Interesting Painted glass for Corpus Christi Church

A renovation of this interesting 1950’s Church in Oxford led to the commissioning of some painted glass in the Choir Loft at the back of the Church. Illustrator Robert Eyles approached me in early 2022 to talk about the project which involved a number of improvements to the church. The new glass was to give figurative presence to Saint Margaret and Saint Alphonsus, there was also to be an illustration of the “Pelican in her Piety” an ancient Christian symbol of self sacrifice.

The size of the individual pieces of painted glass are what make this interesting as lead ‘came’ is usually used to separate smaller pieces of painted glass. With modern glass paints we are now able to paint more colours onto glass than was possible in the past so we can now use ‘float glass’ as a base instead of coloured glass in projects such as this one.

An interesting fact worth noting is that the term ‘Stained Glass’, which is now used ubiquitously to cover almost any decorative glass technique, derives from just one technique : ‘silver staining’. The single technique of applying silver nitrate in the form of powder mixed with water and painted onto the glass, turns the glass yellow after firing in the kiln at 630’C. The technique travelled from the east and arrived in Europe when leaded windows were becoming popular in churches in the 14th century and the term Stained Glass stuck. You can see the technique being used in these pictures, the opaque orange is actually a medium in which the silver nitrate compound is suspended, the medium is wiped off the surface of the glass after firing, the silver ions having been absorbed into the glass permanently, changing it to a transparent yellow.

Another interesting addition to this glass design was the use of Verré Eglomisé, a French technique of applying gold or silver leaf to glass, often to make mirrors but in this case to create halo’s. 24ct Gold leaf was also used in other areas of the church so the new windows work well in this sensitively renovated space.

Web link to : Robert Eyles

Web link to : Corpus Christi Church, Oxford