Stained glass is a common feature in contemporary culture. An explosion of interest over the last three decades has given rise to many new and imaginative forms. I love stained glass. These ‘art glass’ pieces capture the light, their jewel-like qualities lending the glass the illusion of glowing from within. In conversation with Serge Rodrigue,a stained glass artist from Quebec, Canada—shares the intricate process of creating stained glass.
Rodrigue explains that the process consists of starting with a sketch or from a picture. From this image, he extracts the most significant structural lines to make a cutting-drawing. Each piece of the drawing requires immense attention as it is not possible to cut glass into narrow or concave shapes. After selecting the basic lines of his images, Rodrigue buys the glass sheets for the project, often choosing 23 different colors and textures of glass. During the glass selection process, he explains, one needs to be mindful of the type of glass required for each project. For instance, cathedral glass is a coloured but transparent material that is available with or without texture, while opalescent glass allows light to pass through though it is not transparent. When using these two materials together, an opalescent subject over a transparent background will provide the maximum contrast.
After all of the pieces are cut, the edge of each shape is wrapped with thin copper foil. Two shapes are then placed together, along the copper foil wrapping, and soldered together. Finally, a patina finish is added along the solder line to give a smooth and finished black line between each piece of glass. At times, Rodrigue adds a wooden frame made of oak that adds strength and rigidity to the final stained glass piece. It is indeed a meticulous creative process but the end results are dazzling!
You can learn more of Rodrigue’s glass work here.
If you would like to learn about the history of stained glass, I recommend the below links. I hope you enjoy!