STAINED GLASS WINDOWS
Light. Stained glass windows are based primarily on the importance of light. Light represents God and His ultimate revealing of truth and faith through light. Since the Middle Ages, light has been used as a medium through which the Bible’s narrative was expressed. “God Light,” and stained-glass windows reveal that as well as the interior beauty of cathedrals and churches (Brisac 7). From Romanesque period stained glass, to immense Gothic windows, to contemporary and modern windows, stained glass has been vital as a narrative and an artform using light and skill for centuries.
Little remains of the Romanesque stained-glass windows remain, with their bold boarders, bright colors, and mosaic-like design. Many windows depict religious scenery and long narratives with glass that is now long faded, but still impressive. Romanesque windows are most often discovered through archaeological excavation and was one of the reasons that sparked the archaeological frenzy of the antiquity. Antiquarianism was a period of coinsures of art and décor that caused people to excavate for sculptures, valuable metallic and jeweled pieces, pottery, paintings, and stained-glass in order to keep them in their homes or buildings in order to promote and show their status. The antiquity as since died out but the love of stained-glass windows remains. Romanesque windows eventually evolved into much larder and more detailed Gothic-style windows like the pieces found in The Notre Dame Cathedral and Saint Chapelle in France. These windows are beautiful, vast, and larger than life while still keeping with the Romanesque tradition of telling Biblical narratives. Gothic windows featured a narrower color palate but were still just as vibrant as Romanesque windows. Gothic windows are the most widely viewed and revered forms of stained glass with millions of people visiting cathedrals foremostly for the purpose of seeing and basking-in the beauty of the windows. Many windows in cathedrals and churches were also painted with a vitreous paint of a brown or black color to depict expression, clothing, drapery, and movement on top of the color (Brisac 182). Painting on glass is still used today both in churches as well as in government buildings like the Oklahoma State Capitol where the state seal in the dome is painted by Tim Brown of Artistic Glass Studio. Many churches now have more modern styles of stained glass in their windows. Geometric shapes and designs, solid colors, and simple depictions of crosses are more popular in churches of today. These designs are still just as beautiful and convey spiritual emotion through light and color much like the stained-glass windows of old.
The process of creating a stained-glass window is long and intricate. First, the glass must be made. In The middle ages, glass was created using “two parts of wood ash […] to one part of river sand,” and then being blown and flattened (Brisac 180). The glass can be further stained or recolored using methods like silver stain (making the glass an orange or yellow hue), Jean Cousin (for flesh colors), and enamels. The artist designs the glass by either hand drawing it or designing it on a commuter program, like Tim does. Designing a window on a computer can create a supremely accurate and intricate model of how the window will look when completed. The design can then be printed out full size and the artist can create a cutline design and template which will then be cut into pieces that will match up with the glass pieces and membered. The artist will take the glass panels and cut them with a diamond-cutter, but shallowly, allowing the artist to chip and break the glass by hand to the desired size and shape. The template pieces and glass pieces will be matched up and placed in order on a large template paper. Glazing is the process of placing the pieces of glass in together using lead cames, or strips. These lead cames are placed in between each piece of glass and then soldered together when the entire window is made. The window is then waterproofed by using a cement-like material and a calcium carbonate powder to fill in the gaps between the lead and the glass. Through waterproofing, the windows the artist can ensure that the windows will last through Oklahoma’s rain and windstorms. Then comes the installing. Each panel of a window is set into a frame and installed into the building! The window is now ready to let multi-colored light and beauty into any space.
Tim Brown and Artistic Glass Studio can create, restore, or repair any stained-glass window in church, home, or business. Tim can paint, etch, and blow glass; he has had years of practice in the entire window-creating process and works tirelessly to make every window he comes across as beautiful as possible.
Stained Glass Windows are an art-form that has been in existence for centuries and can continue to bring beauty and light to many.
Brisac, Catherine. A Thousand Years of Stained Glass. Translated by Geoffrey Culverwell, photographs by Yukichi Watabe, Chartwell Books, 2000.