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When we receive an inquiry for a new window the first thing we need to know is the size, intended location and purpose. Inspiration for a new window might come from a simple idea or theme. Windows for a church or chapel may illustrate a whole bible story or just a few words, defining a sacred space with light and colour, inviting contemplation and prayer. We like to provide an initial estimate guide price, and if this is within the clients budget the design process can begin.


If the commission is for a window in a church, permission of some kind will be necessary from the ecclesiastical authorities. In our experience it is good practice to get them involved/ informed at the earliest stage.

A scale watercolour design is produced in which the colour pallet and composition are developed.

Approval of the design is followed by the production of the full size cartoon of the window. The completed cartoon is the foundation for the subsequent processes of glass cutting, etching and painting and the lead matrix that will hold the glass pieces together.

st pauls stained glass window commission design drawing cartoon for life of st paul stained glass window commission Drawing the Cartoon life of saint paul stained glass window cartoon Full Size Cartoon st paul imprisoned drawing

The next phase involves selecting the sheets of hand-made glass to be used and cutting the necessary glass shapes from templates. In the case of this window there are around 600 pieces of glass. A great deal of accuracy is needed during the cutting of the glass, each piece must match the template exactly. Much care and skill is required in selecting the perfect colour for each piece from the hundreds of colours available.

Glass Selection And Cutting glass cutting stained glass and tools selecting coloured stained glass for window commission

Above: using a glass cutter to score the glass before shaping with pliers.

When all the glass has been cut the painting, shading and etching processes begin. Acid etching is done by protecting certain parts of the glass with a resist. The unprotected areas are then exposed to acid.

Etching

The technique of acid etching produces gradient colour on flashed glass, which is a sheet of glass made of a thick layer of clear glass and a thinner surface layer of colour. By etching through the coloured side with skill and care it is possible to produce a range of shades  on the same piece of glass.

Pictured right is a Centurions cloak from the centre panel after etching but before painting and silver staining.

Acid Etching Chamber acid etching glass Painting And Staining glass painter

The painting of the glass with metallic oxides is painstakingly carried out by hand. Each piece is then fired in the kiln (pictured right). This permanently bonds the paint to the glass. Some pieces will require this process to be repeated several times. When all the painting and etching processes have been completed the window is reviewed on a glass easel prior to leading up.

stained glass kiln leading stained glass window leading stained glass window Leading Up

Leading up involves cutting to size and bending lead came around each piece of glass. Much care must be taken to ensure that each piece is in precisely the correct position so everything lines up as it should do. The flow of the original design is carried thorough to the lead lines. This window uses a range of different lead widths, from 5 mm wide to 12 mm wide. The different widths are used to emphasise certain dynamics of the composition, fulfilling both an artistic and structural function. As this window comprises three panels continuing lines must correspond between panels.

soldering lead of stained glass window leaded window soldering

When a window has been leaded up every join between the lead lines must be soldered on both sides.

Soldering and Cementing

After the soldering process lead light cement is forced into every gap between the lead and glass on both sides. Whiting is then brushed over the panel and any excess removed with a sharpened wooden tool. This process makes the window waterproof and ready to face the elements, it also improves its strength and rigidity.

waterproofing leaded window with leaded light cement waterproofing leaded window with leaded light cement Cleaning And Polishing

After the window has been made waterproof and the sealant has had time to partly set but not completely harden, the windows are thoroughly cleaned.  All remaining excess traces of sealant are removed and the windows are carefully polished.

cleaning and polishing leaded stained glass Protection and fitting

Before fitting, metal strengthening bars are attached to the window. These help to prevent damage from any flexing of the window in high winds and also prevent any bowing of the window over time. In this case the bars are bent into a shape which maintains strength but is subtlety integrated into the window design.

Copper wires soldered on to the window are neatly wound around the bar to hold it in place.

copper tie fixing to window Completed Window

This window has been fitted into a custom made wooden frame and we have fitted clear UV stabilised poly carbonate protection to the outside.


St Pauls Catholic Church stained glass commission life of St Paul Life of St Paul stained glass commission St Pauls Catholic Church Journey of St Paul stained glass window commission detail of Malta St Paul imprisoned St Pauls Catholic Church stained glass window commission

Ecclesiastical

COMMISSIONING A STAINED GLASS WINDOW

Creating art to inspire and express spirituality has long been synonymous with stained glass. We use design to capture and frame moods, ideas and feelings which can help uplift and define a space of worship.  

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Schools

Much of the work we have created for schools is refreshingly fun and light hearted. It often involves children's ideas and drawings and allows us to create designs filled with bright colour and vibrancy. To closely represent the children’s own artwork owe have used glass painting, enamelling and fused glass.

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Residential and Corporate

Modern geometric or classic period style: A window in memory of a loved one or favourite landscape to decorative panels to enhance the working environment or provide corporate identity - anything is achievable and we have the expertise to produce bespoke design for residential or corporate settings which compliment architecture perfectly.

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The stained glass commission process:

The making of the new window for St Paul’s Church - To illustrate the whole process from design to dedication this article will follow the creation of a window created to tell the story of St Paul - a window for a Roman Catholic church in Paulsgrove, where once a small grove was reputedly a stopping place for St Paul during his many years of travel to spread the word of Christ. This window measures approximately 1 metre by 3 metres.


Stained glass design:

Before design work could really commence on this new window commission a good deal of research was necessary. In this case that involved finding out the details of St. Paul’s life, the events which shaped him and the many journeys he made. The design across three wide panels grew from discussions with the parish priest to choose the key points in St Paul’s life to illustrate and also requests from parishioners to include local references of the legend of his visit to Paulsgrove. The design used the idea of creating a linking graphic image to unite all three panels with the places where St Paul visited and taught or wrote, linked by land at the top of the windows, and by sea at the bottom.

Preparatory sketches YouTube Video of St John’s Leatherhead ‘Eagle of Saint John’  Window being fitted in 37 panels - click here
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PDF Commission Summary - click here