A Dictionary of Arts: Stained glass.

A Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures, and Mines; containing A Clear Exposition of Their Principles and Practice

by Andrew Ure, M. D.;
F. R. S. M. G. S. Lond.: M. Acad. M. S. Philad.; S. PH. DOC. N. GERM. Ranow.; Mulh. Etc. Etc.

Illustrated with nearly fifteen hundred engravings on wood
Eleventh American, From The Last London Edition.
To which is appended, a Supplement of Recent Improvements to The Present Time.

New York: D Appleton & company, 200 Broadway. Philadelphia: George S. Appleton, 148 Chestnut St.


STAINED GLASS. When certain metallic oxydes or chlorides, ground up with proper fluxes, are painted upon glass, their colours fuse into its surface at a moderate heat, and make durable pictures, which are frequently employed in ornamenting the windows of churches as well as of other public and private buildings. The colours of stained glass are all transparent, and are therefore to be viewed only by transmitted light. Many metallic pigments, which afford a fine effect when applied cold on canvass or paper, are so changed by vitreous fusion as to be quite inapplicable to painting in stained glass.

The glass proper for receiving these vitrifying pigments, should be colorless, uniform, and difficult of fusion; for which reason crown glass, made with little alkali, or with kelp, is preferred. When the design is too large to be contained on a single pane, severalare fitted together, and fixed in a bed of soft cement while painting, and then taken asunder to be separately subjected to the fire. In arranging the glass pieces, care must be taken to distribute the joinings so that the lead frame-work may interfere as little as possible with the effect.

A design must be drawn upon paper, and placed beneath the plate of glass; though the artist cannot regulate his tints directly by his palette, but by specimens of the colours producible from his palette pigments after they are fired. The upper side of the glass being sponged over with gum-water, affords, when dry, a surface proper for receiving the the colours, without the risk of their running irregularly, as they would be apt to do, on the slippery glass. The artist first draws on the plate, with a fine pencil, all the traces which mark the great outlines and shades of the figures. This is usually done in black, or, at least, some strong color, such as brown, blue, green, or red. In laying on these, the painter is guided by the same principles as engraver, when he produces the effect of light and shade by dots, lines, or hatches; and he employes that colour to produce the shades, which will harmonize tbest with the colour which is to be afterwards applied; but for the deeper shades, black is in general used. When this is finished, the whole picture will be represented in lines or hatches similar to an engraving finished up to the highest effect possible; and afterwards, when it is dry, the vitrifying colours are laid on by means if larger hair pencils; their selection being regulated by the burnt specimen tints. When he finds it necessary to lay two colours adjoining, which are apt to run together in the kiln, he must apply one of them to the back of the glass. But the few principal colours to be presently mentioned, are all fast colours, which do not run, except the yellow, which must therefore be laid on the opposite side. After coloring, the artist proceeds to bring out the lighter effects by taking off the colour in the proper place, with a goose quill cut like a pen without a slit. By working this upon the glass, he removes the colour from the parts where the lights should be the strongest; such as the hair, eyes, the reflection of bright surfaces and light parts of draperies. The blank pen may be employed either to make the lights by lines, or hatches and dots, as is most suitable to the subject.

By the metallic preparations now laid upon it, the glass is made ready for being fired, in order to fix and bring out the proper colours. The furnace or kiln best adapted for this purpose, is similar to that used by enamellers. See ENAMEL, and the Glaze-kiln, under POTTERY. It consists of a muffle or arch of fire-clay, or pottery, so set over a fireplace, and so surrounded by flues, as to receive a very considerable heat within, in the most equable and regular manner; otherwise some parts of the glass will be melted; while, on others, the superficial film of colours will remain unvitrified. The mouth of the muffle, and the entry for introducing fuel to the fire, should be on opposite sides, to prevent as much as possible the admission of dust into the muffle, whose mouth should be closed with double folding-doors of iron, furnished with small peep-holes, to allow the artist to watch the progress of the staining, and to withdraw small trial slips of glass, painted with the principal tints used in the picture.

The muffle must be made of very refractory fire-clay, flat at its bottom, and only 5 or 6 inches high, with such an arched top as may make the roof strong, and so close on all sides as to exclude entirely the smoke and flame. On the bottom of the muffle a smooth bed of sifted lime, freed from water, about half an inch thick, must be prepared for receiving the pane of glass. Sometimes several plates of glass are laid over each other with a layer of dry pulverulent lime between each. The fire is now lighted, and most gradually raised, lest the glass should be broken; and after it has attained to its full heat, it must be kept up for 3 or 4 hours, more or less, according to the indications of the trial slips; the yellow colour being principally watched, as it is found to be the best criterion of the state of the others. When the colours are properly burnt in, the fire is suffered to die away, so as to anneal the glass.


Flesh color. - Take an ounce of red lead, 2 ounces of red enamel, (Venetian glass enamel, from alum and copperas calcined together,) grind them to fine powder, and work this up with spirits (alcohol) upon a hard stone. When slightly baked, this produces a fine flesh color.

Black color. - Take 14½ ounces of smithy scales of iron, mix them with two ounces of white glass, (crystal,) an ounce of antimony, and half an ounce of manganese; pound and grind these ingredients together with strong vinegar. A brilliant black may also be obtained by a mixture of cobalt blue with the oxydes of manganese and iron. Another black is made from three parts of crystal glass, two parts of oxide of copper, and one of (glass of) antimony worked up together, as above.

Brown color. - An ounce of white glass or enamel, half an ounce of good manganese; ground together.

Red, rose, and brown colours, are made from peroxyde of iron, prepared by nitric acid. The flux consists of borax, sand, and minium in small quantity.

Red color, may be likewise obtained from one ounce of red chalk pounded, mixed with two ounces of white hard enamel, and a little peroxyde of copper.

A red, may also be composed of rust of iron, glass of antimony, yellow glass of lead, such as is used by potters, (or litharge,) each in equal quantity; to which a little sulphuret of silver is added. This composition, well ground, produces a very fine red colour on glass. When protoxide of copper is used to stain glass, it assumes a bright red or green color, according as the glass is more or less heated in the furnace, the former corresponding to the orange protoxide, the latter having the copper in the state of peroxyde.

Bistres and brown reds, may be obtained by mixtures of manganese, orange oxide of copper, and the oxide of iron called umber, in different proportions. They must be previously fused with vitreous solvents.

Green color. - Two ounce of brass calcined into an oxyde, two ounces of minium, and eight ounces of white sand; reduce them to a fine powder, which is to be enclosed in a well luted crucible, and heated strongly in an air-furnace for an hour. When the mixture is cold, grind it in a brass mortar. Green may, however, be advantageously produced by a yellow on one side, and a blue on the other. oxide of chrome has been also employed to stain glass green.

A fine yellow color. - Take fine silver laminated thin, dissolve in nitric acid, dilute with abundance of water, and precipitate with solution of sea salt. Mix this chloride of silver, in a dry powder, with three times its weight of pipe-clay well burnt and pounded. The back of the glass pane is to be painted with this powder; for when painted on the face, it is apt to run into the other colours.

Another yellow can be made by mixing sulphuret of silver with glass of antimony, and yellow ochre previously calcined to a red-brown tint. Work all these powders together, and paint on the back of the glass. Or silver lamina melted with sulphur, and glass of antimony, thrown into cold water, and afterwards ground to powder, afford a yellow.

A pale yellow may be made with the powder resulting from brass, sulphur, and glass of antimony, calcined together in a crucible till they cease to smoke; and then mixed with a little burnt yellow ochre.

The fine yellow of M. Merand is prepared from chloride of silver, oxide of zinc, white-clay, and rust of iron. This mixture, simply ground, is applied on the glass.

Orange color. - Take 1 part of silver powder, as precipitated from the nitrate of that metal by plates of copper, and washed; mix it with 1 part of red ochre and 1 of yellow, by careful trituration; grind into a thin pap with oil of turpentine or lavender, and apply this with a brush, dry, and burn in.

In the Philosophical Magazine, of December, 1836, the anonymous author of an ingenious essay, "On the Art of Glass-painting," says, that if a large proportion of ochre has been employed with the silver, the stain is yellow; if a small proportion, it is orange-colored; and by repeated exposure to the fire, without any additional coloring-matter, the orange may be converted into red; but this conversion requires a nice management of the heat. Artists often make use of panes coloured throughout their substance in the glass-house pots, because the perfect transparency of such glass gives a brilliancy of effect, which enamel painting, always more or less opaque, cannot rival. It was to a glass of this kind that the old glass-painters owed their splendid red. This is, in fact, the only point in which the modern and ancient processes differ; and this is the only part of the art which was ever really lost. Instead of blowing plates of solid red, the old glass-makers (like those of Bohemia, for some time back) used to flash a thin layer of brilliant red over a substratum of colorless glass; by gathering a lump of the latter upon the end of their iron rod in one pot, covering it with a layer of the former in another pot, then blowing out the two together into a globe or cylinder, to be opened into circular tables, or into rectangular plates. The elegant art of tinging glass red by protoxyde of copper, and flashing it on common crown glass, has become general within these few years.

That gold melted with flint glass stains it purple., war originally discovered and practised as a profitable secret, by Kunckel. Gold has been recently used at Birmingham for giving a beautiful rose-color to scent bottles. The proportion of gold should be very small, and the heat very great, to produce a good effect. The glass must contain either the oxide of lead, bismuth, zinc, or antimony; for crown glass will take no colour from gold. Glass combined with this metal, when removed from the crucible, is generally of a pale rose-color; nay, sometimes is as colorless as water, and does not assume its ruby colour till it has been exposed to a low red heat, either under a muffle or at the lamp. This operation must be nicely regulated; because a slight excess of fire destroys the colour, leaving the glass of a dingy brown, but with a blue (green ?) transparency, like that of gold leaf. It is metallic gold which gives the color; and, indeed, the oxide is too easily reduced, not to be converted into the metal by the intense heat which is necessarily required.

Upon the kindred art of painting in enamel, Mr. A. Essex has published an interesting paper in the same journal, for June, 1837, in which he says that the ancient ruby glass, on being exposed to the heat of a glass-kiln, preserves its colour unimpaired, while the modern suffers considerable injury, and in some cases becomes almost black. Hence the latter cannot be painted upon, as the heat required to fix the fresh colour would destroy the beauty of the original basis. To obviate this difficulty, the artist paints upon a piece of plain glass the tints and shadows necessary for blending the rich ruby glow with the other parts of his picture, leaving those parts untouched where he wishes the ruby to appear in undiminished brilliancy, and fixed the ruby glass in the picture behind the painted piece, so that in such parts the window is double glazed. Mr. Essex employs, as did the late Mr. Muss, chrome oxide alone for greens; and he rejects the use of iron and manganese in his enamel colours.

Coloured transparent glass is applied as enamel in silver and gold bijouterie, previously bright-cut in the metal with the graver or the rose-engine. The cuts, reflecting the rays of light from their numerous surfaces, exhibit through the glass, richly stained with gold,silver, cobalt, &c., a gorgeous play of prismatic colours, varied with every change of aspect. With the enamel is to be painted on, it should be made opalescent by oxide of arsenic, in other to produce the most agreeable effect.

The artist in enamel has obtained from modern chemistry, preparations of the metals platinum, uranium, and chromium, which furnish four of the richest and most useful colours of his palette. oxide of platinum produces a substantive rich brown, formerly unknown in enamel painting; a beautiful transparent tint, which no intensity or repetition of fire can injure. Colours proper for enamel painting, he says, are not to be purchased; those sold for the purpose, are adapted only for painting upon china. The constituents of the green enamel used by his brother, Mr. W. Essex, are, silica, borax, oxide of lead, and oxide of chrome.

Mr. Essex's enamelling furnace is a cubic space of about 12 inches, and contains a fire-clay muffle, without either bottom or back, which is surrounded with coke, except in front. The entire draught of air which supplies the furnace, passes through the muffle; the plates and paintings being placed on a thin slab, made of tempered fire-clay, technically termed planche, which rests on the bed of coke-fuel. As the greatest heat is at the back of the muffle, the picture must be turned round while in the fire, by means of a pair of spring tongs. The above furnace serves for objects up to five inches in diameter; but for larger works a different furnace is required, for the description of which I must refer to the original paper.

Relatively to the receipts for enamel colours, and for staining and gilding on glass, for which twenty guineas were voted by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, in the session of 1817, to Mr. R. Wynn, Mr. A. Essex says, in p. 446 of his essay - "the unfortunate artist who shall attempt to make colours for the purpose of painting in enamel from these receipts, will assuredly find, to his disappointment, that they are utterly useless." In page 449 he institutes a comparison between Mr.- Wynn's complex farrago for green, as published in the Transactions of the Society, with the simple receipt of his brother, as given above. It is a remarkable circumstance, that not one of our enamel artists, during a period of twenty years, should have denounced the fallacy of these receipts, and the folly of sanctioning imposture by a public reward. Should Mr. Essex's animad versions be just, the well-intentioned Society in the Adelphi may, from the negligence of its committee, come to merit the sobriquet, "For the Discouragement of Arts."

[Alla oleva osa täydennyksenä painoksesta: New-York: D. Appleton & Company, 443 & 445 Broadway, 1868. Reprinted entire from the last corrected and greatly enlarged English edition.]

The blues of vitrified colours are all obtained from the oxide of cobalt. Cobalt ore (sulphuret) being well roasted at a dull red heat, to dissipate all the sulphur and arsenic, is dissolved in somewhat dilute nitric acid, and after the addition of much water to the saturated solution, the oxide is precipitated by carbonate of soda, then washed upon a filter, and dried. The powder is to be mixed with thrice its weight of saltpetre; the mixture is to be deflagrated in a crucible, by applying a red hot cinder to it, then exposed to the heat of ignition, washed, and dried. Three parts of this oxide are to be mixed with a flux, consisting of white sand, borax, nitre, and little chalk, subjected to fusion for an hour, and then ground down into an enamel powder for use. Blues of any shade or intensity may be obtained from the above, by mixing it with more or less flux.

The beautiful greenish yellow, of which color so many ornamental glass vessels been lately imported from Germany, is made in Bohemia by the following process. Ore of uranium, Uran-ochre, or Uran-glimmer, in fine powder, being roasted, and dissolved in nitric acid; the filtered solution is to be freed from any lead present in it, by cautious addition of dilute sulphuric acid. The clear green solution is to be evaporated to dryness, and the mass ignited till it becomes yellow. One part of this oxide to be mixed with 3 or more parts of a flux, consisting of 4 parts of red lead and 1 of ground flints; the whole fused together and then reduced to powder.

Chrome Green Triturate together in a mortar equal parts of chromate of potash flowers of sulphur; put the mixture into a crucible and fuse. Pour out the fluid mass; when cool, grind and wash well with water to remove the sulphuret of potash and leave the beautiful green oxide of chrome. This is to be collected upon a filter, dried, rubbed down along with thrice its weight of a flux, consisting of 4 parts of red lead 1 part of ground flints fused into a transparent glass; the whole is now to be and afterward reduced to a fine powder.

Violet. One part of calcined black oxide of manganese, one of zaffre, ten parts white glass pounded, and one of red lead, mixed, fused, and ground. Or gold purple (Cassius's purple precipitate) with chlorsilver previously fused, with ten times weight of a flux, consisting of ground quartz, borax, and red lead, all melted together; solution of tin being dropped into a large quantitveof water, solution of nitrate silver may be first added, and then solution of gold in aqua regia, in proper proportions. The precipitate to be mixed with flux and fused.

Exhibition Stained Glass Windows. Leaded work with medallions and ornamental work of the early Gothic style; and in the style of the fourteenth century, the figures being St. Peter and St. Paul, St. George and Britannia; armorial decoration; a landscape and ornamental work suitable for a dwelling house. Flowers painted and enamelled on a large plate of glass, with borders; the glass having been burnt in a kiln four times.

The interest attached to this beautiful art, and its comparatively recent revival, calls for a few remarks. Its antiquity is undoubted. Pliny speaks of "coloured glasses made to imitate precious stones and gems," and painted glass in the church of Notre Dame at Paris is described as early as the sixth century. To Suggerius Abbot of St. Denis, in 1150, is probably owing the introduction of painted glasses in churches. How rapidly his example was followed, is proved by the magnificent glass of the thirteenth century abounding on the continent, and partially existing in this country, the oldest examples we have being in Canterbury Cathedral. At first the ornaments consisted of a mere drapering; then rude representations of saints and kings; then panels of various forms, with subjects from the Testaments, on grounds of blue or ruby, the intermediate parts rilled with Mosaic patterns in rich colours, and the whole enclosed within a coloured border. In later styles single figures predominated, with flowing patterns of foliage, and later still, with canopies over them. Some of the finest works are by French and Flemish artists; and this art was traditionally known to the early Florentine painter Cimabue, who is said to have introduced it into Italy. Probably our actual obligations are due to our Norman neighbours, as a necessary appendage to their architecture. It has been a popular notion that this art was lost to us; such is not the case; it has indeed been dormant, but nevei extinct.

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