Dictionarium polygraphicum. Painting or staining glass.

Dictionarium Polygraphicum:
Or, The Whole Body of Arts Regularly Digested.
Vol I.
London: Printed for C. Hitch and C. Davis in Pater-noster Row, and S. Austen in St. Paul's Church Yard. MDCCXXXV.
The antient or primitive manner of painting glass was very simple, and consequently very easy; it consisted in the mere arrangement of pieces of glass of different colours in some sort of symmetry; and constituted what is now call'd MOSAIC work.

In process of time they came to attempt more regular designs, and also to represent figures heightened with all their shades; yet they proceeded no farther than the drawing the contours of the figures in black with water, and hatching the draperies after the same manner on glasses of the colour of the ob ject they designed to paint.

For the carnations, they us’d glass of a bright red colour, and upon this they drew the principal lineaments of the face, &c. with black.

But in time the taste for this sort of painting improving considerably, and applying the art to the adorning of churches, basilicks, &c. they found out means of incorporating the colours in the glass it self, by heating them in the fire to a proper degree, having first laid on the colours.

The first notion of this is said to have been given by a French painter of Marseilles, after he had been at Rome, under the pontificate of julius II. But the first who carried it to any heighth were Albert Durer and Lucas Van Leyden.

The colours us'd in painting or staining of glass are very different to from those us'd in painting either in water or oil colurs.

In the windows of antient churches, &c. there are to be seen the most beautiful and vivid colours imaginable, which far exceed any of those us’d by the moderns; not so much because the secret of making those colours is intirely lost; as that the moderns won’t go to the charge of them, nor be at the necessary, pains, by reason that this sort of painting is not now so much in esteem as it was formerly.

Those beautiful works which were made in the glass-houses were of two kinds.

In some the colour was diffus'd through the whole substance of the glass; in others, which were the more common, the colour was only on one side, scarce penetrating even the surface more than one third of a line, tho’ this was more or less according to the nature of the colour, the yellow being found always to enter the deepest of any colour.

These last, though not so strong and beautiful as these mentioned before, were of more advantage to the workmen, because that they could on the same glass, tho' already coloured, shew other kind of colours, where there was occasion to embroider draperies, inrich them with foliages, or represent other ornaments of gold, silver, &c.

In order to this, they made use of emery, grinding or wearing down the surface of the glass, till such time as they were got thro’ the colour to the clear glass; this done, they apply'd the proper colours on the other side of the glass.

By this means the new colours were hindred from running and mixing with the former, when they expos'd the glasses to the fire as will appear hereafter.

When the intended ornaments were to appear white, the glass was only bared of its colour with emery, without tinging the place with any colour at all; and this was the manner by which they wrought their lights and heightenings on all kinds of colours.

The first thing to be done, in order to paint or stain glass in the modern way, is to design and even colour the whole subject on paper.

2. To chuse pieces of glass proper to receive the several parts.

3. To divide or distribute the design itself or papers it is drawn on into pieces suitable to those of the glass, always taking care that the glasses may join in the contours of the figures, and the folds of the draperies.

4. To order them so that the carnations may not be impair'd by the lead, with which the pieces are to be join'd together.

5. Having made the distribution, take care to mark all the glasses as well as papers, that they may be known again.

6. Then applying each part of the design upon the glass intended for it to transfer the design upon the glass with the black colour diluted in gum water, by tracing and following all the lines and strokes, as they appear thro’ the glass with the point of a pencil.

7. Then the glasses must be set by till they are thoroughly dry, which will be in about two days; then the work being in black and white, is to have a slight wash over with urine, gum arabick, and a little black, and repeated several times, according as the shades are desired to be heightened, with this precaution, never to apply a new wash till the former is sufficiently dried.

This done, the lights and risings are given by rubbing off the colour in their respective places, with a wooden point or the handle of the pencil.

Then having all your colours in a readiness, fill your pieces. with colours, for which use the nib of the pencil, especially in carnation, where you must be very exact; you must also be very circumspect and expeditious, and take a great deal of care not to blot or blur the tracings, and choose rather to paint on the other side of the glass.

All the colours, except yellow, may be applied on the same side, and that you must do on the contrary side, because it is, apt to mingle with the other colours, and if near the blue, will compose a green; so that for want of such precaution, the whole work may be spoil'd; if the yellow transmit it self perfectly through the quarre, it is as well as if it had been done on the same side; and take notice by the way, that the other colours have not so ready a transition, betause they consist of a grosser body.

The yellow ought to be very equally and justly laid on in a greater or lesser quantity, as you would have your shadows; ob serve this too in the rest, especially to lay them on as quick as possible, as we have already said, particularly the azure green and purple require the most exactness of any.

Now to set off and heighten the lights, in piling a beard, de scribing hair in drapery, or otherwise, use the handle or butt end of the pencil, a small pointed stick or quill, wherewith take. off the colours in those places you would enlighten, which is easily done.

Such works as are done in grisaille, you must paint after this manner: trace your piece with black, and let it dry for two days intirely; do it over very lightly and equally with a wash. So thin laid on as not to efface the first lines, and let it dry for two days; after this, run them over again with the same wash where you find it convenient to give a second tinge, and let it dry two days longer; then to give it the lights and convenient heightening, take the sharp butt end of your pencil or pointed stick or pen as before, and take off the colour of the first wash. in the most necessary places, and so your work will be finished.

To make this wash is easy; take a small pewter cup or other vessel, and put therein a quantity of black colouring; then dissolve gum arabick powdered in its weight of wine, throw this on the black in the pewter dish or sawcer, that it may be very clear and not easily dryed, and that you may have your wash for painting glass in grisaille or gray.

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