The Art of Window Glazing

The Art of Window Glazing

Introduction to the art of window glazing and decorating.

Craftsman Style

The art of the glass painter was at first only the art of the glazier. To say that may seem like self-contradiction. But it is not so. On the contrary, it is almost literally the truth ; and it is difficult to find words which would more vividly express the actual fact.

Ancient Arab Window
Ancient Arab Window.

We are accustomed to think of a painter as using pigment always in some liquid form, and applying it to wood or plaster, canvas or paper, with a brush. Should he lay it on with a palette knife, as he sometimes does, it is painting still. If he could by any possibility put together his colours in mid-air without the aid of paper, canvas, or other solid substance, it would still be painting. This is very much what the worker in stained glass, by the help of strips of intervening lead, practically succeeded in doing.

As a painter places side by side dabs of paint, so the glazier put side by side little pieces of coloured glass. (Glass, you see, was the medium in which his colour was fixed, just as oil, varnish, wax, or gum is the vehicle in which the painter's pigment is ordinarily held in suspension.) He could execute in this way upon the bench or the sloped easel quite an elaborate pattern in coloured glass; and although, in order to hold the parts together in a window frame, he had perforce to resort to some sort of binding, in lead or what not, he may still reasonably be said, if not actually to have painted in glass, at all events to have worked in it. In fact, until about the twelfth century, there were no glass painters, but only glaziers. Nay, more, it is to glaziers that we owe the glory of the thirteenth century windows, in which, be it remembered, each separate touch of colour is represented by a separate piece of glass, and each separate piece of glass is bounded by a frame-work of lead connecting it with the neighbouring pieces, whilst the detail added by the painter goes for not very much.

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