It’s Not Your Grandmother’s Stained Glass Anymore

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When you think, “stained glass”, do your thoughts naturally drift to old, Victorian homes adorned with antique art, large windows and mosaics? Or how about impressive Roman Cathedrals embellished with stained glass windows that reflect Biblical narrative? You may even consider “do it yourself” glass projects you buy at the local hardware store. While all of these are legitimate, stained glass is moving outside the box.

It’s not your grandmother’s stained glass anymore.

Not only has technology changed the glassmaking process, culture and style have influenced glass artists all over the world to create unique and unconventional works of art. From ancient Mesopotamia to modern-day workshops and factories, technology and bold creativity have moved the glassmaking process forward in efficiency and originality.

History of Glass

According to the Corning Museum of Glass, glass can be dated back to 2000 B.C. Individuals living in ancient Mesopotamia created small objects like jars and bowls by shaping liquid hot glass with simple tools they fashioned by hand.

Hundreds of years later glass blowing emerged as a popular technique during the Roman Empire, and since it was an efficient way to create glasswork, it became more affordable and started to expand throughout the region. Italian, specifically Venetian, glasswork grew in popularity during the Renaissance. Their work began to spread throughout Europe and added traction to the growing popularity of glass.

During one of the most influential time periods of consumerism and technology, the demand for glass products increased dramatically. Industrialization influenced business, and glass factories began to take root and produce products on a larger scale. According to the History of Glass, the first American glass factory originated in Jamestown, VA in 1608.

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Modern Day

Charles Edward Henry and Louis Tiffany were both extremely influential in the glass movement in the late 19th century. Henry opened one of the first glass plants in America that manufactured Opalescent glass, a popular type of glass still used today. Tiffany was one of the most popular glass artists of his time who used this specific type of glass for many of his pieces. These men discovered new possibilities in glassmaking, and transformed the way we see modern-day glasswork.

After Henry and Tiffany made headway in modern glassmaking, other artists continued pushing the boundaries of traditional stained glass and introduced the world to more expressive and abstract styles that evoked a different kind of emotion than their predecessors.

Artist Jad King appreciates glass as a medium that is constantly changing and shifting. His pieces reflect the idea that there is no singular “mold” or “style” they fall into, but they should all operate individually within their own design. He uses copper foiling as his primary technique, which allows his pieces to be more detailed and intricate.

King didn’t like the amount of paint used on the window panel to the right, so he repainted it depicting a hand wiping away the excess paint in order to make a statement. These unconventional elements to his work pushed the boundaries of traditional stained glass.

Jad King, 1975 - New Glass

Jad King – 1975, “New Glass”

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Richard Posner, The Meyer Library Window, 1976. “New Glass”

Richard Posner believed glass is a medium that can tell stories. Much of his work has dynamic and detailed stories weaved within the pieces of glass. In “New Glass” by Otto B. Rigan, Posner described his stained glass as “picture windows” – or images that reflect his personal interpretation of the world around him. The intricate details and fine lines he used in his work were incredibly impressive to the modern glass movement. He also used stained glass to express pain he’s felt in his life – from physical back pain, to the pain of divorce.

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From small jars made by handcrafted tools, to factories producing glasswork on a large scale and artists adding their own twist to an age-old medium, glass has been swept up in the tide of technology and creativity. Efficiency made by these advancements, mixed with the artistic eye and hand, makes glasswork an art medium that creates unique and unforgettable pieces for every home, business and church.

Stanton Studios believes in the artistic expression of glass, especially when combined with other mediums like metal and wood. That’s why we do all three. We don’t just make the stained glass window for your front door – we make the door itself. We don’t just restore your antique glass; we restore your wood window frames and sashes as well. We are artists who wish to see art appreciated in multiple forms, on a holistic scale.

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Interested in working with us on your next project? Email info@stantonglass.com to connect with us.

Victorian Rm Const

Information for this blog post was provided by The Corning Museum of Glass: www.timeline.cmog.org, www.historyofglass.com, http://www.kog.com/history.html, and “New Glass” by Otto B. Rigan.

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