What is Stained Glass?

     "Stained glass" can mean colored, painted or enameled glass, or glass 
tinted with true glass "stains." In this Brief the term refers to both colored 
and painted glass. "Leaded glass" refers generically to all glass assemblies 
held in place by lead, copper, or zinc cames. Because the construction, 
protection, and repair techniques of leaded glass units are similar, whether 
the glass itself is colored or clear, "stained glass" and "leaded glass" are 
used interchangeably throughout the text.

     Glass is a highly versatile medium. In its molten state, it can be spun, 
blown, rolled, cast in any shape, and given any color. Once cooled, it can be 
polished, beveled, chipped, etched, engraved, or painted. Of all the 
decorative effects possible with glass, however, none is more impressive than 
"stained glass." Since the days of ancient Rome, stained glass in windows and 
other building elements has shaped and colored light in infinite ways.

     Stained and leaded glass can be found throughout America in a dazzling 
variety of colors, patterns, and textures. It appears in windows, doors, 
ceilings, fanlights, sidelights, light fixtures, and other glazed features 
found in historic buildings. It appears in all building types and architectural
styles-embellishing the light in a great cathedral, or adding a touch of 
decoration to the smallest row house or bungalow. A number of notable churches,
large mansions, civic buildings, and other prominent buildings boast windows or
ceilings made of stained glass, but stained or leaded glass also appears as a 
prominent feature in great numbers of houses built between the Civil War and 
the Great Depression.