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STREET TREATS & HIDDEN TREASURES: LOWELL'S RESIDENTIAL FANCY GLASS
 
removed their examples.  Remodeling and updating their domiciles was a luxury that few Lowellians could then afford.  Thus, Lowell's economic depression reaped aesthetic benefits, with fancy glass and other architectural delights that have survived and been preserved.

TRADITIONS AND TECHNIQUES OF STAINED GLASS
The fancy glass found in American homes has its roots in European cathedrals.  The European stained glass tradition dates from about 1000 A.D.  Glass was crafted by hand in a limited range of primary colors.  Crude fabrication caused blemishes and irregularities that actually enhanced light refraction.  Mouth-blown glass, called "pot metal," is still made today and known as "antique" glass.  The colors are crisp and the surface hard and bright.

     Medieval glass artisans discovered that silver nitrate could embellish their work.  This "silver stain" is applied as an opaque liquid but becomes yellow-orange when fired.  Like vitreous oxides, silver stain fuses to the surface of the glass and is not absorbed.  It is from this decorative technique that the term "stained glass" evolved.  By the 1600s, glass artists also used bright, multi-colored enamel paints.  In the early 1800s mosaic windows were superceded by large pictorial compositions done on single sheets of glass.

     Colored glass is painstakingly cut into small pieces and arranged into mosaic patterns on top of a full size charcoal drawing or "cartoon."  The small glass pieces are then fired in a kiln so that the vitreous paints became permanently fused to the surface.  Next, the mosaic is "leaded up" by setting the glass within a network of lead strips called "cames" which are then soldered together.

DECORATIVE TRADITIONS IN AMERICAN ARCHITECTURAL GLASS
In the 17th century, as America was being colonized Europe was undergoing political and religious 
turmoil.  European stained glass art was also in steep decline.  Thus, as new settlers arrived in America, many of whom brought strong religious faiths and traditions, they did not bring along any desire for ecclesiastical decoration. The Puritans who settled Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1630's were particularly averse to any embellishment in their Meeting Houses.  Such decoration was a reminder to them of Roman Catholicism or of the Anglican cathedrals that represented the hierarchical faiths from which they had fled.
 


  

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