Specialty Glass is where we place all the windows that are not categorizable simply as stained, beveled, or combination glass windows. Such items include windows that are: Painted, Silver-Stained, Wheel-cut, Acid Etched, or those made by Belcher Mosaic. Each of these types are described below.
Acid Etched Glass
Acid etching is a chemical process used to create texture and design in glass panels by removing the top surface of specifically selected areas. Victorian period acid etching was done by coating glass with a resistant material such as paraffin, carving out the design with a sharp instrument, and then dissolving the exposed glass areas with hydrofluoric acid. This process was time consuming and extremely hazardous.
Belcher Mosaic Windows
The work of Belcher Mosaic Glass Company was inspired, futuristic, and ahead of its time. Some designs show realistic images of nature, others are pure abstract art. Most of the work was non-symmetrical. The aspect of Belcher work that I appreciate most was their careful use of color-phasing, that is, shading the glass color palette from dark to light, or vice versa, over a span that made for a smooth color transition. What identifies Belcher windows is the tiny pieces, most often triangularly shaped, as well as the absence of lead came to hold the individual pieces in place. The company had a short life in the mid-1880’s. See the glossary for more information.
Glass painting is the original decorative technique for windows. Painting involves a good deal of steps. The earliest paint, a dark brown vitreous enamel, was used for everything from dark lines to the subtle shading of hands and faces. This iron oxide based paint was employed not only to decorate glass, but it served to control amounts of light passage through any given window. With skill and artistry, the use of this single glass paint serves to bring out a whole host of colors. The paint layers are applied with a wide variety of brush choices, then, depending on the effects sought, may be be worked with other tools, some made of bone or horn. The list of techniques seems endless. The painted panes must be fired in a kiln at 1250 degrees Fahrenheit to fuse the enamel to the glass. More...
Silver Stained Glass
Silver compound, usually silver nitrate, which when fused to glass in a kiln produces yellow colors, from pale yellow to deep orange. It is applied to glass on the opposite side from any painted detail and it is usually fired separately. This development is the basis for the term “stained glass.”
This is an incising technique where the surface of any piece of glass is abraded with rotating copper (and sometimes stone) wheels. The operations involve hand holding each piece, so a steady, skilled craftsman is needed. Grooves are cut into the surface, then polished with finer and finer wheels of different materials, along with wet polishing compound, to make brilliant and often intricate patterns.