Inlaid & Annealed Window Glazing

Inlaid & Annealed Window Glazing

The methods of inlay and annealing in window glazing.

Craftsman Style

Stain and abrasion, by means of which either of the three primaries can be got upon white, afford, it will be seen, a workmanlike way of avoiding leadwork. But there are other ways. There is a window at Montmorency in which the stigmata in the hands and foot of S. Francis are represented by spots of ruby glass inlaid or let into the white flesh, with only a ring of lead to hold them in place. It would never have occurred to a fourteenth century glazier to do that. He would have felt bound to connect that ring of lead with the nearest glazing lines, at whatever risk of marring his flesh painting; but then, his painting would not have been so delicate, and would not in any case have suffered so much.

Indeed, the more delicate painting implies a certain avoidance of lead lines crossing it, and hence some very difficult feats of glazing. This kind of inlaying was never very largely used, but on occasion not only a spot but even a ring of glass round it would be let in in this way. There is a window at Bourges in which the glories of the saints are inlaid with jewels of red, bluer green, and violet, which have more the effect of jewellery than if they had been glazed in the usual way. Whether it was worth the pains is another question.

A more usual, and less excusable, way of getting jewels of colour upon white glass was actually to anneal them to it. By abrading the ground it was possible to represent rubies or sapphires, surrounded by pearls, in a setting of gold, but not both rubies and sapphires. In order to get this combination they would cut out little jewels of red and blue, fix them temporarily in their place, and fire the glass until these smaller (and thinner) pieces melted on to and almost into it; the fusion, however, was seldom complete. At this date some of the jewels, as for example, at S. Michael's, Spurrier Gate, York, are usually missing but for which accident one would have been puzzled to know for certain how this effect was produced. The insecurity of this process of annealing is inevitable. Glass is in a perpetual state of contraction and expansion, according to the variation of our changeable climate. The white glass and the coloured cannot be relied upon to contract and expand in equal degree; they are seldom, in fact, truly married. The wedding ring of lead was safer. Sooner or later incompatibility of temper asserts itself, and in the course of time they fidget themselves asunder.

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