Medieval Stained Glass Board

Medieval Stained Glass Board Medieval Times Visual Arts

When medieval glass artisans planned their stained-glass windows, how did they do it?

In a way, it was like putting together a puzzle.

After they made the glass, they cut it and placed bits of their glass product over designs which they created on a board (just as if they were working on a puzzle).

If the artisan wanted to incorporate details, like shadows, he painted on the glass and then fired it. Firing the glass would make those hand-painted additions a permanent part of the work.

This image depicts such a process which was used for the Girona Cathedral (located in the city of Girona, in northeastern Spain, which is north of Barcelona).

Curators, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, give us more details about how those medieval artisans assembled their beautiful glass works:

To assemble the window, pieces of colored and painted glass are laid out on the design board, with the edges of each piece fitted into H-shaped strips of lead (cames).

These cames are soldered to one another so that the panel is secure. When a panel is completed, putty is inserted between the glass and the lead cames for waterproofing. The entire composition is then stabilized with an iron frame (armature) and mounted in the window.

Have you wondered, parenthetically, why we call the glass in these gorgeous windows “stained glass?” There is actually a reason for it.

Artisans used a silver stain, which they often applied to the side of windows facing outside. When the artisans fired their glass, that silver stain turned a different color, typically yellow, which ranged from gold to lemon.

Beyond that, glass makers also painted on their glass works, staining the glass before it was fired. Those methods, from medieval times, are still used today.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jun 10, 2015

Updated Last Revision: Nov 05, 2016

Media Credits

Image, described above, online via Wikimedia Commons.


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"Medieval Stained Glass Board" AwesomeStories.com. Jun 10, 2015. Feb 25, 2020.
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