Stained Glass

stained glass

Stained glass, in the arts, the colored glass used for making decorative windows and other objects through which light passes. Strictly speaking, all colored glass is “stained,” or colored by the addition of various metallic oxides while it is in a molten state; nevertheless, the term stained glass has come to refer primarily to the glass employed in making ornamental or pictorial windows. The singular color harmonies of the stained-glass window are due less to any special glass-coloring technique itself, however, than to the exploitation of certain properties of transmitted light and the light-adaptive behavior of human vision.

Of all the painter’s arts, stained glass is probably the most intractable. It is bound not only by the many light-modulating factors that affect its appearance but also by comparatively cumbersome, purely structural demands.

Why is it called stained glass?

The term stained glass derives from the silver stain that was often applied to the side of the window that would face the outside of the building. When the glass was fired, the silver stain turned a yellow color that could range from lemon to gold. Stained glass was usually used to make windows, so that the light would shine through the painting. It is a form of painting that began over 1,000 years ago and is still essentially made the same way today.

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How stained glass is made?

  1. Drawing

An artist would initially make a sketch of the overall composition of a window. Then full-sized drawings for the whole window or for different sections (panels) of the window were made.  Generally, the shapes of the individual glass pieces, the details to be painted, and the colors of the glass were indicated on the cartoon.

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  1. Cutting

Different colors of glass were chosen for separate parts of the design, and the outline of each piece was then painted on the surface with white lime wash. Pieces were cut into rough shapes using a dividing iron, the heated tip of which was applied to the surface of the glass, causing it to break. The pieces were further reduced to the desired size with a grozing iron—an iron bar with a slot at each end that was used to chip away at the edges of the glass until the exact shape was created.

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  1. Painting

After the glass pieces were cut and shaped, they were painted with a special pigment. Once painted, the separate pieces of glass were placed in a wood-fired oven called a kiln. The heat of the kiln causes the vitreous paint to fuse permanently to the surface of the glass.

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  1. Lead

Pieces of glass are held together with narrow strips of lead to form a panel. These strips are referred to as “lead came.” Lead is used because it is flexible and provides the adaptability needed for fitting around the various shapes of the glass pieces.

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  1. Glazing

“Glazing” is the term for assembling a panel of stained glass that can then be set into a window. After separate pieces of glass are painted and fired, they are placed in position on the cartoon and joined together with lead came to form a panel.

The sections of came are then joined together with solder, an alloy of lead and tin that melts easily at a low temperature and sets quickly.

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  1. Cementing

The panel is then cemented to help secure the glass within the leads and to waterproof the window. A semi-liquid cement is applied with a brush and then is covered with a layer of chalk or sawdust to absorb excess liquid. The medieval recipe for this cement is not known, though the main ingredients were probably crushed chalk and linseed oil. The panel is then scrubbed down with a dry brush until the cement only remains under the lead.

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  1. Scrubbing the panel with a dry brush

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Stained Glass Dome

Stained glass domes and ceilings from Hongjia Glass are a unique and interesting way to add color and light to any space. The modular design of our stained glass ceilings and domes allows for us to create them in any shape. The modular pieces can be combined to make any size dome or ceiling you desire. We have lots of designs to choose from us or send your designs and ideas, and we can customize them for you.

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We are happy to answer any questions, talk about options or assist with your unique needs.

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