Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stained glass

At the book signing after my panel at Book Group Expo, a reader asked what made me include the stained glass window. [Don’t worry… no plot spoiler. I’ll talk about it very generally.]

A number of years ago, I came across a newspaper article* discussing conservation of stained glass in European cathedrals. Apparently, the molten glass continues to move, infinitesimally slowly--somewhat like a glacier-- so that hundreds of years down the line, the soldering needs to be conserved. Soldering is the lead outline between the different colors of glass.

I found that idea very compelling, that the seemingly-static images of saints were slowly creeping from their bounds.

I also liked the idea that a medieval glass smith, while unable to know the future of his chemical handiwork, might intuitively guess that the glass still moved.

For my novel, having the subjects depicted in stained glass meant that they could still progress, and this worked for the notion of remembrance and legacy that I was looking for.

*I tried to google this particular article but was unable to locate it.

. . . .


Albert Lewis said...

That stained glass "continues to move" is an urban myth, as charming an idea as that might be. See "Conservation of Stained Glass in America" by Julie L. Sloan at

Erika M said...

Hi Albert,
Thanks for commenting. Not sure what to think... at least for my novel's purposes, it works that a medieval woman would believe that glass continues to move.

Last year's New York Times ran an article, "The Nature of Glass Remains Unclear," which talks about how contentious this subject is.

Erika M said...

The article is actually called "The Nature of Glass Remains Anything But Clear."

Still wish I could find the original article, circa 2001, that talked about a particular cathedral undergoing troubles with conservation.