The LEAD Ligature, the ancient aesthetic

Trieste Tempio Israelitico

Particolare di vetrata a rulli legata a Piombo

[Versione Italiana]

As we have seen in the article dedicated to the ligature, the lead was the first material used in the production of artistic stained glass to keep linked the glass tiles. The advantage of this technique, compared to the modern Tiffany technique, is definitely the ancient and traditional aesthetic, but also a resistance to the rain even in absence of an external float glass, thanks to the putty between glass and lead.

Usually, in this days, the lead-linked artistic glass is a simple geometric stained glass, consisting of straight lines or simple and regular curves, as for roundels. This due to the difficulty of working and shaping the lead, which in the past was overcome by the great skills of medieval artisans and using of different thickness extruded lead, but today this it would be a disadvantageous process.

Lead ligature on stained-glass windows with large panels requires additional support that prevents the glass from “bulging”, forming curves on the surface that can cause fractures and detachment of vitreous tiles. For this reason, metal bars are placed at regular intervals and usually are shaped to overlap the lead lines; These metal bars are fixed to the frame (which perimetrically supports the stained glass window) and is anchored to the panel by thin copper wires welded to the corresponding lead.

So the artistic stained glass is now ready, but it is convenient to place a protective net (which will protect the hailstorm or vandalism) or an external float glass (tempered or laminated, depending on the available space in the frame). In some cases, for example in some northern Italian churches, the application of the protective float glass is only internally to protect the stained glass from the votive candles smoke; externally the rain washes away the low quantity smog particles into the north cleaner atmosphere. An internal protective float glass is also less visible (due to the fewer reflections internally) and this solution lets externally appreciate the lead ligature that enhances very well the medieval architectures without disturbing its aesthetic (new anti-reflection technologies have overcome this problem, we will see later ).

Stained Glass windows with lead ligature are often made for windows or doors in historic villas, houses or apartment made with a classic style, for which I recommend the use of roundels.

Starting with the same design, Certainly, the cost of a lead ligature might be higher than the Tiffany ligature, but considering what we said, it could really be worth it.

If you are interested on this topic or on the realization of artistic stained glass:

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