Glass has been prized for centuries for its durable and luminous colour and its unique ability to transform space through painting with light. Traditional stained glass techniques have evolved from those used in Medieval Europe, and many are still important today. However, in the last twenty years, technologies such as silk-screen and lamination have opened up a broader marketplace for architectural glass, facilitating exciting new and cost-effective possibilities for the medium.
Acid etching removes the surface of the glass where a resist has not been applied, this causes a texture to form on the glass. If acid etching is used on flash glass where the colour is a thin layer over a clear piece of glass, the acid can be used to remove the colour, either fully to bring the glass back to clear or to create different shades of the colour. The image below shows the process of multi-acid etching, and how the acid has taken away the colour on flash glass; the paler coloured areas have been exposed to the acid for longer.
Stained Glass Painting
Traditional lead oxide paint is used to create the painted areas of the design. This is applied to the surface of the glass using different brushes and techniques to achieve the design wanted. The paint is then fired into the glass in a kiln which melts the paint onto the glass.
Stained Glass Staining
Silver oxide paint is used to create the yellow/orange on the glass. It was traditionally used on angels in stained glass windows. This is applied to the surface of the glass using different brushes and techniques to achieve the design wanted. The glass is then fired which creates a chemical reaction between the paint and the glass causing the glass to turn a yellow/orange in the places where the paint has been applied. Once fired the paint residue is then removed.
In areas which are more detailed or are of a photograph, the technique of silk-screen printing can be used. The image is silk-screen printed onto the glass using glass enamels then fired in the kiln to set the paint into the glass.
Hand-Blown Antique Glass
In our studio we use a lot of antique glass. This type of glass is made using the traditional techniques of blowing glass into a bulb. The bulb is then swung to lengthen it into a cylinder. One end is opened, cut along an edge and then flattened into a sheet. This technique means that the glass isn’t flat like float glass, but has a movement and surface texture that brings it to life.
Making the glass - Glashutte Lamberts
Example of hand-blown antique glass
Kiln Forming & Fusing
Glass is heated up in the kiln to manipulate the glass in different ways. The glass can be heated to fuse pieces of glass on top of each other in a kiln or it can be heated so that it slumps onto a textured surface of plaster or fibre paper, or it can be slumped into a mould.
Gilding is a technique where fine sheets of gold or white gold leaf are applied to the glass using a brush and adhesive. This creates a shimmery and rich antique mirror-like effect on the glass.