Tiffany and the glass passion

The technique we today call "Tiffany" basically consists of connecting glass pieces by welded metal, to form a mosaic of some sort. Those can be of all shapes and sizes, most often they are lamps and stained-glass windows. The technique is well suited for small to medium-sized objects. A different technique is required for large stained-glass windows (“vitrails”), made with more robust material. But the principle technique is similar.

The stained-glass window's historical origin remains quite mysterious to this day. Glass pieces from around 7000 B.C. were discovered in the Middle-East. It seems that at some point between 3000 and 1500 B.C., Egyptian craftsmen developed a reliable way of glassmaking.

Since the beginning of the millenium, the art of window craft has evolved considerably; for a long time it was reserved to religious art, for it was a firm belief that any light shining through a window was a source of divine illumation. A wave of destruction came with the 17th and 18th centuries, and many windows were demolished by Protestants and fundamentalists who were against Christian iconography, and so the demand for glass literally vanished.

At the dawn of the 19th century, Europe again got interested in windows. The making of colored glass, almost a lost art, was reborn, and soon antique glass was produced again. Meanwhile, in the U.S.A., many workshops were experimenting with new types of colored glass. Two american glass-makers, John La Farge and Louis Comfort Tiffany, developed a kind of glass called "opalescent", which differed from European glass by its translucent nature. In the 20th century, Art nouveau which spread across Europe and North America gave great momentum to the stained-glass industry. The lamps made by (amongst others) L.C. Tiffany Company then contributed to stained-glass arts' growing popularity, introducing it into homes, offices and buildings.