Stained Glass Artist

Stained Glass Artist

There are many creative disciplines which blur the lines between craft and art form. Indeed, the difference between the works described by these two phrases are often subjective, and how any item is perceived will always be, in part, down to the preconceptions of the observer. However, a consideration of the role and methods of the stained glass artist may offer a clearer understanding of this fascinating and historically significant activity.
For those who believe the distinction between art and craft should be made on the basis of whether a commercial motive was involved, the stained glass artist should definitely be considered a craftsperson. The rare and technical nature of the materials used in the creation of stained glass windows and the skills required to work them meant that extremely few of such items can ever have been created purely as a means of artistic expression, at the artist’s own expense. Since the first architectural use of glass in western lands, glazing has been a highly specialised trade, and those who made and fitted any kind of windows – especially highly ornate decorative examples – would have spent many years learning their trade and working their way up from simpler forms.
For others, however, the ‘art or craft’ discussion revolves around social context. Historically, arts were seen as the pursuit of important and well-to-do members of society, as they sought to occupy and express themselves. Crafts, on the other hand, were the modest efforts ordinary people made to imbue everyday objects with an element of style or personalisation. How would communities of the time have viewed those who installed stained glass windows? While stained glass artists of the time were traders who worked with their hands, rather than members of the gentry class, the extremely high value and prestige of their line of work would have found talented decorative glazers constantly in the company of the higher echelons of society. In fact, since the majority of stained glass pieces from many periods are found in an ecclesiastical context, these master artisans may have been able to step outside the social hierarchy of their time to some degree, as did members of the clergy. Certainly, the respect they commanded and the connections they maintained would have far exceeded those of any village seamstress or basket weaver.
While there are many decorative forms of craftwork, these are almost always applied to some kind of functional item. Art, on the other hand, can exist purely for the purpose of self-expression or non-verbal communication. Where does the work of the stained glass artist fall in this comparison? While windows are certainly a functional part of any building, the architecture of many churches, cathedrals, and stately homes was designed specifically to accommodate stained glass works. Once installed, these pieces do little to provide visibility or functional illumination; what they do offer, however, are awe-inspiring images and light effects which are certainly intended to affect observers on an emotional level. Clearly, then, it is not inappropriate to refer to any such craftsperson as a stained glass artist.



Stained Glass Restoration |Stained Glass Designers |Stained Glass