Over the past couple of millenniums, stained glass windows have established a rich heritage having been used across the globe. The styles and purposes of these stained glass windows have differed greatly over the vast number of years, but so too have the methods of creating the glass. The methods have been altered, lost, rediscovered and modernized. Here’s just a few of the methods used to forge stained glass windows over time:
An ancient method used in the very early years of production, cylinder glass is also known as blown glass for the reason that it is created using a blowpipe. Molten glass is heated to the extreme in a furnace, before air is blown into it to stretch the shape and add texture. It is then further shaped and manipulated, using a variety of tools, into a cylinder before being flattened as it cools to create the sheet.
Rather than using air to forge a shape from the glass, rolled glass is formed by pouring molten glass into a table that’s made of metal or graphite to withstand such high temperatures. The molten glass is rolled straight away, like dough, with a machine or with hand tools. Once it cools, the rolled glass forms a sheet perfect for cutting up. The rolled glass can be turned into textured glass by pressing patterns into the sheet as it cools.
Similarly to cylinder glass, crown glass uses a bubble of air to form the initial shape. The molten glass is then spun, by hand or by a tool similar to a potter’s wheel. As it spins, it flattens with a curved, wave-like texture across the sheets. The centre of the sheet from which the glass was spun is thicker and leaves a small pointed lump (called a ‘bulls eye’) that you’ll often see in small stained glass windows of the 1 and 17 centuries.
Flashed glass was designed to be the middle ground between the thick but opaque coloured glass found in large churches, and thin transparent glass. Flashed glass is clear glass that’s coated with coloured glass before the cooling process for a thick but relatively transparent finish. The multiple layers also means it is easier to add complex details and patterns, hence the sudden intricacy of 16-century windows. Detailed designs emerged, such as coats of arms and fluent writing.
Sherriff Stained Glass Specialists combines traditional methods with contemporary practice to create high quality stained glass and leaded windows in Bournemouth and the southern counties of England, from London to Bristol. For more information about Sherriff Stained Glass Specialists services or to discuss a project of your own, call us on 01202 882208.
Author: Sherriff Stained Glass Specialists
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