The problem of choosing the right colors for stained-glass compositions 1/2

by adrien

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The glass-blowers at Glasshütte Lamberts (Waldsassen, Germany) are working every week-day between 4AM and 10AM, that’s a tradition, they said…

Last summer, I was on a trip to Waldsassen, Germany – next to the Czech Republic border – at the Glasshütte Lamberts factory. It is one of the few remaining factories in Europe where colored glass sheets for stained-glass are produced in a traditional way. Mouth-blown glass is made every week days by several teams of workers. First shaped as long bottles, the glass is recooked in a secondary step to be flattened into sheets of 0.54 m².

I went there to choose the colors that I want to use for the stained-glass project that I am working on. In the “standard” catalogue, Glasshütte Lamberts has a bit more than 250 references. But in the factory, there is much more: around 5000 different glass, the “non-standards”, which I came to see.

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A part of the factory where 5000 different series of glass sheets are stored, every series being unique, and the office of color-expert and Sales Director Manfred Mislik, where we had a talk about colors.

Since I started to get in touvh with people in the stained-glass world several professionals asked me how I will choose the colors. I heard that working with glass is always a challenging experience and that for many artists, it was a difficult or even painful experience, either because there are too many possibilities, or because the appearance of the glass, its transparency, was too different from the logic of for example, painting.

When I got there I had a strategy: I came with a spectrophotometer and a light box that I built a few days before. In the office, I made 312 spectral measurements : all the standard catalogue, plus 75 “non-standard” colors that I picked up in the room, especially the very intense types: Plated deep Reds, Selenium Reds, Oranges, Yellows, and Gold-based Pinks.


One of the several trials at making gradients from deep Red to Yellow (imitating the Cadmium pigments series with Selenium glass)

Thanks to the spectral measurements I made, I could build a colorimetric database. I only had to get the spectrum of the LEDs that I will use in the installation to calculate the colorimetric coordinates of every single glass. It is necessary to have the spectrum of the light source that will illuminate the glass to be able to calculate the colors of the glass in a simulation, because these colors vary depending on the light that lights them up. I got the needed emission spectrum from the LEDs manufacturer :

nichia 5000K

The emission electromagnetic spectrum of the LEDs that I will use in the metro station to illuminate the stained-glass from behind.

All of this (the trip, the selection, the spectral measurements and the spectrum of the light source) were necessary pre-requisite steps to be able to start working.

The next steps will be discussed in a future post