When you think of stained glass, images of grand cathedrals may come to mind. But stained glass is used in everything from interior doorways to fireplace screens. Whatever your style, stained glass -- as well as the less expensive alternative, decorative glass -- can illuminate your interior.
Stained glass has been used since antiquity. By the turn of the 10th century, this art form became associated with grand churches, usually depicting Biblical scenes.
Today stained and decorative glass are being incorporated into contemporary design, often depicting more modern images.
“Why try to recreate the past? You can do that if you’re working on a period piece, but I’ve been really fortunate to have clients amenable to contemporary work,” said Daniel Herman of Daniel Herman Stained Glass Studio in Baltimore.
An artist in the medium for 36 years, Herman creates stained glass for churches, commercial and residential spaces. He believes contemporary works dominate those creations because “these are our times and our art is probably truest when it reflects that.”
“One woman wanted me to recreate a Matisse piece,” Herman said. Doubting he could best Matisse, who he considers the premier colorist of our time, Herman suggested to the woman that “Matisse had his chance. Why not let me give it a shot?”
Limited only by his imagination, Herman encourages his clients to embrace color, texture and light -- elements that make stained glass an attractive addition to a home.
Eileen Martin, a resident artist at VisArts in Rockville, Md., and owner of Martin Glass Creations, works with clients to recreate their personalities in stained glass. She created a desert-themed stained glass entrance for a woman in Clarksburg, W. Va., for instance. “She just really loved the desert and cacti,” Martin said.
Aside from windows, stained glass can be used in transoms, as inlays on cabinets or as hanging art. Both Martin and Herman practice authentic stained glass artistry -- not to be confused with stained glass overlay, a window film made of plastic that looks like stained glass. “It’s the same technique they’ve been using for 800 years,” Herman said.
Decorative glass is less expensive than stained glass and uses modern technology for fabrication. With decorative glass, pictures are sketched and reproduced on poster board. Glass is then cut in the shape of those pictures and later assembled like a jigsaw puzzle. Ashland-based Decorative Glass Solutions uses decorative glass as fireplace surrounds, shower doors, kitchen cabinet inlays and even as transoms over doorways.