The number one thing I love about glass has to be the colors. There is nothing like the deep rich color of a piece of cobalt blue waterglass. And that color changes, depending on the light, depending on whether the glass is against an opaque background or a window and depending on the other colors that are used in the piece.
In some ways, stained glass is very inflexible medium. Not only does glass break not bend, but there is also little (but not nothing) that I can do to change the color of the glass. Imagine you had a set of paints where you could only use the colors exactly as they came out of the tube – that’s a little bit what working with stained glass is like.
Strangely enough, this inflexibility is one of the things that I love about stained glass. When I’m creating objects, I can spend my time matching and creating color combinations without having to worry about mixing the perfect color. (Yes, I was the child in elementary school whose paint set was always muddy brown from trying to mix reds with greens.)
I also think that the rigidity of stained glass as medium has caused me to be more creative. That rigidity has forced me to bring in other materials to complement the glass and to add fluidity where it might otherwise be missing.
With stained glass, changing the color of the glass is more about influencing the color than it is about truly changing it. Some colors will shift their tone depending on the other colors that are used with them. A technique known as “plating” can also be used, where different colors and textures of glass are layered to create subtle changes. This is the technique Tiffany invented and used to give his windows such amazing depth of color.
The other thing I love about working with stained glass is the ability to work in both 2 or 3 dimensions. While many people think of stained glass as suncatchers, windows and lamps but stained glass can be used to create classic geometric forms or even elaborate sculptures. Even at the small scale I usually work at, there is something satisfying about changing a flat piece of glass into a three dimensional object.