Creating Stained Glass Windows - An Overview
first step in creating a stained glass window is to determine the desire of the
church congregation, usually through consultation with an art window committee.
It is the designers task to interpret the clients desire for expression
of faith, history, or aspirations within the chosen artistic style. They will
set aside sufficient time to discuss the project in detail, exchanging ideas
using photographs, drawings, and sketches until a concept is revealed. The
designer will then prepare a color proposal rendering for presentation, after
which refinements will be made until a final design is agreed upon.
One of the most significant stages in the creation of a stained glass window is
glass selection. There are literally thousands of different colors, textures
and densities of glass available today. The designer will propose a selection
of glass for the various areas of the window coinciding with the final color
rendering and together with the client, make the final decisions for the colors
and textures from actual glass samples.
all stained glass windows have painted details. Depending on the design style
chosen, a window may require painting to define border and/or background
details. If the design is figurative, painting will be necessary to add
realistic details to the faces, hands, and clothing. After the glass has been
cut and shaped into the various component pieces, the artist applies the paint,
using traditional glass "stains", mat blending colors, and colored
enamels. This process of "staining" the glass is where the term
"stained glass" comes from.
Assembly and Fabrication
every glass component has been cut, shaped, and painted it is time to assemble
or "lead up" the stained glass window. Usually the designer will make
one final inspection of the window arranged on a light table or glass easel to
view it exactly as it will be assembled. Once satisfied, the fabricator begins
the leading process by stretching an "H" channel strip of lead
(called a "came") then place it on the assembly drawing along one
outside edge of the window. The first glass piece is positioned and temporarily
held with a tack nail. Another lead strip is cut, shaped and positioned then
the second, adjoining glass piece is arranged into the assembly. This operation
continues until every component is in place. The final step in the assembly
process is to solder the lead strips together at each joint, to hold the
stained glass window together.
Cementing and Cleaning
important process will stiffen and strengthen the leaded panels, making them
weather tight. The cement or putty is pushed into the space between the flanges
of the lead came and the glass, on both sides of the window. Then the excess is
cleaned off with a special compound called "whiting", leaving the
glass unsoiled and imparting an aesthetically pleasing dark "patina"
on the surface of the lead came.
When the window is complete, the client will be contacted to set an appointment
for installation of the new stained glass window. This is a crucial final step
and it must be performed by qualified installers who understand the
requirements for reinforcing. If exterior protective glazing was specified for
the window, it should be installed at this time as well.