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Article
Creating New Church Stained Glass Windows
Associated Crafts (2012)
  • John Phillips, Jr.
Abstract

There are a few different types of art glass used in churches today. This article is a discussion of various common types and styles of stained glass art found in religious institutions.

Keywords
  • stained glass,
  • architectural glass,
  • stained glass windows,
  • church windows,
  • cathedral windows
Publication Date
Spring March 22, 2012
Publisher Statement
Faceted Glass Faceted glass consists of approximately one-inch thick dalles of glass cut by hand and broken over an anvil. These pieces of glass are placed in a pattern on a table and a form is set around the perimeter of the panel. Sandy material called granules, are sprinkled between the pieces of glass. The next step is to pour a two-part epoxy resin between the pieces of glass. We then sprinkle another layer of granules over the epoxy resin. Once the epoxy sets, it results in a very strong load-bearing panel. Studios mainly use faceted glass for less complex designs. Faceted glass windows have a higher material costs but require significantly less labor, often making it a more cost effective solution. Faceted glass does not require a protective covering when installed and requires very little maintenance. (See example below.) Leaded Stained Glass Windows with little or no painted work are another type of stained glass art that studios commonly use. Leaded glass with little painted work is less labor intensive than fully hand painted stained glass windows. A Studio can design this medium to match most budgets and tastes. (See Step by step - leaded and painted construction below.) Fully Hand Painted Stained Glass Windows Hand painted stained glass windows are constructed the same as all leaded glass except that an artist will hand paint each piece of stained glass then fire the piece in a kiln to adhere the paint to the glass. Painting allows the artist to create levels of detail not possible with the other new window methods. This process is very time consuming; requires a very talented artist; and is a more costly method then the others. Whether you are constructing a new building or renovating an old one, keeping within a budget is always a concern. It is important to select a stained glass studio that has the versatility to present a variety of designs that are fitting to the church’s architecture and symbolic desires. Correctly designed windows can be achieved using any of the different types of stained glass available and your church should be given examples of each. Many quality studios will present examples of work that may not be specific to your project. They will usually ask that you hire their company first before providing specific renderings of your new church windows. It is up to the church committee to decide after interviews and reviewing prior examples as well as conducting background checks, if the studios they are considering are competent and easy to work with. Once the church committee selects the studio they want to work with, the studios’ artist will provide the church with specific renderings for their approval. It is important for the committee to review these renderings and only accept them if they are completely satisfied. This art form makes a large impact on any worship space. Take the time to be sure your selection is something that will satisfy you and your committee for generations to come. In non-painted windows, you should receive a small example of the glass to be used. The executing artist is gifted and experienced and you need to allow them to complete the creation with some freedom of selection. Too often a great artist was handicapped due to the many influences by the committee, which can often hamper the overall project. It is important to consider a stained glass studio that is versed in all areas of stained glass. For example, a stained glass studio that performs many restoration projects has great insight to the construction, bracing and installation of new windows. Through restoration experience, they have learned what works best long-term and what does not. Unfortunately, some beautiful new window creations that have been braced and installed improperly caused expensive repairs for the church long before it is appropriate. Step by step - leaded and painted construction The stained glass studio and its staff will meet with the committee to discuss the theme, design and coloring schemes of their client’s project. The studios artist will develop a thumbnail sketch or rendering or each window. The studio presents this rendering to the committee for their approval. Once approved, the studio turns the rendering into a full-scale cartoon. The cartoon is a full-size drawing depicting every piece of glass and lead came they will use. This drawing will be the exact size of the window and they should present it to the church committee for their review. This cartoon will not represent color but will show proportion of the design. This is a good checking point for the church prior to construction. After the church approves the full-scale rendering, the artist will select the glass the studio will use. The artist then codes each piece of glass selected onto the cartoon. The stained glass craftsmen will then cut each type of glass to match the cartoon. If the windows need painted, they will give the painted pieces back to the artist, who then hand paints each piece and then fires it in a kiln so the paint will permanently adhere to the stained glass. The painted pieces are then returned to the craftsmen who will then assemble the window using lead came to custom build the window. When it is complete, the craftsmen will solder each lead joint thus making the stained glass panel one solid piece. They then send the panel to an area for cementing. The craftsmen then brushes specially formulated cement compound over the panel working it under the flanges of the lead came. Next, they clean the excess cement off leaving cement under the lead came. This cement compound will weatherproof and help strengthen the stained glass window. The panel then dries flat for 48 hours while the cement cures. Cross Section of the Construction of a Stained Glasss Window They brace the panel on the interior surface to add extra support. This bracing system is designed in place according to the stained glass craftsmen who recognizes areas of weakness in the design. It is important that they add braces to provide maximum support with minimum intervention to the stained glass artwork. Once they complete the stained glass panels, they transport the windows to the stained glass job site for installation into the new or existing frames. We find our clients are served better if we provide their general contractor with framing specifications and installation requirements. This approach avoids unnecessary costs and scheduling problems for the church and general contractor. In some remolding situations, this approach is ineffective. In others, the stained glass studio should be responsible for the modification of the existing frames to accept the new stained glass panels correctly. The church needs to review the framing fully with their stained glass studio prior to making this decision. The stained glass windows should be divided into panels of approximately 12 square feet. In some installations, this might not be possible. Each panel is designed to supports it own weight ensuring that the bracing is adequate for the size of the panel. It is best that the studio installs the stained glass after the remodel is complete. It is best to install the stained glass windows prior to the installation of the carpet, flooring and pews. If not, others working in the building could potentially break or damage the windows. When installing new panels into a new double-glazed frame, the studio should shimmy the panels with setting blocks then secure with snap-on aluminum beads. If the exterior of the window has protective covering, then the stained glass is not sealed or caulked into place. We like to use black foam weather-stripping, which provides a clean perimeter line and holds the panel vertically into the aluminum channel against the backstop. This is the best type of installation, when applicable, because it allows others to remove the panels for easy cleaning or maintenance thus reducing potential damage to them. If the windows do not have an exterior protective covering, it is necessary to secure the panel with glazing tacks or screws and stops. Once secured, you should seal a panel on the exterior perimeter and interior perimeter with a compatible caulk. For some clients, studios used incompatible silicones in their installations that chemically reacted and caused lead deterioration over a few years. We do not recommend a non-flexible caulking such as dap glazing, as this will not allow any movement of the stained glass panel thus creating the potential for premature bulging. On a new installation that has protective covering, we recommend venting the windows from the exterior. If it is not possible to vent from the exterior, then you need to vent the interior. If the protective covering is insulation glass with a thermo broke frame, no venting is necessary.
Citation Information
John Phillips. "Creating New Church Stained Glass Windows" Associated Crafts (2012)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/associated_crafts/1/