Stained Glass Through Time in San Antonio: The History of a Thousand Year Old Form of Art

san antonio stained glass through time

Mesmerizing stained glass windows can be found in San Antonio’s historic churches and older buildings. Stained beneath these towering works of art is an unforgettable experience. As the eye is drawn to the many different shapes and colors glittering in the light, one is instantly captivated by their intricacy and beauty.

Stained glass is an art that is so unique, so different than the traditional methods of using canvas or clay, that it’s sort of a wonder in itself how it came into existence. After all, what compelled people to spend hundreds of hours meticulously piecing together tiny little pieces of colored glass? This article highlights the story of stained glass, its remarkable origin and promising future.

The Origins of Stained Glass in Churches, Synagogues, and Temples

The use of colored glass can be dated back to Ancient Roman and Egyptian times when small beads and decorative pieces of colored glass were manufactured for use in pottery and jewelry. However, it wasn’t until the 4th and 5th century that stained glass made its way into churches. These oldest examples of “stained glass like” windows can be found in early Christian churches. The maker of the windows used thin pieces of alabaster which were set into wooden frames, giving a colored glass effect.

Later, in the 7th century, during the construction of the monastery of St Peter at Monkwearmouth, Benedict Biscop ordered French workers to glaze the windows of the monastery. In the 8th century, the manufacture of colored glass spread to Southwest Asia. Colored glass pieces were cut into gemstones and used to decorate mosques, palaces, and public spaces. Soon, great works of stained glass were born, adorning the halls of religious buildings throughout the world, including Sainte-Chapelle, Notre Dame, and the Canterbury Cathedral.

The Use of Stained Glass Today and in the Future

This tradition of using colored glass in a religious setting continued throughout the years and still remains popular today. However, today, stained glass has also taken on a new role. Now, it’s very common to find stained glass windows in luxury homes, high end resorts, and other esteemed commercial and public spaces. Stained glass provides many practical architectural benefits. It creates privacy, softens lights, and adds aesthetic appeal. For this reason, many designers use stained glass in bathrooms, entryways, and cabinets.

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The future of stained glass is something that is yet to be discovered. Advancements in technology have allowed for improvements in glassmaking and its production and have also allowed colored glass to take on 3D forms in sculptures and art. Only time will tell how glass will evolve, but it’s safe to say that this 1000 year form of art is likely not to disappear anytime soon.

Continue San Antonio’s Stained Glass Tradition

Be a part of San Antonio’s tradition and history by bringing stained glass into your home or church. Call Scottish Stained Glass today, the premier stained glass studio in the San Antonio area, to receive an estimate or schedule your free onsite consultation.

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