Glass Selection and Fabrication

When the client and artist have settled on a design, the project is scheduled and full-size measurements and templates are taken. The artist begins by drafting a full-size pattern drawing consisting of the lead lines in the window.

Lead is the matrix that holds the dozens, hundreds or even thousands of colored glass pieces together in the finished window. A "leaded" glass window is fabricated using lead strips (called "cames") that are extruded in the shape of an "H". A window may use only one size of came or it may have several sizes and shapes to fulfill certain design effects. Artistically the lead lines create a negative space (areas not transmitting light) and the careful mix of negative and positive space is very important in any work of art.

Structural composition is the rudimentary element that determines how long a stained glass window will last. A large window will be fabricated in several independent sections that will be layered or stacked during installation into the window frame. Leaded glass windows should be limited to panel sections of 12 square feet (1.2 square meters) or less. A competent designer must take into account the structural requirements for the chosen design and make the necessary adjustments based on the window’s proportions. If designed, fabricated and installed correctly a stained glass window will last for generations.

Glass Selection

One of the most significant stages in the creation of a stained glass window is glass selection. We literally have thousands, close to 4,000 different colors, textures and densities of glass readily available today. The various types of stained glass range from clear "cathedral" or semi see-through colored glass to "opalescent" or milky (white-streaky) glass. It may be manufactured or "rolled" by machine or it may be hand-mixed and rolled by a small crew of glassmakers. Alternatively, it may be made mouth-blown by skilled artisans in the "antique" tradition. The varieties of glass you may encounter within these manufactured types are seedy (bubbles), crackle, flashed, reamy, and streaky glass. You will also find a variety of textures available such as ripple, baroque, granite, water, fibrillated, chipped, and many others.

To expand the available range of color, texture and density even further, American artists such as Louis Comfort Tiffany and John LaFarge devised a process called "plating" which they used extensively in their stained glass windows. A "plate" is a second layer of glass, added to a selected area within the window to create a new color or to increase the perception of depth. Some art glass windows fabricated by the L.C. Tiffany & Co. in the late 1800’s & early 1900’s have areas with up to seven plates on top of one another to achieve the artists desired effect.

Just imagine, we have an assortment of more than 4,000 glass varieties available to us and placing two layers together theoretically expands the glass selection possibilities to a mind numbing 16,000,000. Those possibilities expand exponentially as more plate-layers are added. Of course, with each subsequent layer of plating, the glass density increases thereby lowering the transmitted light, so limitations do exist.

Article continues... Glass Cutting and Shaping

Or jump to another section of the article through one of the following links:

Sandor

Above: Laying out the lead lines of a pattern using a computer. Below: Shawn Robinson is printing a full-size pattern from the computer on a pen plotter.
Sandor
Sandor

A "leaded" glass window is fabricated using lead strips (called "cames") that are extruded in the shape of an "H".

The various types of stained glass range from clear "cathedral" or semi see-through colored glass to "opalescent" or milky (white-streaky) glass.

We literally have thousands, close to 4,000 different colors, textures and densities of glass readily available today.

A careful examination of this photo of a restored Tiffany window reveals extensive use of plating. The arrows on the photo point out some of the multi-level plated areas.
Man has the power to create his own reality through the power of his consciousness. He can choose to live in the ever changing desert of temporal pleasures and suffering. If we simply go to The Kingdom of God within us all, we can connect to a pipeline that is ever flowing from the ocean of God's love. Quenching the desert of temporal existence to make it bloom in spiritual bliss. - R. B.