Expressing Art with Stained Glass

Art is as old as civilization itself. Ever since man became aware of his own existence, he has always tried to express his feeling through art. There are many forms of art. Painting, music, crafts and literature–the genius of centuries are all art. Man has known glass since the past few thousand years. And so glass has been one of the media of his expression of beauty and art. Often we come across magnificent pieces of art made of glass. Windows and cut glass, lamps and household articles–all of these are the magic of stained glass.

The term “stained glass” can refer to two things. It may refer to the material that makes colored glass. It also refers to the art and craft of working with it to produce beautiful designs. Stained glass, as a material, refers to the glass that is given color using salts. These salts are infused into the molten glass during the manufacture process. Yellow color is often used to enhance the look of stained glass. Further, stained glass is painted to give a colorful appearance. Stained glass also refers to windows that have been painted and then annealed in a furnace to give a very beautiful appearance to the window.

Extreme artistic and engineering skills are needed to produce stained glass. Artistic skills are needed to create the design and engineering skills are required to mount the decorative piece in its place such that it sustains its own weight. Stained glass windows are not windows in the true sense of the word. The purpose of stained glass windows is not to admit light or allow the people inside to see outside. Rather, they are used to control light. Stained glass windows are often called “illuminated wall decorations”.

Stained glass windows may or may not be used to depict something. Many stained glass windows depict events that have been drawn from the Bible. They also represent history of literature, saints and patrons. Symbolic motifs are also depicted in some cases. Themes can be etched on stained glass windows. Stained glass windows are often customized for the location and occasion. For example, stained glass windows present in churches depict the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, those found in parliaments show shields of various constituencies in the country and those found in universities depict arts and sciences.

Stained glass has been one of the most creative ways of expressing art. In fact, many tourist places have become attractions only because of the stained glass windows. Stained glass will always take its place besides other arts like paintings and literature.