Stained glass

For many years, artisans have been inspired by different types of materials and one of the most important has undoubtedly been glass . The stained glass has been adopted with the passage of time, as a kind of art giving way to stunning shapes ranging from small objects to be used in modern facilities. Practically any type of scene or artistic motif can be represented in them and they are widely used in the decoration of temples and churches. It is also known by the name of polychrome stained glass .

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What is stained glass?

A stained glass window is a piece of glass that has managed to be colored using different types of metallic oxides allowing it to acquire specific shades. It is a decorative element that is placed with a series of pole rods that give it greater support.

  • Stained glass characteristics
  • Origin
  • History
  • Stained glass types
  • How do you create one
  • Techniques
  • Function
  • Stained glass paints
  • Importance

Stained glass characteristics

Among its main characteristics we can mention the following:

  • The stained glass windows have a good harmony with the environment that surrounds them because the artists use cold tones for places where the heat prevails and warmer tones when the cold prevails in the place.
  • Its structures are solid so that they have a good reinforcement and do not fall.
  • They have designs that are easy for the public to understand.
  • They provide adequate visual aesthetics .
  • They are usually large in size , for example the stained glass windows used in churches, however many people today learn the technique of making small designs for decoration and hobby purposes .
  • They also fulfill an educational and symbolic function .
  • They are properly organized to give more importance to some of the elements found in them.


The origin of the stained glass dates back to Egypt and  Mesopotamia . It is believed that around 3000 BC the technique began to be used since different objects dating from that time have been found. At that time, stained glass was considered a luxury and not so much as a decoration object. Experts say that when Christians were allowed to practice their religion more openly, the stained glass began to be used as a decorative object, mainly in local churches.


During the 9th and 10th centuries , churches began to be built more frequently and at the same time stained glass was used as a means of decoration. The Byzantine art had a special influence on the windows of that time and the images were made using red, blue and white.

In the 13th century , the stained glass window completely joins the architecture; The Gothic style that prevailed at this time caused its use to increase considerably and this made the stained glass window itself develop significantly. It was used to capture the biblical narrative , decorative borders began to be used, and naturalism was also present in the designs.

As early as the 14th century , the silver yellow color began to be introduced until the golden hue was achieved . It was at this time that the stained glass window experienced its greatest variety in terms of design, style, feeling and color. During the 15th century , when the different enamels began to be introduced , considered the most important technique in all of their history , artists began to produce works for the wealthiest and each of them had their own technique and style.

In the 19th century, thanks to romanticism, the stained glass took on even more strength, and the styles began to become based on the neoclassical architecture of the moment. With the technology of the 20th century, many possibilities were opened for this technique and for artists worldwide, techniques that gave way to important inventions regarding its manufacture.

Stained glass types

There are several types of stained glass that are detailed below.

Romanesque stained glass

This type of stained glass has a wide range of colors, with bright tones following the laws of surface lace. Its motifs are geometric and based on the stories that the Bible tells .

Gothic stained glass

Gothic stained glass is characterized by using backgrounds without color or in gray scales , it focuses on showing themes of humanity and some of them usually include the color gold in their pieces.

Stained glass windows with copper tape

This technique is known by the name of Tiffany and to perform it, a copper tape is used to join each piece of glass and thus form the stained glass. The technique was invented by Louis Comfort Tiffany .

Contemporary stained glass

This is the type of stained glass that we most commonly see today. The glass is painted by artisans who use a number of different special paints to color the glass.

Stained glass with silicone

The process for making this type of stained glass is the same as any other, but substitutes lead for a sheet of glass and silicone . After cutting the pattern to be made and placed in position, silicone is applied to the glass using a spatula and the glass pieces are placed, which must be allowed to dry for at least 48 hours.

Cement stained glass

Cement is used instead of lead and is used to cover windows or for outdoor decoration .

How do you create one

The steps to create a stained glass window are explained one by one as follows:

  • Stained glass design : this step is of vital importance and is generally carried out in a workshop, depending on the size, and then they are taken to the place where the stained glass will be placed. It is important to analyze the space to take the right measurements as well as to study the amount of light that needs to pass.
  • Glass cutting : years ago an iron punch was used which was heated to the maximum to be able to make the cuts. Currently, there are tools that can be used for this purpose.
  • Paint on glass: for them grisaille is used , a paint made with a series of mineral pigments, metallic oxide and glass. When applied in the design, it must be heated to ensure color fixation. In this phase the contours are also delineated.
  • Leaded : Lead is the ideal material due to its ductility and malleability .


The techniques for making a stained glass window are based on the aspects mentioned below.

  • Preparation of the design , which must be approved by the person who wants the place after analyzing the place where it will be placed.
  • The cut , which will be performed under the guidance of the previously established pattern and using a diamond point cutter.
  • Paint , for which silver nitrate is used to the surface of the glass to later apply the tones. This painting must be placed with brushes or brushes to obtain different types of effects.
  • The burning is another important technical and do in gas furnaces or electric.
  • The glazing is the latest technique and remains intact since medieval times. It consists of joining the different pieces of glass with lead strips.


The main function of stained glass is to promote art through glass, to create eye-catching decorative spaces in the places where it is installed. Another of its important functions is to be able to represent different motifs, mainly religious ones , through its designs, as well as to provide modern decoration in houses and companies.

Stained glass paints

To color the stained glass, special paints are needed. The copper oxide one can give red, green and blue. The calcium fluoride provides a white color , but not glossy. The violet tone is obtained from magnesium dioxide and the cobalt oxide gives a blue tone.

You can also count on shades of red and purple, yellow and green thanks to iron oxide 2 and 3. The wide range of colors makes the stained glass windows have a greater visual attraction for those who observe them.


The importance of this type of art is based on the ability to express architecture artistically . In addition, they are responsible for representing different biblical elements in churches, which helps to increase the spirituality of prayer centers.


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