Is stained glass a dying art form? | WindowArt

The term ‘stained glass’ is something architectural professionals daren’t mention these days. Over the years stained glass windows and church architecture have always worked side-by-side, but parishioners’ architectural preferences have changed drastically and it seems stained glass is going out the window. According to The Wall Street Journal, “some artisans are even steering clear of using the term ‘stained glass’ because it carries connotations of fusty old churches.” These days’ architects designing churches will have to look at other means of decorating windows in order to keep churchgoers happy.

A brief history

Before specialised cutting wheels were invented, stained glass art forms would take years to achieve. The cloister stained glass windows of the Notre Dame Cathedral, for instance, were built between 1845-1850. References of stained glass can be traced back as far as the 7th century. By the 12th century it become an art form, not much different to the way it is used today. According to the Stained Glass Museum, “a stained-glass window consists of pieces of coloured glass held together in a latticed web of lead.” Around the year 1300, craftsman discovered “the ability to turn white glass yellow or blue glass green,” which became useful in highlighting hair, halos and crowns of angels or saints.

Stained glass served a practical use in church history, as the images depicted on the glass told stories to people who couldn’t read. But nowadays people no longer need stained glass imagery with technology like screen projectors being used to deliver sermons.

Iconic stained glass pieces

Philip Johnson, the architect behind the famous glass house also designed the Glory Window in the Thanks-Giving Square. It’s made up of a spiral of stained glass windows that twirl to a single point. The display is made up of 73 different panels of stained glass, that were put together by French artist, Gabriel Loire.

The Mapparium, in Boston Massachusetts, is a three storey luminous stained glass globe depicting the world map as it was drafted in 1934, serving as a snapshot of history. The globe is made up of 608 stained glass windows with the purpose of depicting the world accurately in relationship to each country. When you look at the globe from the inside, each country is seen at the same distance, giving visitors a unique perspective on the world.

Stained glass works of art are incredibly beautiful. However, according to the Tampa Bay Times, they are becoming too expensive for churches. This is due to a mass crackdown on manufacturing regulations in America. Americans are concerned over the level of cadmium that factories in Portland are producing that could potentially cause lung cancer. On top of this, According to Cumberland Stained Glass, “businesses aren’t open to the idea of stained glass being considered an art anymore.”

Bypass outdated stained glass window design and embrace a different approach

Churches have always used stained glass because it offered the best solution to blocking out distractions and ensured parishioners aren’t blinded by the sun during a sermon. Window frosting achieves all of this, at a fraction of the cost, and is a more environmentally-friendly option. Did you know that when stained glass windows are built large amounts of metal can be wasted on a single panel?

The application of window frosting is not limited to large windows, but can be installed inside the church as well. Priests or pastors can use window frosting if they want to keep a room separate from parishioners. Think of other possibilities, window frosting could be used in the confession room or cry room. Download our window frosting guide for more information.

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