What Is The Stained Glass Overlay?

What is the stained glass overlay? There are two types of stained glass overlays. Some stained glass designers consider stained glass overlay the future of stained glass. Overlay is a modern technique used...

Some stained glass designers consider stained glass overlay the future of stained glass. Overlay is a modern technique used for stained glass.

"There are two types of stained glass overlays," says David Dillon, the owner of Austin Cut Glass of Austin, Texas. He has been in business for 25 years, specializing in stained glass and double glass windows, translucent doors, accent windows, and cabinet windows. He also does sandblasting and customized hardwood doors such as mahogany or oak.

"A true stained glass overlay is made when you take a piece of glass that you are currently working with and you either glue another piece of glass to that (you cut out size or shape to it) or you fuse it together by melting the two pieces of glass together," he says. "That's the true stain glass overlay."

Uncle Fat's Glass, an Illinois stained glass overlay retailer (http://www.unclefatsattic.com/welcome_to_our_store.htm), refers to their stained glass overlays as a nontraditional form of stained glass that uses cut pieces of Mylar adhered to tempered glass and outlined with lead.

The other form of overlay is cast glass overlay, which is the oldest form of molding glass, says the Glass Encyclopedia (http://www.glassencyclopedia.com/).

"The technique was known in ancient Rome and Egypt, but in the art nouveau period (very early 1900s) it was called Pate de Verre and developed to a very high artistic level by such French artists as Gabriel Argy-Rousseau, Henry and Jean Cros, Albert Dammouse, Francois Decorchemont, Amalric Walter, Emile Galle and Georges Despret," the encyclopedia says.

The technique, the encyclopedia says, involves creating a paste made from powdered glass and coloring agents. That paste is then poured into a fire-proof mold, filling it, and firing it in a furnace to melt the glass.

"Making cast glass is a slow process requiring a large amount of skilled craftswork," the encyclopedia says. "Experience and knowledge is needed to avoid bubbles, cloudiness, and cracking during annealing (cooling). Many cast glass sculptures are solid and quite large. Even a small piece 10 centimeters thick can take a month of carefully controlled cooling to ensure it does not crack, and at 20 centimeters thickness the time required to cool safely will be about four months."

Much of the decorative art made through this process, the encyclopedia says, is glass sculptures.

A lot of those sculptures tend to be small, the encyclopedia says, because of the process required in their making. Only after World War II were techniques developed that allowed for large sculptures to be made.

Since the 1980s, the encyclopedia says, leading cast glass makers have come from New Zealand.

"It has been said that New Zealand has developed its own 'Silicon Valley' of cast glass artists," the encyclopedia says. "Led by Ann Robinson who has been casting glass since the early 1980s, there are a growing number of glass artists in New Zealand who specialize in Cast Glass."

Some stained glass companies mix the two forms, Dillon says, adhering the stained glass to cast glass overlays.

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