‘stained glass’ is also applied to windows in which the colours have been painted onto the glass and then fused to the glass in a kiln.