Leaded stained glass is produced using 4 different methods including Cathedral, Opalescent, Domestic Mouth Blown and European Mouth Blown.
The Cathedral and Opalescent stained glass are the more common types that are used today, primarily due to the overall cost of the glass and the labor involved in the production of a finished stained glass window.
Both types are fabricated using pots of molten clear glass, with the introduction of specific colors into the pots which create the finished colors of the stained glass.
In the case of Cathedral stained glass, only one color is involved and therefore, the final result is a single tint of stained glass.
On the other hand, in the case of Opalescent stained glass, the introduction of color into the clear glass and process of physically stirring the pot with additional colors being added accordingly in the same manner and stirring continues until the required color mix is attained. Thus the finished result is the swirling effect of the color which you see in the finished stained glass.
After the mixing is completed, the molten glass is poured onto a screed and it leveled to a thickness of approximately 1/8″, and the general size of a finish sheet is 42″ x 84″.
This type of stained glass may have various textures on one side, i.e. granite, hammered, ripple, mottled, and many others which aid in the creation of the designs of the finished stained glass windows.
Hand or mouth blown stained glass, make up the remaining types of glass used in the creation of leaded stained glass windows. These types are used primarily when hand painting is involved. Again, the stained glass is 1/8″ in thickness and instead of being produced in a large pot and poured onto a table, this glass is physically blown into specific size “bubbles” at the end of a “blow pipe”. It is then laid onto a table and with a little assistance from gravity, the glass flows to an even thickness. There is usually more glass waste with this glass, due to the thicker edges that develop during the natural flow of the glass. When this does occur, the edges are not salvageable, due to the fact that it will not fit into the lead came.
This glass usually contains “seeds” or air bubbles, which are the result of the physical blowing of the glass. These seeds add the antique effect to many of the types of glass , and is very common. These seeds can also be intentionally increased through various methods.
In each case, when leaded stained glass is the customer’s choice, the glass is assembled by the use of “lead came”, which also is used in multiple configurations, depending on the design of the stained glass window.
Each segment of the lead came, is soldered to another segment, both on the interior and exterior of the window.
Then the window is waterproofed and the proper bracing is added for strength of the window and finally a finished product, ready for installation and appreciation and the enjoyment by generations to come.