Stained glass is a highly decorative form of window design, one which colors and patterns the sunlight, or artificial light, admitted into a building. First produced in Europe during the Middle Ages, stained glass has remained most popular for, and associated with, church construction. Private homes can also be enhanced, however, by the addition of stained glass panes.
Beveled glass - Beveling means modifying the edges of material so they are not perpendicular with each other, and is typically performed for stained glass.
Muff - One of the oldest techniques used to produce stained glass, in which molten material is blown out through a pipe into the desired shape, along with the necessary amount of oxygen.
Tabled glass - Also called rolled glass, manufacturers perform this technique by affixing molten glass to a table using a cylinder.
Crown glass - After having blown out the molten glass, the artisan will then spin it out into a flat shape, which can then be subdivided into different panes according to the selected design.
Flashed glass - In this technique, the stained glass window is made of two layers fused together, one consisting of a red laminate, and the other of a clear pane.
Cartoon - In stained glass design, sketches for the individual window panes, referred to as openings.
Grozing - A method for fitting the different openings to each other by scraping off the edges with tools.
Ferramenta - Heavy black frames which have been used in stained glass since the Middle Ages.
Silver nitrate - A method for giving a yellow cast to stained glass panes.
Eglomise - A technique to make the stained glass pattern visible from both sides.
Stained glass has been used for a very long time; long enough that its origins are lost. It is colored using various minerals and then cut into pieces which are put together like a mosaic.
Medieval stained glass remains in many old churches, with patterns showing saints and scenes from the Bible. In modern times, it is considered an art form, although some of it is manufactured to simple designs. Cheap stained glass is often used to decorate door panels or items of furniture.
Expensive glass is designed by artists. It is sometimes used to make windows, but ornaments and furniture are more common, especially lamp shades. Beads are commonly used in costume and fashion jewelry. Stained glass was very popular in the art deco era, and antiques from this period often feature it. Many pieces are used to provide colorful highlights to a room's décor.
Stained glass can be mass produced or hand made. Most is leaded, as with traditional church windows. Higher quality glass is copper foiled. In both cases, the metal frames are soldered together around the panels, with some pieces being fused directly. Patterns are made to templates, generally sketched out on paper first. Artisans may make blown stained glass themselves. Hand-blown glass is considered particularly valuable.
True stained glass has the color made into the panel itself. However, some 'stained' glass is, in fact, painted, allowing for more detail at the cost of durability. Etched, frosted and beveled pieces are also sold. Ornamental glass panels are sometimes built into windows or may be hung on the inside. Interior designers may make a piece of stained glass a highlight or the center of a room.
Hobbyists may also make stained glass. Such artisans, of course, need courses in how to perform their craft correctly, using tools and supplies.