Here at Scottish Stained Glass, we have the utmost respect for the tradition and history of stained glass, but it is not that often that we find “stained glass history” in the making. So we were fascinated to discover this article in the Stained Glass Quarterly, entitled: “Building Bridges of Glass – How Stained Glass Windows are Furthering Peace in the Middle East.”
Read this article here:
The history of stained glass windows in that part of the world is believed to even predate the most ancient pieces discovered in Europe. Perhaps this is not surprising, considering that the Middle East is a sandy, arid desert land, and the main component of glass is sand!
The ancient Arab cultures there actually made windows using thin slabs of translucent alabaster, with pieces of colored glass inserted. Apparently in the ancient city of Sana’a, in Yemen, (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) many of the tall slender buildings contain vividly colored stained glass. The ancient Arab methodology entailed cutting the glass into pieces known as mullions, then attaching them with strips of gypsum into beautiful abstract patterns.
Although religious icons and biblical scenes were the hallmark of medieval European stained glass art, this kind of storytelling never developed in the Middle East. Stained glass was used strictly for decorative purposes… until recently.
For their 75th birthday, St. John’s Church in Cairo approached an American artist, Deborah Balchen, to create 9 oil paintings depicting various Biblical stories concerning Egypt, stories that were also mentioned in the Qur’an. One of the missions of this highly respected church has been to build a bridge between Christians and Muslims via the arts, to show how East and West can work together and even enhance each other’s’ spiritual lives. The paintings were to be used as the foundation of 9 stained glass windows that were created by Egyptian stained glass artist Dr. Ahmed Nabil and his son Amr, under the guidance of Deborah Balchen, who was living in Cairo at the time.
The nine finished stained glass windows were installed in January of 2006, and the opening of the exhibition, including the windows and the nine original oil paintings, was widely attended and praised by both Christians and Muslims.
A year later, Deborah was commissioned to do a larger set of windows by Nobel Peace Prize finalist Archbishop Chacour, for The Church of the Sermon on the Mount in Galilee, Israel. His charge to Deborah was to create windows that offer the message of peace and the all inclusive nature of God – a challenge she happily accepted.
The article contains wonderful photos of the Deborah Balchen’s oil paintings and all the stained glass windows, as well as a lot of fascinating information about how she researched the project, where she got her inspiration from, and the initiatives of the various churches involved to bring peace and harmony to that fractured and troubled part of the world.
What an inspiring stained glass project! As stained glass artists, we are honored to be a part of this amazing tradition of art, one that stretches back many centuries around the world, and continues to make history to this day.
Contact us to work with one of our talented stained glass artists, to make your own individual piece of stained glass history!
In our twenty plus years in business, we have installed gorgeous stained glass windows in countless Denver area homes and in many other cities as well. Although we’ve been opening more showrooms in other cities, there are still many stained glass lovers across the country who would love to have a custom designed stained glass window, but don’t live near any of our showrooms.
Our nationwide expansion began in a rather unusual, but telling, way. Some of our previous happy clients were moving out of state, but were not content to leave their Scottish Stained Glass windows or door panels behind. They simply didn’t want to part with them! So, we helped these clients remove the windows and relocate them to their new house in a new part of the country, and then the fun began… all of their new neighbors and friends saw this marvelous stained glass, and wanted to order some from us as well.
We’ve now got working with these “long distance” clients down to a science!
We can send many photos of different designs and styles over the internet, to give prospective clients something to choose from. If they have a different idea in mind, they can work with one of our designers on an original design via phone and computer renderings. Over the years, we’ve developed a system that includes the telephone, the computer, and some pretty sophisticated CAD computer programs that allow our designers to show out of town clients exactly what their windows or doors will look like – before we even build them.
In this way, the client is assured of getting the exact style, pattern and colors they want, not to mention the correct size and shape to fit in their existing windows. In fact, although we hand craft our custom stained glass windows the old fashioned way, piece by piece, computer programs have revolutionized the accuracy of the pattern, and create perfect results each and every time.
Once our clients have approved the design, the building process starts in one of our local studios, with one of our highly talented and experienced artisans working from the computer generated pattern, known since medieval times as a “cartoon.” When the stained glass panel is finished, we oh-so-carefully pack and ship it to their home, along with highly detailed instructions and any of the materials necessary for installation.
We also provide a video training for local installers to follow. Although we’ve developed our own installation methods over the years, designed to keep the old window in place as a safeguard for the new panel, honestly, our system is pretty foolproof for any window installer to master. So, if you would love some Scottish Stained Glass, but don’t live near one of our showrooms, don’t let that stop you! We work with clients nationwide, and can safely ship our finished work anywhere.
Where ever you live, please contact us today about beautiful, unique, custom stained glass windows for your home, commercial space or for your church!
As a thoroughly modern stained glass studio, Scottish Stained Glass uses the methods, materials and new technologies that owner Martin Faith has been developing for the last twenty years, as well as the latest in stained glass window installation techniques.
But our passion for this craft, our love for stained glass in all its forms and our inspiration for our work… comes from the stained glass masters of the past.
Two of our favorites are Frank Lloyd Wright, the iconic American architect, and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the architect, designer and watercolorist from our native Scotland. However, there are many other master artists and architects who worked with the medium of glass, as well as other more traditional fine art mediums.
One of the most amazing is John La Farge, a New York painter and muralist. La Farge’s intricately patterned and vividly colored stained glass work rivals that of the medieval craftsman of centuries gone by, who were undoubtedly a huge influence on his work. Take a look at some of John La Farge’s stunning stained glass church windows here:
Irish artist Harry Clarke studied stained glass at the Dublin Art School, but also made part of his living as a book illustrator. Clarke’s first published book was none other than Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen, containing 16 color plates and more than 24 black and white illustrations.
Although Clarke also created stunning church windows, the bulk of his stained glass was secular. See some examples of Harry Clarke’s work here:
Most of you have probably heard of Marc Chagall, arguably one of the most successful 20th century artists. This prolific artist worked in just about every artistic medium, including stage design, tapestry, ceramics and of course, stained glass. His style was thoroughly unique and modern, yet paid homage to his influences. Interestingly, his first major stained glass window commission came when Chagall was 70 years old!
Take a look at this beautiful stained glass window Chagall created for the Saint-Stephen Cathedral in Metz, France:
No discussion of stained glass masters would be complete without mentioning Christopher Whitworth Whall, an English artist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Whall is hailed as one of the key influencers in the history of modern stained glass. When beginning his career he only designed the stained glass windows, but someone else actually built them. But in 1887 Whall converted his cow shed into a stained glass workshop, taking over every part of the craft, including the cutting of the glass, the painting of the glass, and any necessary firing or glazing. Take a look at some of Christopher Whall’s stained glass windows here:
If this work inspires you, then you might like to add some modern stained glass to your home in the form of entryway windows, transoms, door panels, kitchen cabinets, or even hanging plaques or panels. Why not create your own masterpiece with the help of our design team, one that’s destined to become as famed in your family’s history as these pieces we’ve showcased above!
In the Middle Ages, stained glass windows were used by European churches, cathedrals and palaces to let in light, all the while telling the story of biblical figures and important religious events. This tradition has carried on to the present day, and Scottish Stained Glass has done many lovely stained glass windows for modern churches.
In the ancient Celtic civilization, although representational figures of people were not used, their stained glass art also contained great symbolism, expressing their beliefs about man, nature and the hereafter with symbols such as the famed Celtic Knot.
Storytelling, message and symbolism in stained glass has a long and illustrious history. While many people think this style of stained glass belongs to the past, in fact telling an important story via bits of colored glass woven into a cohesive design with strips of metal is still relevant and still going strong to this day.
The Kigali City Council in Rwanda, along with the UK based Aegis Trust, an organization dedicated to the prevention of genocide, decided to build a memorial center for the victims of the Rwandan genocide. They commissioned Israeli painter and stained glass artist Ardyn Halter, the son of an Auschwitz concentration camp survivor, to create two “Windows of Hope” to tell the story of this tragedy and express their hopes for a different future.
Measuring 9’8″ x 8’8″, these two beautiful windows each direct a strong shaft of light into the dark, underground exhibition. The light is the symbol of the Rwandan people’s remembrance, learning, change and hope.
Ardyn collaborated on the construction of the stained glass pieces with his father, Roman Halter.
The first piece, Descent To Genocide, describes the period leading up to the genocide, with the many dead represented by broken skulls. It depicts a blocked staircase, and is done with dark colors.
The second panel, The Way Forward, shows the same staircase leading towards an open sky, unblocked. The sky and light colors promise a better future. Both the windows are masterful in design and execution. Upon first glance, they are simply wonderful examples of why stained glass is such an important and well loved form of visual art. But when you read the story behind them and really study them to see what message they portray, you can further understand why stained glass has become such a valued part of our history and our current culture.
The Kigali Memorial Centre opened in April of 2004 — the tenth anniversary of the hundred day genocide against the Tutsis tribe in Rwanda. Over 60,000 people visited it in the first three months. Over 250,000 murdered victims are buried on this site, along with several permanent exhibitions detailing the Rwandan genocide and other genocides around our planet. The opening was attended by 9 heads of state, and the memorial and its evocative stained glass windows have been well received.
Click here for more information about the Kigali Memorial Centre.
Our friends to the north in Canada have some pretty wonderful stained glass, we have to admit. European trained glass artists founded the first stained glass studios in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec around 1856. According to the Institute for Stained Glass in Canada, stained glass windows constitute what they consider to be the most widespread public art in the country, with over 100,000 known pieces in public buildings, and countless more in private homes.
Apparently public buildings in just about every city and town across that vast nation contain lovely, well preserved examples of this art form. Stained glass collectors have been acquiring all sorts of windows originally commissioned in Europe, some dating back to the early 16th century.
The Institute has undertaken a survey of stained glass windows across Canada, province by province. These are not pieces in a museum or private collection; they are still installed at their original sites. You can see photos of this multi year endeavor on their website.
If you are a stained glass aficionado, please take a look at the Institute’s work. We think you’ll be enchanted and impressed by the fabulous craftsmanship and the breadth of ideas represented, from religious icons in churches to an amazing, modern piece known as the Great Wave which is installed across 40 meters of glass windows in the international terminal of Vancouver International Airport.
We never cease being impressed by this amazing, ancient yet thoroughly modern art form. Like all art, it changes with the times, and like all art, some people are absolute masters with it, creating work that withstands the test of time.
Here at Scottish Stained Glass, our designers and builders have the highest respect for the stained glass masters of old, and for the people in every corner of the globe who carry on this distinguished tradition. Although we have installed stained glass windows for over 15,00 happy customers in our twenty hear history, we never copy someone else’s design.
However, we are inspired by a lot of different sources and that inspiration shows up in our work. If happen to find a piece of stained glass in a unique style or pattern that you absolutely love, we would be happy to use that as the inspiration to make you a completely new, custom stained glass window that reflects that style. If you adore Deco, or the flowing floral effects of Greene and Greene, we would make something with that same flavor and style.
In fact, every piece of stained glass we do is custom designed to your specifications, and hand built using a combination of traditional craftsmanship married with the most modern materials and installation techniques.
To get some ideas of our work, please visit our galleries. And if you were intrigued by the idea of collectors obtaining old stained glass from Europe, you might be interested in one of our antique Scottish leaded glass windows. They make an incredibly powerful statement in a modern home. Contact us today for more details.