Stained Glass Windows History and Exquisite Beauty
How Stained Glass Began
The origin of stained glass windows has been lost in history, but it has admired for its beauty since the 10th century where depictions of Christ and biblical scenes graced churches in France, Germany and some in England.
Between the years of 1150-1500, stained glass reached its peak in Rome with magnificent windows being created for the great cathedrals.
A twelfth-century German monk, named Theophilus, gives the best known history of stained glass. He was an artist and metal worker. He studied glaziers and glass painters at work in order to provide more detail for creating attained glass window of immeasurable beauty. He wrote directions for craftsmen to follow.
Medievil Stained Glass
How Window Were Created
The methods for creating windows isn’t too different today. First you mark out the dimensions of length and width on a wooden board, draw the pattern that pleases you and select colors. Next, you cut the glass and fit the pieces together with the grozing iron (similar to a soldering iron).
Enclose them with lead came and solder all four sides. Surround the glass window with a wooden frame and secure in place with nails. The windows must be well made to endure rain, wind, snow and, it must support its own weight.
The basic ingredients of glass in those times consisted of sand, and wood ash (potash); then, the mixture is melted into a liquid which cools as glass. The colors were made using metallic salts and powered metals during its manufacture while the glass was still molten. Molten glass can be blown into a sausage shape, and then slit on the side before flattened into a sheet.
The medieval stained glass windows in Canterbury Cathedral are among the earliest and finest in Europe. The oldest window, a charming depiction of Adam digging with a spade, dates from about 1180 AD, and more continued to be added throughout the Middle Ages. Thanks to a thorough program of cleaning and restoration in recent years, many of these windows are more beautiful now than they have been for centuries.
Canterbury Cathedral, Glass by Beckett
The Art of Stained Glas
Stained glass is an art and a craft. It requires the artist to have a vision to conceive their project and to choose colors and textures of glass that are pleasing to the eye. There must be an appropriate workable design and the skills to fit the glass pieces snuggly together which can be quite difficult.
Stained Glass a Lost Art for 300 Years
By the 15th century paler colors were used which allowed more light and figures were larger. They rediscovered silver stain which allowed the artist to realistically depict yellow hair and golden garments. Stained glass artists became stained glass painters as the form moved closer to panel painting.
The Renaissance brought the art of stained glass into a 300 year period where windows were heavily painted white glass, thus losing all their former glory and symbolism. Their innate beauty was all but forgotten.
Many of the stained glass windows remain after hundreds of years and are there for your viewing should you be fortunate enough to visit these exquisite cathedrals.
© 2010 Pamela Oglesby