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9 October 2018

Stained Glass | How It’s Made


Stained Glass
Glass that is coloured through the addition of metallic salts during production. This term is commonly used (as we will in this blog) to describe windows created using lead came to piece stained glass together into ornate designs.

Lead Light (Leadlight, Leaded Lights, Leaded Windows)
A window created through the use of came to piece together small sections of glass into one larger panel. These are less ornate than stained glass and traditionally used in commercial or residential properties.

A divider bar used between glass to piece together multiple small panels and create one larger window. There are two types of came, H-shaped came joins two pieces of glass together. U-shaped came is used to create the outside borders. Came can be made from lead, zinc, brass, or copper.

A drawing of created by a stained glass artist depicting the full-scale design of a stained glass window. This is used as a template during production.

Poor Man’s Bible
Works of art within churches and cathedrals that were created to illustrate the teachings of the Bible to illiterate populations. These were either individual pieces or part of a collection that formed a narrative. Examples of poor mans bibles include carvings, painting, stained glass windows, and mosaics.


Stained glass (colouring glass) dates back to ancient times and this process was mastered by both the Romans and Egyptians.  The Lycergus Cup and The Portland Vase are two fine examples of Roman craftsmanship with stained glass.

During the 4th and 5th centuries, early christian churches set thinly sliced alabaster within wooden frames to create designs resembling stained glass windows.

In 674 AD, the Founder of Wearmouth-Jarrow Priory, Benedict Biscop commissioned the creation of the first stained glass window in England at St Peter’s Church, Monkwearmouth by craftsmen from Gaul.

Stained glass reached its height in the Middle-Ages and became the vogue in religion buildings with its pictorial messages acting as a poor mans bible.  In the early 12th Century, a German monk using the name Theophilus (possibly Roger Of Helmarshausen) wrote De diversis artibus – an account of the techniques used various crafts, including stained glass.

Below is a short video recreating this Medieval technique for creating stained glass windows:

     Making a  stained glass panel from Victoria and Albert Museum on Vimeo.

Modern Production

The basic production technique of stained glass windows had changed little since the Twelfth Century – only modern tools such as computer aided design (CAD Drawings) and soldering irons have made the process more efficient.

In the video below, Daedalian Glass Studios Founder, Davia Walmsley is delivering a training session to the studio team whilst creating a stained glass panel:

Davia first cuts various hand-blown glass panels to the sizes required for making this design. She created a cartoon using CAD software and uses this as a template during the cutting process.  This ensures each piece is the correct size and shape. For this panel, the glass includes clear, textures, and coloured glass elements.

Once all the glass is the cut, the manufacturing of the panel can begin. Davia uses lead came to build the panel and again employs a cartoon as a template. She also utilizes an L-shaped frame to hold the glass in place during production.  The final stage is to soldering all the came joints together.

A selection of stained glass and leaded lights created by Daedalian Glass Studios