Painting with Light

Even on a gloomy midwinter’s day, sunlight filters through stained glass, dazzling the eyes and enlightening the mind with all its glorious colors.  Stained glass windows can be found everywhere, from churches and hotels to cruise ships and homes.  First and foremost, it is a beautiful art form, but there is more to this than meets the eye.  Let’s dig a little deeper into the world of stained glass. 

Traditional Stained Glass

There are two types of stained glass:

1. Traditional Stained Glass – Individual pieces of glass soldered together, as shown above.  This labor-intensive process is well-worth the effort, but it also adds to the expense of the finished piece.  Additional details may be painted by hand on the interior face of the glass. 

Painted Glass (aka Enamelled Glass)

2. Painted Glass – Designs are painted on glass with special pigments containing ground glass, which must be fired in a kiln to permanently fuse the colors to complete the process. 

With or Without

Minute details, such as this fish’s fins, scales, and lively expression, have been hand painted to create a one-of-a-kind aquatic treasure.  With bold colors and thoughtful design, the lovely rose, shown above, can stand on its own without the need for hand-painted embellishments. 

Close Encounters

This colorful contemporary glass reminds me of the musical light board in the movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”  The soft glowing colors and textured glass make you wonder what awaits inside. 

Forever Yours

Delicately painted white blossoms, set against a bold red and green background, will flower for eternity. 

A Rose by Any Other Name

Rose windows adorn many churches around the world.  If you ever wondered what it would be like to stand inside a kaleidoscope, this is your chance to find out. 

Stairway to Heaven

Stained glass panels entice the viewer to follow the spiral path upward toward the heavenly white light. 

Tell Me a Story

Truly a picture is worth a thousand words.  Today we take reading for granted, but in the past illiteracy was common.  Story telling with pictures enabled everyone to learn.  Some windows depicted detailed biblical scenes, while others were more abstract with easily understood symbolism. 

On the Grid

A strong rectilinear grid, repetitious patterns, and a soft blue background unify this harmonious ceiling design.  The free form, brilliant colors, and contrasting, copper architectural details provide an interesting focal point in this cruise ship lounge. 

Heads Up

Glass dome decorative motifs are complimented by the plaster architectural ornamentation.  The glass dome on the right is framed by metallic gold trim and adorned with metallic blue spheres, drawing the eye upward toward this playful stained glass focal point. 

In the Eye of the Beholder

Context & symbolism go hand in hand.  In a church, a white dove usually symbolizes the Holy Spirit, but in secular architecture it is a sign of peace or a celebration of nature.  Stained glass in churches is often donated as memorials.  Did you know the artist often painted the face of an angel or saint to resemble a deceased member of the donor’s family?  You and I see an angel, but the family sees Grandma Agnes. 

A Little Piece of History

Instead of painting on canvas or sculpture, historical figures and events have been honored in stained glass.

Eternal Spring

This beautiful Art Nouveau masterpiece includes a portrait as well as a very lush floral landscape in celebration of springtime. 

“Building” an Addition

This window visually expands the architectural space, making the building and property feel stately and grand.  It can also obscure an unsightly view, while providing scenic eye candy for the viewer. 

It’s a Jungle Out There

Several artistic tricks are used to create this lively wild jungle, including perspective, overlapping images, and the shape of the individual glass pieces. 

A Grand Illusion

Vibrant colors and clever design are the keys to this amazing stained-glass window.  The play of light and shadow, three-dimensional rendering, and concealing most of the lead strips, creates the illusion of Christ standing in front of the window. 

Let There Be Light

Stained Glass Wall Art

This may look like a painting in a frame, but it is all stained glass, including the “frame.”  You may not be able to tell from the photo, but this “window” is on an interior wall!  At this point, you probably have one question: How could the glass glow without sunlight?  I’m glad you asked!  A light fixture, either fluorescent or LED, is recessed into the wall.  A sheet of white glass conceals the light bulbs or tubes.  The stained-glass is the final layer.  Turn on the light and you will have the full colorful effects without the sun! 

I hope you enjoyed our little exploration and picked up a few ideas to incorporate stained glass into your life.  Until next time…

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!