The “unfamiliar” Ligature


Particolare di una vetrata legata a Tiffany

[Versione Italiana]

When we look at an artistic stained glass, the ligature, which links blown glass tesserae together, is often considered just a series of black lines that define the drawing. But what is hidden behind these black lines showed by the backlight?

On the antique windows, the most used system to link vitreous tiles together was H-shaped lead, which was carefully arranged between the tiles, and then welded (thanks to a tin alloy) forming a solid and durable texture. But the lead alone is not enough to give the correct rigidity to the panel: the artisan inserts between the glass and the lead a plaster made by the union of chalk and cooked linseed oil  (the main ingredients of the different recipes used by every stained glass maker).

This technique has been used for hundreds of years until after the industrial revolution and during the golden era of Belle Epoque, John La Farge and/or Louis Comfort Tiffany invented a new technique (the property of the invention Is debated, but it is now commonly called Tiffany technique) for the realization of artistic stained glass:

Each vitreous tile is “wrapped” along the perimeter with a string of adhesive copper covering for a few millimeters the edge on both surfaces; each tile is placed on the worktop creating the stained glass window that now has small copper rails in place of the lead ligature: on these binaries the artisan casts, thanks to a special welder, the melted pond joining the vitreous tiles; The same procedure is repeated after turning the stained glass window upside down.

The advantage of this technique is certainly the great freedom of design, with the possibility of very narrow curves and the use of very small vitreous tiles. Just think of the beautiful Tiffany lamps or the articulated and sinuous windows of the early twentieth century, which in this case also signed by one of the major exponents in the field of artistic stained glass and mosaics of that period (Tiffany).

PROGETTO ARTE POLI uses this incredible technique, unchanged from 1900 to this days, to create incredible and great artistic stained glass windows with an abstract design, by the artist Albano Poli or recalling a traditional design.

If you don’t see the well defined black joining lines, then the technique used is probably the Collage technique (see article).

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

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