Glass Painting

Written by Laurie Nichol
Bookmark and Share

The methods of creating stained glass windows have changed little over the centuries. The skills and techniques have been handed down over generations through, primarily, the writings and works of religious figures, especially monks who specialized in this art. What Theophilus a 12th century German monk wrote of this art has changed very little, and for good reason.

The Various Techniques of Coloring Glasswork

At the time of Theophilus' writing, the only way to add color to stained glass windows was to incorporate metallic oxides during the glass creation process. The problem with this method was that the colors were often too opaque, and didn't let enough light pass through. This method, however, was soon improved upon.

The next discovery was that a more delicate effect could be produced if the glassmaker blew a sheet of glass from 2 different types. He would put a lump of clear glass, first, on the end of his pipe and, before blowing, add a colored lump to the white. This produced an equally vibrant color, but with a more translucent effect.

In still later years, silver stain began to be used (painted onto the back of the glass panels), giving us the modern term "stained glass windows," and giving the final colors an excellent opacity and vibrancy. For a brief period, artisans indulged in the trend of glass painting -- treating plain glass like a traditional painting, eschewing the need for rods and separate panels of glass. After a couple of centuries, though, this glass painting fell out of favor, and the popularity of traditional stained glass returned. Today, though, one can still find artisans who create works of this type -- with a very different texture and feeling from stained glass, they nevertheless have their own charms as a separate and distinct art form.

Bookmark and Share