The artisan draws a cartoon template, cuts the glass to size, and makes and applies the paint. He ads illustrative and color details with outlines, matting, stippling, paint scraping, and silver staining.
Next, glass pieces are assembled into the template, then joined with long lead pieces. Soldered ends hold the pieces together. The application of glazing cement and chalk waterproofs the piece for the ages.
This is how medieval-era stained glass panels were made. The music-filled V&A video above documents the reproduction of a 14th century stained glass panel that was in the choir windows of Erfurt Cathedral in eastern Germany.
During the Gothic period and the Renaissance (1100s–1500s) stained glass was one of the foremost techniques of painting practiced in Europe. It may seem surprising to call stained glass a form of painting, but in fact it is. Look closely at the image here and note that the surfaces of each piece of glass are painted in a wide range of dark tones. One of the most widespread forms of painting, stained glass inspired the lives of the faithful through religious narratives in churches and cloisters, celebrated family and political ties in city halls, and even decorated the windows of private houses.
The term stained glass derives from the silver stain that was often applied to the side of the window that would face the outside of the building. When the glass was fired, the silver stain turned a yellow color that could range from lemon to gold. Stained glass was usually used to make windows, so that the light would shine through the painting. It is a form of painting that began over 1,000 years ago and is still essentially made the same way today.
Watch more glass and V&A videos next:
• Magic Lantern Slides
• How to make a turquoise goblet
• Remaking an ancient glass fish at the Corning Museum of Glass
• 3D scanning and printing artifacts at the V&A
• In Search of Forgotten Colours – Sachio Yoshioka and the Art of Natural Dyeing
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