The History of Stained Glass

Worldwide the history of stained glass rose with its early beginnings one country at a time. The development of stained glass has been a struggling endeavor to evolve into what it is today. It has been a constant learning process for each and every country and each individual artist. Much like the ever changing stained glass itself, the process, the skills and the beauty of the finished pieces change as our appreciation continues to grow.

The creation of stained glass was not even a concept in its early beginnings, but developed slowly over time until it finally became perfected as a work of art. The history of stained glass begins to unfold as glass had to be invented first and it went through a series of discoveries before it became an every day reality such as glass window panes or bottles.

Once the ability to make glass was overcome the next natural step was to intensify the beauty of glass with what we term as “stain glass”. The evolution of using minerals (metallic oxides and salts) to stain the glass created a new vivid world of color, images and designs forming a new vision of artwork and highly decorative windows. The early history began as building blocks taking us to the creative art forms you see today.

The first obvious appearance showed up in churches in the 10th century, with biblical scenes in German and French churches. Many people were uneducated and these scenes were often used as a teaching method. Much of today’s beautiful stained glass windows can be attributed to the transformation of churches into cathedrals during the Gothic age in Europe. Buildings were becoming taller with larger openings in thinner walls. Rather than using clear glass, artists began incorporating stained windows into the buildings design.

By the18th century scientists, historians and amateur artists rediscovered the beauty of pieces and the history of stained glass was back on track! English immigrants by the name of the Bolton Brothers were one of the first artists to establish stained glass studios in America. It wasn’t long there after, that two famous American painters would begin to change the history once again.

The time period was set in the mid 1800’s when Tiffany and Lafarge began glass experiments hoping to achieve some great visual effects, without painting glass as their predecessors had done. Today you know them from history as Louis Comfort Tiffany and John LaFarge. What had been a struggling time for the evolution of stained glass for centuries would now become the reality of stained glass today!

These two gentlemen were competing rivals, creating and reproducing ornate stained windows used in both churches and private residences. By 1879 LaFarge had designed, developed and copyrighted opalescent glass. Both Tiffany and LaFarge were experimenting with highly colored glass, elaborate cuts, glass layering and plating techniques. They both succeeded in creating stained pieces rich in texture, depth and color.

John LaFarge continued to develop his work for churches and private homes and he remains a very important part of the history that we know. Tiffany was highly effective at marketing his products and his reputation for making opalescent glass pieces grew as fast as his skills developed. The process of adopting copper in place of lead strips surrounded by colored glass was a new innovation and style for the times.

Tiffany either had the luck of the Irish or a stroke of genius, using his techniques to create decorative lamp shades for new electric lighting! Tiffany lamps are a part of the history and highly in demand today. Louis Comfort Tiffany’s ancestors still carry on his legacy with beautiful stained glass lamps, with designs handed down from one generation to another.

Step by Step Copper Foil Stained Glass Instructions

Copper foiled stained glass is a very versatile form of construction for making stained glass. Panels can be made with very intricate designs and detail. The possibilities are almost endless. In addition to stained glass panels, other options include boxes, picture frames, fireplace screens, mirrors, doors, sidelights, transoms, cabinet inserts and sun catchers just to name a few.

Before you begin your first stained glass project, here are some essential tools and supplies you will need.

  • glass cutter
  • breaking pliers
  • running pliers
  • glass grinder
  • soldering iron
  • temperature controller
  • various stained glass for design
  • copper foil
  • solder
  • flux
  • finishing compound

Steps for Making Stained Glass

    1. Pick a project – This is only limited by your imagination
    2. Choose or make a pattern – Ready made patterns can be found in books, magazines and on the internet
    3. Select glass – The choices are almost endless. Check out your local stained glass retail store to view their selection
    4. Make paper templates and trace pattern pieces onto the glass
    5. Use a glass cutter to score the glass to fit the pattern pieces – Hold the cutter as you would a pen or pencil. Do not press too hard, this will cause a bad break. You should hear a soft scratching sound as you score the glass.
    6. Use running pliers and breaking pliers to break apart the score lines – If cutting a straight line, you can snap the glass with your hands.
    7. With the glass grinder, smooth and shape the glass for a final fit to the pattern
    8. Wrap each glass piece with copper foil – This allows the solder to adhere to the glass
    9. Assemble the pieces according to the pattern
    10. Apply flux to foiled pieces and solder seams – This step will take time and practice. Don’t give up. With time and practice you will achieve the solder seams you want.
    11. Attach zinc frame – This provides stability to your stained glass piece. Measure the width and height, then cut the zinc to fit your piece. Solder the corners, then solder adjacent solder seams to the zinc frame
    12. Remove flux residue – use commercial flux remover or a combination of dish soap and baking soda
    13. Apply patina – Patina is used to draw focus to the glass and design rather than the solder seams.
    14. Clean and polish – This last step will give your project the shine and brilliance you are looking for

    Now all you have to do is enjoy your work!

    Stained Glass Chandelier Parts

    Chandeliers have been around for centuries and lend elegance and beauty to any home. If you are a chandelier owner, then you know how quickly they can transform a room. Some say a dining room just isn’t complete without one. If you are looking for an exquisite way to use chandeliers in your home, consider stained glass chandelier parts. Stained glass chandeliers combine the beauty of stained glass with the elegance of a chandelier in one.

    The history of chandeliers is a rich one. They were first used in medieval times to light dark churches. These early chandeliers were not like the ones you see today. They were normally just wood and candles. But out of that came a lovely decorating and lighting trend. In the 15th century, gorgeous chandeliers started popping up in churches, palaces and homes of the very wealthy. Later, stained glass would be combined with these lovely lighting fixtures to create something very unique. With stained glass chandelier parts you can get in on the trend.

    When the Victorian’s started using stained glass, the stained glass chandelier was invented. This is a very beautiful item and quickly became popular. You can enjoy the beauty this fusion yourself with stained glass chandelier parts. Using stained glass, you can transform just plain, old, chandelier into a true work of art.

    Creating a stained glass chandelier is easy if you have the equipment. First, of course, you do need a chandelier. Look for these quite cheap in thrift stores and antique shops. Do not worry about the condition; you can do a lot to fix it up. Then shop for stained glass chandelier parts on the internet or in glass shops. eBay is a great place to find stained glass chandelier parts.

    If you are not interested in making your own stained glass chandelier, you can purchase one already made. Using stained glass chandelier parts, people have been making and selling stained glass chandeliers for years. Visit your local lighting shops to find just the right stained glass chandelier for your home. The beauty it will bring into your home will be worth searching for.