Posted by: Glassartist | June 1, 2009

Antique Glass – production and use for stained glass windows

Antique Glass is a beautiful material for the stained glass artist

Antique glass refers mostly to the process of flat glass production by the traditional mouth-blown method and is the best for making quality stained glass windows.  To see how this glass has been used in many different ways in our stained glass window commissions please visit our gallery and portfolio and look at some of the detail photographs of our work.

Its apparent “imperfections” – bubbles and reams – cause movement when looking through the glass, giving slight distortions to the transmitted light. Each piece is unique and the thickness of glass will vary considerably from sheet to sheet as well as within each sheet. The density of colour will also therefore vary, a pleasing additional bonus to the lively visual character of this type of glass.

How antique glass is made

The molten glass is gathered from the pot on the glass-blowers hollow pipe called a punty. Usually one colour is blown at a time; however dips into different pots of colour can incorporate many colours in one sheet by careful manipulation of the molten glass.

As air fills the balloon of glass on the punty it is swung and shaped until it forms a long cylinder, and when it has reached the intended size and whilst still fluid it is cut from the rod. The ends are removed, and a transverse score is made along the cooled cylinder. The glass is re-heated and opened out in a kiln called a’lehr’ and flattened out into a sheet. Once the stress has been released from the glass by careful controlled cooling through a specific temperature range (called ‘annealing’) it is ready to be cut and glazed into stained glass windows.

This antique ‘muff’ or ‘cylinder glass’ includes hundreds of colours either in beautiful single colour sheets and also two or more combinations as ‘streaky’ glass.

In addition there are ‘flashed’ glass combinations where a thin layer of top colour is applied to another colour glass, enabling etching and engraving to reveal both colours in the one piece. The density of colour on each sheet may vary from one end of the glass to the other.

Flashed glass utilises a technique of blowing a cylinder of glass with two or more layers of different colours. The base glass, which may be coloured or clear, has a thin layer of a different colour spread across the sheets and the surface colour may then be etched, sandblasted away or wheel-engraved to reveal the base colour underneath, either in ‘colour wash’ effect, or to a particular design.

As the methods of antique glass production have changed very little over the centuries we can often replace broken antique glass in historic windows with newly made antique glass which is indistinguishable from the original. Damaged stained glass windows require the careful matching of colour and type of glass and a skilled restorer needs a very large pool of glass to achieve a perfect match.

Restoration Glass

In historic buildings and Grade 1 and 2 listed properties modern float window glass should be replaced with a suitable ‘restoration glass’ such as a full antique plain sheet. This is also often chosen for the sensitive restoration of clock face glass, and antique picture frames and furniture.

The art of making antique glass is still practised in the U.K., but most glass in use in stained glass studios for new stained glass window commissions and for stained glass church window restoration is imported from France (St Just), Germany (Lamberts) and Poland (Tatra).


For more information on this type of glass and hand-spun coloured roundels and bullions, please contact us for more details or a quotation.

Ask for John Tarrant on 023 92750512 or email us: for more details and prices of antique glass sheet, or for more information on commissioning a stained glass window using this beautiful antique glass.



  1. […] Antique Glass Posted in Churches, Religious Art, antique stained glass, stained glass windows | Tags: antique glass, art glass, church stained glass, cylinder glass, glass, hand made, mouth blown, stained glass, stained glass artist, stained glass. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: