Sunday, 28 June 2015

Security Glass or no security glass...

I'm often asked for advice about whether to have the extra layer of glass which acts as a security measure in addition to the stained glass panel. Stained glass panels beyond a certain size need support whether this is via the traditional method of bar attached to the panel or with a supporting layer of glass. In addition to the structural support, using toughened or laminate glass as an added layer also acts as a security measure and if security plays on your mind a lot then it could be the option to go for. If you do decide to have supporting glass then you need to decide whether to have the glass at the front or at the back of the stained glass i.e internal or external. If you have the glass at the front then your panels will look like this;

and this...

and this...

Internal view below with additional later fanlight!

 You can see that the fronting glass is very visible and an obvious deterrent. Typically it is only the lower panels that have the extra layer of glass as you need to be able to read any fanlight numbers without that surface bounce of light off the glass (and it's unlikely that someone would enter from that height!). In the daytime from the inside, for you looking out, the panels won't look any different and at night when your hall lights are on the fronting glass won't be visible from the outside view.

Night shot from outside - no different.

Some people opt to have the glass on the inside. Reasons for this are usually that the customer likes the old world look of lead and glass, which you cannot see so clearly with the fronting glass. It could also be that the whole street has panels set like this and you are blending into the street look or that you are in a conservation zone and have particularly nice brickwork and features at the front which tend to be enhanced by the visible stained glass. Below are some views of panels with glass behind;

This job was more tricky than most with the right angle shapes which present a weak spot if cut freehand, so the toughened glass was waterjetted to get the right angles and the door was made new to accommodate both layers of glass. In the daytime from the inside the extra layer doesn't notice. (An exception to this would be where there is bright light within the hallway from adjacent window/s and light falls on the glass - then you would see some surface reflection).

Glass on the internal side.
Below are 2 jobs with slimline double glazed units behind the external stained glass - an added layer!

Slimline unit behind the fanlight only.

Textures of glass and lead...

Slimline units behind new woodwork and letterbox - being installed! The stained glass is a little further away so you do not have the immediacy of viewing through a single layer.
St James's Piccadilly - just a beautiful example of surface texture using the 'bendy' Crown Glass. You can really see how the light hits at different angles. In some old panels this effect was deliberately achieved by placing the glass at different angles in the lead in order to catch the light differently as your eye passes over. 

The photo below sent to me by a customer illustrates a possible risk of having the supporting glass on the inside. The glass is just as secure but not visible from the outside so not an obvious deterrent.
An attempted break in meant that 4 pieces of glass were broken but because of the toughened glass behind no entry was gained. Unfortunately for the customer there is now the cost of removing both the unbroken toughened glass and the stained glass in order to repair the broken pieces. One way to lower the risk of attempted burglary is to have added security features for example, double lock, external light, camera. Your local Neighbourhood Watch or the Police have good information leaflets on this.
There is no hard and fast rule to 'which way round' but if you are more concerned with security than getting that traditional look then you probably should opt for peace of mind and have the security glass on the outside. 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

The 'Pricke of Conscience' window - All Saints North Street, York.

A good friend sent me these brilliant photos that her daughter Rachael took, capturing some scenes from my favourite York stained glass. The 'Pricke of Conscience' window is not for the faint hearted! It illustrates an anonymous devotional poem of c1340, written in the Northumbrian dialect of Middle English. The panels depict in terrifying fashion the last 15 days of the world. The panels read from bottom left to top right, below are some selected scenes along with their accompanying poem...

The first sign: the sea rises to the height of mountains
The se sal ryse, als the bukes says
Abouten the heght of ilka mountayne
Fully fourty cubyttes certaybne
And in his stede even upstande
Als an hegte hille dus on the lande.
Lines 4759–4763

The fourth sign: the fish leap out of the sea roaring.

The fierth day, sal swilk a wonder be
The mast wondreful fisshes of the se
Sal com to-gyder and mak swilk roryng
That it sal be hydus til mans heryng
Bot what that roryng sal signify,
Na man whit, bot God almyghty.
Lines 4770–4775

The seventh sign: Earthquakes destroy buildings.

The sevend day begynns doun sal falle
And grete castels, and tour with-alle.
Lines 4782–4783

The eighth sign: rocks and stones are consumed by fire.

The eght day, hard roches and stanes
Sal strik togyder, alle attanes.
An ilkan of tham sal doun cast
And ilkan agayn other hortel fast
Swa that ilka stan, on diverse wyse,
Sal sonder other in thre partyse.
Lines 4784–4789
The eleventh sign: terrified people come out of the caves praying.

The ellevend day men sal com out
Of caves, and holes and wend about,
Als wode men that na witt can;
And nane sal spek til other than.
Lines 4798–4801

The twelfth sign: graves are opened and dead men’s bones be set together and rise all at once.
The thredend day sal dede men banes
Be sett to-gyder, and ryse al attanes,
And aboven on thair graves stand;
This sal byfalle in ilka land.
Lines 4804–4807
The thirteenth sign: the stars fall from heaven.

The twelfte day aftir, the sternes alle
And the signes fra the heven sal falle.
Lines 4802–4803

The fourteenth sign: The death of all living things.

The fourtend day, al that lyves than
Sal dighe, childe man and woman;
For thai shalle with tham rys ogayn
That byfor war dede, outher til ioy or payn.
Lines 4808–4811
The fifteenth sign: the whole cosmos goes up in flames.
The fiftend day thos sal betyde,
Alle the world sal bryn on ilke syde,
And the erthe whar we now duelle,
Until the utter end of all helle.
Lines 4812–4815
Well I did say it wasn't for the faint hearted! I bet All Saints North Street had one of the quietest congregations in the whole of medieval England!
You can see the full set of panels here; Vidimus or better still visit this beautiful church in person; 

15/10/15 update - A good friend of mine has sent me a full length shot of the panels all together in their full glory;

Photo courtesy of Louise Whittaker

Louise backed up my suspicions about the glazing of the 12th and 13th panel; "the lines in the poem re the thirteenth sign are apparently before those describing the twelfth sign, which would leave me to believe the stars fall down first, so maybe they were glazed around the wrong way!".

What a difference a door makes...!

This door was probably the height of chic when it was put in some years back but the style and the Decralead were a mismatch to this beautiful Victorian home being restored in Brockley.

(Photo courtesy of
The London Door Company made this classic Victorian style door...

(Photo courtesy of
The customers chose a lovely original Victorian organic design which needed slight adaptation for the new shaped arches.

(Photo courtesy of
A mix of subtle tints and textured glass were used to give colour and sparkle.
(Photo courtesy of

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I've often been told what a thrill it is to turn on your lights for the first time at night when the glass has just gone in but I rarely get to see this effect so it was really great to get sent a night shot.

Monday, 8 June 2015

A memory to treasure...the Abbey Church of Saint Foy in Conques, France.

This set of bathroom panels recently completed was based on a fond memory of the effect of the stained glass panels and beautiful interior of the Abbey Church of Saint Foy.

Bathroom panels in Spectrum streaky glass
The Abbey panels below were designed by Pierre Soulages whose aim was to reflect the 'artistic emotional power' of the 11th century architecture. Pierre could not find a glass already in existence that met the effect he desired, so he conducted over 700 tests to get the right quality of translucent glass that was colourless but modulated the light in a particular way. There is a fascinating article about this journey here.

Pierre's glass, although colourless, picks up the mood of the sky making the panels ever changing and lively. The glass that was chosen for the bathroom has a lovely changeable quality being both warm and silky in certain lights and bright and strong in full sunlight.

 One of the advantages of having some movement in the glass is also that you get great reflections!