Monday, September 27, 2010

The Technique of Silver Stain

Like many glass techniques, the origins of silver stain are open to scholarly debate. Examples of glass objects in which silver compounds were used for decorative purposes have been attributed to Egypt in 600AD and Persia in 800AD. The route by which the technique traveled to Europe is unclear but in 1243 King Alphonso X of Spain acquired an Arabic manuscript called “Lapidario” which he had translated into Latin. The text found its way to Paris in 1300. The technique of silver stain as we know it first appeared in stained glass windows in Normandy which have been dated to 1313. It’s easy to imagine the popularity of the technique. Before this time glass painters could not change the color of the glass, merely shade it with opaque earth toned pigments. Silver stain allowed them to add passages of yellow to clear glass or green on blue glass without separating these areas with lead lines. 

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