Lighting Tips for Stained Glass

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A stained glass window displayed in St. Andrew's Catholic Church, Honolulu, HI.

Associated with churches, stained glass has its place in the home, as well. The tints of the glass change white light into a rainbow of color. The placement of a stained glass window or panel plays an important factor in the effect of the glass. In the absence of a window for natural light, proper artificial lighting allows the stained glass to contribute to the overall décor of a room.


Placement of the Stained Glass

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Stained glass windows paint a rainbow of colors on the opposite wall.

Place stained glass in a window that receives the most sunlight. Absent a sunlit window, the stained glass can play a role as an interior room divider where the glass obscures views of other portions of the area. Used for this manner, artificial light devoted to the glass is not necessary. Provide lighting behind a stained glass window placed in a ceiling dome to create the illusion of a skylight. This also enhances the mood of the room beneath.


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Natural Lighting for Stained Glass

Stained glass installed in a window uses the sun for natural lighting.

Achieve the best results from stained glass windows by installing them in windows which provide natural sunlight through the glass panels. Skylights also allow for natural sunlight to filter through the stained glass to the room below. Best results from stained glass require changing daylight with the brightest daylight at 100,000 footcandles. This brightness typically allows 50 to 100 footcandles of light inside the room.


Artificial Lighting for Stained Glass

Use a light box similar to one used to read x-rays for displaying stained glass.

Place stained glass windows or panels in front of an artificial light box if a window for display is unavailable. A light bulb placed behind the stained glass piece with an opaque panel between them allows the light to softly filter through the glass. The colors of the stained glass come through. A cloth or opaque panel prevents one from seeing the light bulb or lamp behind the stained glass. Avoid gas discharge light bulbs when artificially lighting stained glass. These do not properly show the colors of the glass. When possible, opt for natural daylight rather than artificial lighting. See resource for instructions on how to build a light box to display stained glass.



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