Gomm Stained Glass
Blog titled "My Stained Glass Adventures"
Are The Different Types And Qualities Of Stained Glass?|
Many times we meet
people who are interested in stained glass, but they haven’t learned
enough about it to really be able to tell whether a piece of glass is a
true work of art or just a good piece. I once overheard a woman gushing
over a piece of glass that had been painted with fake glass paints, the
kind that craft stores sell. “Oh, Look at that, I love stained glass,
that is just exquisite!” Her comments were nice since she had an
appreciation for art glass, but they were also ridiculous because painted
fake glass just isn’t in the same class as other techniques and
certainly should never be described as “exquisite”.
So that incident
prompted me to write this brief description of what the different types
and qualities of stained glass are. After reading the following
paragraphs, you will be more qualified and more able to distinguish
between good glass and great glass than the majority of people you meet.
You will be well on your way towards becoming a “Stained Glass
1. Brass And
Glass – made of Brass
pre-shaped metal (or brass encased lead), called “came”. The stained
glass is encased in the pre-formed metal and the joints where the metal
meets are then soldered. After the panel is completed and soldered, the
joints are colored with a brass colored paint so that they look brass.
windows match the brass plated hardware on many homes. Brass windows are
almost always mass produced, so cost is usually lower than other styles of
Brass windows usually don’t get the glass and metal cemented to each
other, so they are not as strong and have a tendency to rattle more often
than any other stained glass window. If the panel is sandwiched between
tempered glass sheets, the lack of strength is not a big deal.
Quality: This is
the lowest quality of stained glass available and is usually found in
cheap furniture and mass produced door frames. It hasn’t been around for
a long time and is often associated with the cheap waterbeds of the
||2. Leaded Glass
– refers to both beveled glass and colored glass surrounded by
pre-shaped lead, called “came”. The stained glass is encased in lead
and the joints where the metal meets are then soldered. The solder and the
lead look very similar, so no special treatments are needed in the joints
as with brass came. After the panel is completed and soldered, the windows
are cemented by forcing cement in under the metal and the glass. Then the
exposed glass is cleaned thoroughly.
construction is the most common type of stained glass to be found. If
cemented well the window is fairly strong. The leaded method is fast to
construct, so is quite popular in commercial installations.
the window isn’t cemented, the lead will easily stretch over time and
the glass shapes will deform quite easily. Windows that are placed in
insulated units can’t be cemented because the cement reacts with the
desiccant in the foam tape used to create insulated units.
Quality: This is
the mid-range of stained glass quality. It’s not bad, just not the best.
There is pretty good detail available in this type of panel and it is
quite good for many styles of glass design. If it wasn’t fairly good it
wouldn’t be found in so many highly respected installations.
||3. Copper Foiled
or “Tiffany Style” Glass
– refers to stained glass construction where each piece of glass is
individually wrapped in a copper foil tape and the gaps between the glass
are soldered with lead and tin based solder, usually 50/50 mix or 60/40
mix. After the panel is completed it is very strong and pretty often water
tight. Chemicals are then added to color the lead lines, either copper,
bronze or black. The lines can also be left pewter-like gray or they can
be polished to bright shiny silver. It’s often called “Tiffany
Style” because the studios of Louis Comfort Tiffany are credited with
coming up with the method in the late 1800’s.
foiled windows are very strong and allow the artist the most detail of any
of the construction methods. It also allows for the most ranges of patinas
of the methods discussed. The copper foil method allows an artist to
follow contours and so lamp shades and other 3d construction is almost
always built using this method.
takes a lot of work and is more labor intensive to hand solder each and
every solder line in a stained glass window, so these panels usually cost
more than the leaded type. Also, because the resulting windows are so very
strong, they can develop very slight hairline cracks as the glass expands
and contracts in the heat of the day and the cool of the night. These
cracks usually develop in the first year after a panel is installed and
Quality: This is
the highest quality of stained glass, but there are different ranges of
quality in this style. Imports will often have very thin lead lines not as
a design element, but as a way to save money on the amount of lead used to
construct the panel. The highest quality of copper foil constructed lamps
will feature a built up lead line which will often stand up the same
height as an extruded lead line. Best quality soldering will feature very
consistent lead lines and few if any areas where the lead has shrunk after
4. Epoxy Glued
Faceted Glass – refers to a
technique where thick slabs of glass are broken in rough pieces and glued
together using epoxy glue to form the joint between the various pieces of
glass. It’s very uncommon and not available in any but the most unusual
Gomm started building stained glass windows professionally back in 1983
and has become an expert at many aspects of stained glass building, design
and repair. He writes a monthly newsletter at www.betterstainedglass.com|
These articles may be distributed freely on your website
and in your ezines, as long as the entire article, copyright notice, links
and this resource box are unchanged, or if using a portion of the article,
it points back to one of our pages where the entire article resides.
Copyright © David Gomm All Rights Reserved.|