My interest in stained glass art stems from only two introductory courses I took evenings over 20 years ago. I learned stained glass-making, both by using the easy copper foil technique for small pieces and also the traditional, more difficult use of soldering lead channels and grouting those channels to hold heavy, larger pieces of glass.
The lead channel design method is just much more brutish and difficult in artistic execution. It is the classic design method that is found in centuries-old architecture for building structural stained glass art work. Just cutting glass pieces without breaking glass and wasting coloured glass, is a
goal for any amateur. Then it was also wearing a safety mask to reduce inhalation of lead dust when pressing the grout into the channels to fuse the glass against the lead support channels. Use of lead channels and grout allows an artist to create huge stained glass art pieces, several metres in size. If you see ugly, metal bars that seem to cut across some stained glass pieces, they are support bars, critical for structural stability of large stained glass pieces to prevent heavy, welded glass pieces from buckling. Over the years, my appreciation for stained glass art has grown, for both traditional centuries-old and contemporary art pieces.
That is the extent of my knowledge on stained glass art –paltry, humble and easily awed by great, long lasting pieces of art. I just want to share glimpses of this art I saw in various cathedrals and other buildings during my European trip in Freiburg (Germany), Strasbourg (France), Prague (Czech Republic), Copenhagen (Denmark) and Malmo (Sweden). The pieces originate from medieval, renaissance, art nouveau and contemporary eras.
Sometimes within a cathedral, there may be different suites of stained glass art pieces which have been designed by various master artists. Cathedrale de Notre Dame
Strasbourg, France was built between 1015 to 1439 with the completion of its spire. However with additional sections added thereafter, it reflects architectural styles from Romanesque to Gothic. Freiburg Cathedral was built over a long period, with bouts of rebuilding, from early 1200s to the 16th century. St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague was constructed from 926 to 1929 –with construction completion on the millenium of St. Wenceslas!
Included with this sampler portfolio, are other liturgical artwork which the stained glass works provides a luminous backdrop of refracted light and contemplation.
Cathedrale de Notre Dame Strasbourg, France. Official site.
Freiburg im Breisgau. Munster: Building History.