Stain & Abrasion in Medieval Painted Windows

Stain & Abrasion in Medieval Painted Windows

The use of stain and abrasion techniques in medieval age painted windows.

Craftsman Style

It was by the combination of stain with abrasion that the most elaborately varied effects were produced. The painter could now not only stain his blue glass green (and just so much of it as he wanted green), but he could abrade the blue, so as to get both yellow, where the glass was stained, and white where it was not. Thus on the same piece of glass he could depict among the grass white daisies and yellow buttercups and bluebells blue as nature, he could give even the yellow eye of the daisy and its green calyx ; and, by judicious modification of his stain, he could make the leaves of the flowers a different shade of green from the grass about them. The drawing of the flowers and leaves and blades of grass, it need hardly be said, he would get in the usual way, tracing the outline with brown, slightly shading with half tint, and painting out only just enough of the ground to give value to his detail.

In spite of the tediousness of the process, abrasion was now largely used not only for the purpose of getting here and there a spot of white, as in the eyes of some fiery devil in the representation of the Last Judgment, but extensively in the form of diaper work, oftenest in the forms of dots and spots (the spotted petticoat of the woman taken in adultery in one of the windows at Arezzo seems happily chosen to show that she is a woman of the people), but also very frequently in the form of scroll or arabesque, stained to look like a gold tissue, or even to represent a garment stiff with embroidery and pearls. Often the pattern is in gold-and-white upon ruby or deep golden-brown, or in white-and-gold and green upon blue, and so on. In heraldry it is no uncommon thing to see the ground abraded and the charge left in ruby upon white. Sometimes a small head would be painted upon ruby glass, all of the colour being abraded except just one jewel in a man's cap.

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