Traditional and modern leaded lights
The term stained glass can refer to coloured glass as a material or to works produced from it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant buildings. Although traditionally made in flat panels and used as windows, the creations of modern stained glass artists also include three-dimensional structures and sculpture.
Modern vernacular usage has often extended the term "stained glass" to include domestic leadlight and objets d'art created from lead came and copper foil glasswork exemplified in the famous lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany.
As a material stained glass is glass that has been coloured by adding metallic salts during its manufacture. The coloured glass is crafted into stained glass windows in which small pieces of glass are arranged to form patterns or pictures, held together (traditionally) by strips of lead and supported by a rigid frame. Painted details and yellow stain are often used to enhance the design. The term stained glass is also applied to windows in which the colours have been painted onto the glass and then fused to the glass in a kiln.
Stained glass, as an art and a craft, requires the artistic skill to conceive an appropriate and workable design, and the engineering skills to assemble the piece. A window must fit snugly into the space for which it is made, must resist wind and rain, and also, especially in the larger windows, must support its own weight. Many large windows have withstood the test of time and remained substantially intact since the late Middle Ages. In Western Europe they constitute the major form of pictorial art to have survived. In this context, the purpose of a stained glass window is not to allow those within a building to see the world outside or even primarily to admit light but rather to control it. For this reason stained glass windows have been described as 'illuminated wall decorations'.
Traditionally, leadlight windows differ from stained glass windows principally in being less complex in design, using simpler techniques and being far less expensive. While stained glass windows are found principally in churches and ornate buildings, leadlight windows are common, and from the 1860s to the 1930s were a regular architectural feature in many private houses and cottages, where their style is often a clue to the age of the building.
Unlike stained glass windows which are traditionally pictorial or of elaborate design, traditional leadlight windows are generally non-pictorial, containing geometric designs and formalised plant motifs. Leadlight windows almost always employ the use of quarries, pieces of glass cut into regular geometric shapes, sometimes square, rectangular or circular but most frequently diamond shaped, creating a "diaper" pattern. A further difference between traditional stained glass and leadlight is that the former almost always has painted pictorial details over much of the glass, requiring separate firing after painting by the artist. In traditional leadlight this is not the case, painted quarries being separately produced and leaded in with those of plain glass, in the form of armorial crests and occasionally small scenes painted in grisaille (grey). Quarries painted in grisaille were employed both in the Medieval period and the 19th century, the most famous ancient windows to have been decorated in this manner being in York Minster and having inspired many 19th century imitations painted with little birds.
Quarries may be mould-cast into patterns such as fleur de lys and imprinted with black and yellow stain. Used extensively during the 19th century in England and Commonwealth countries, these quarries are often the product of a single studio, James Powell and Sons of Whitefriars. Another form of decorative quarry is the etched or engraved quarry, which is made of flashed glass, most often ruby red or royal blue over a transparent layer and then has a design cut into it using either acid or a lathe, the character of the resultant design differing accordingly. Etched quarries of Venetian glass are often employed, sometimes in conjunction with panels of stained glass, particularly in Italy and Eastern Europe. Lathe-cut quarries with a simple star-burst pattern are very common in late 19th century domestic architecture of many regions, both in leadlighting and in simpler wooden-framed glazing.
The colours employed in leadlight windows may range from delicate pastels to intense hues. The glass used may be textured or patterned or bevelled. However, since they are generally non-pictorial, and are primarily to illuminate the interior, with or without a decorative function, the glass is usually of pale hue, or transparent.
The techniques of making our stained glass or leadlights remain the same with the change in regulations and replacement window frames our windows can be placed within a double glazed unit, creating a triple glazed unit, we have created a large number of windows that have been restored from 1930s bay windows to new builds or replacing clear units with our unique designs.