How Stained Glass Windows Are Made


Before paper became widely available around 1400, stained-glass makers or glaziers would draw scaled-up drawings sized to fit window openings on wooden trestle tables coated with chalk or whitewash – an ancient form of artistic creation! Read the Best info about vacuum glazing cost.

Cut pieces of glass according to their sketches using tools like grozing irons (see photo), designed for shaping rough shapes.


Stained glass windows are created from various colored and textured glasses. Once the designer had chosen their design, each piece of glass was cut to size before being assembled with narrow strips of lead known as cames. Craftspeople then filled any spaces between each piece of glass, and each came with putty to ensure the waterproof sealing of these works of art.

Once stained glass pieces were in shape, they were painted using vitreous paint, similar to oil painting but explicitly designed to adhere to glass surfaces. Painters employed a dense ink-like consistency for primary trace lines while using thinner wash applications for shading and modeling purposes. The paint was applied with a brush made of different animal hair.

As time progressed, stained glass makers and architects adopted Gothic revival styles, featuring flat decorative patterns with lead lines that separated colors. Pugin’s studios quickly became centers for this work before other studios and artisans joined him.

At the turn of the 19th century, due to restoration projects and renewed interest in medieval art, stained glass production exploded significantly. Artists such as Burne-Jones and Ford Madox Brown made stained glass for churches; William Morris established a workshop employing over 12 workers for decorating work as well.

Before the middle of the 20th century, stained glass was primarily restricted to church windows. Commercial buildings also provided new windows made from stained glass that glorified machines that helped drive global economic activity – for instance, a newspaper office featuring stained glass depictions of trains and automobiles is a typical example of this trend.

Johann Thorn-Prikker (1868-1932), a German artist known for his subject-based, symbolic, and non-objective styles of work, was an essential precursor of Art Deco and restrained expressionist manner who experimented with fabric design, murals, and mosaics as well as his stained glass art form.

Before the 20th century, most stained glass was imported from Europe and Asia for production in studios worldwide. Since then, European and American studios have produced high-quality glassware; one such studio is Franz Mayer Studios in Munich, which was founded in 1860; they were best known for producing heroic-sized figurative windows as well as restoring medieval glass and creating new ones worldwide.


Once a design for a window has been selected, glass makers select and cut pieces of glass accordingly. A glazier or glass maker then uses heated iron called grozing irons to shape each piece before chipping it down to its final form and sanding down the rough edges of each article for painting purposes.

Glass painting is an intricate and highly skilled task. Vitreous paint used on stained glass consisted of ground glass, iron or copper oxide, gum arabic, and binder that could be diluted to achieve different textures and consistencies for shadings and modeling techniques. Brushes made from animal hair were typically employed to apply this thick ink-like consistency along primary trace lines before adding colors with thinner washes of color washes.

In the 14th century, an innovative solution of silver nitrate allowed painters to achieve very vibrant colors on glass surfaces – opening up many possibilities for decorative and figurative works that could be applied directly onto panels.

Once paper became more readily available, artisans started drawing cartoons on sheets of paper, which could easily be transported between jobs. This resulted in studios opening near cathedrals as their primary client; successful companies like Pugin & William Gibson established significant businesses.

The Victorian period saw the emergence of several revolutionary styles and ideas in stained glass art. One such idea was Nazarene art, characterized by flat colors and bold outlines, which attracted artists working on windows. Joseph Mehoffer won a competition to design windows for the Fribourg cathedral around this time, and his winning windows signaled a new renaissance of decorative stained glass. Maurice Denis wrote, “Here is a style of painting which makes us reconsider everything we thought we knew about stained glass.” Mehoffer and fellow Swiss painters also inspired Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s works in Glasgow.


Stained glass windows are composed of different metals in addition to glass. Copper foil and lead were traditionally the go-to metals for creating stained glass pieces in the 1800s, but artists experimented with various other materials – with crushed and powdered glass mixed with tin oxide and ground copper as one famous example – producing different color effects when light passed through to varying angles through crushed and powdered glass, creating different hues as light passed through it at various angles – producing what is known as an “opalescent effect.” Light passes through glass at different angles, creating different hues and effects as sunlight refracts off different bends, creating various shades from different angles, creating other products as light passes through. This makes what is known as an “opalescent effect,” where light passes through as light passes through, creating different hues as light changes colors as light passes through different angles, creating other effects as light passes through different colors as it passes through its various angles producing different hues as it passes through it creating other products as it passes through it’s made up. This glass window requires heating at a very high temperature to fuse wholly fusing. For this effect to work effectively creating different color effects while light passes through different angles creating different shades as it passes through its layers of glass layers creating the opalescent effect created by light passing through at various angles to produce other results in its passing through which allows light creating different angles creating different hues from its passage creating different colors as it passes through creating different angles creating different shades when passing through creating different angles, which creates different angles of passing through each time creating other effects as light passing through each window creating light passing through and different angles creating light from outside to make this process requires heat temperatures that require melting temperatures so the crushed glass must also heated up to achieve perfection for maximum results in its creation; creating various angles creating various color and creating effects as it passes through multiple angles creating different angles from its glass surface, giving off light passing through grades affecting its passage from inside and products while passing through which passing through creating unique products while passing through from light passing through, passing through each window and making changes within it make different colored lighting passing through glass creating other colored products at angles passing through which create other products as it passs varying angles passing through other products that make unique colours as it passes through this particular type.

Metals also help hold together individual pieces of glass to form the finished window and provide structural support. Historically, works were held together with narrow strips of lead known as “lead came.” Stained glass makers would fit each piece of colored glass into H-shaped sections of these cames before soldering their joints with an alloy of lead and tin called solder to prevent rattles while keeping the window weatherproof. After soldering, stained glass makers applied putty-like cement made from linseed oil, whiting, and lamp black to seal joints around joints for seal up.

For more complex pieces of glass art, such as faces, guidelines are painted onto the back of the panel before layers of thin vitreous paint are spread onto its front with a brush. Thin washes are then added over guidelines to add depth. Finally, this panel is put into a kiln to allow all its pigments to fuse with its glass surface.

Stained glass art is one of the oldest and most timeless forms of expression, still employing many of the same skills today as centuries ago. Stained glass takes patience and perseverance as well as an appreciation of color and line design to craft stunning stained glass creations; no wonder its popularity endures for generations.

Other Materials

Stained glass windows possess an inimitable quality. Their creation requires artistic and engineering talents – they must fit snugly into a window opening while remaining wind and rainproof, as well as supporting their weight without cracking under repeated use.

Making stained glass windows is an arduous and time-consuming task involving various materials, including paints and glass, that must be selected carefully to produce the desired effects. Crafting one large window may take many thousand hours of labor.

Historical accounts suggest that stained glass was traditionally created manually by small teams of artists and craftsmen working together. The first step in the process was creating a full-size drawing of the finished window, known as a cartoon; this would then be drawn in scale using whitewash or chalk on a table coated in whitewash for painting lines onto it. A glazier would then use this cartoon as a template for cutting and shaping colored pieces of glass using special tools known as grozing irons, which featured slots to slip and chip pieces into rough shapes.

Once all the pieces were cut, a glazier would paint them using vitreous paints, fired in a kiln to fuse powdered glass particles to fuse permanently with the glass surface. Windows were assembled into panels by soldering lead that came around their edges before gluing these down using semi-liquid cement.

Modern stained glass windows are often made by machines, using highly sophisticated computer numerical control machines capable of engraving intricate patterns onto clear glass according to digitally created templates. Yet many people still consider stained glass art an authentic handcrafted craft.

Read Also: Why Choose an Insulated Window?