Colours in Stained Glass and Computers
and the Limitations Thereof

Glass is a exciting and complex medium for art. Glass changes with different lighting. It has depth. Many of the most beautiful art glasses contain multiple colours crossing over each other forming patterns of colour and light. Some glasses have a textures creating additional interest in the glass. The colours the eye sees change constantly.

This makes art created from glass vibrantly beautiful and alive. However it also creates limitations.

  • The look of glass can never be exactly reproduced through any other media.The colours in a final window will never look exactly like the original design.
  • Glass comes in a limited pallet of colours.

A stained glass piece is very difficult and costly to change once it has been constructed. Changing the colour on a finished piece essentially requires rebuilding the entire piece. The client must read, understand and agree to the following before commissioning an art work made in stained glass.

  • Approval of glass choices and colours for a piece, whether from descriptions, a computer design with simulated glass, or actual glass samples, is final. Once a stained glass artwork has reached a significant stage of construction, the client may not alter glass choices unless agreed to by myself in writing.
  • Glass can not be "matched" to a particular fabric or paint swatch. The client may provide me with example colours and I as an artist will make every effort to choose glass which complements these colours or fits within an overall colour scheme. However, I can not guarantee exact colour matching.
  • Any changes requested after a stained glass piece is complete will result in additional costs to cover the time and effort of rebuilding the window, new glass purchases, etc. The client must agree to pay these additional costs before any changes will take place.
More information about colours, computers and how this effects the stained glass design process follows:

The stained glass in computer-aided designs is at best a simulation of how the actual glass will look. I make every effort to get the simulation to appear close to how the final window will look. However, the design will never look identical to the finished window. For examples of how computer aided designs look in comparison with the completed windows have a look at: Sun Wave, Mountain Ash, Gillies Bay and Irises.

The look of stained glass changes with different lighting and viewing angles. See: Vine Maple Door, Crooked Fir #2 - Moon, Iridescent Dragonfly and Iridescent Damselfly. Especially note the extreme example of the Iridescent Damselfly where the perceived colours changes drastically with a change in lighting.

There are strong limitations to how well computers can display glass colours. The colour I see on my computer monitor or printer is not necessarily the same as what you see on yours. For a great description of colour on computers, see the Color Matters web pages. The same site also has a lot of other information about color.

Even when viewing samples of the actual glass, there may be differences. As noted on the Spectrum Glass web site:

We make every effort to grade each sample so that it is reasonably representative of a product’s color, mix characteristics and light transmission. However, in some glass types, it is impossible to fairly represent the appearance of a large piece in a small sample.

In the final analysis no matter what is used to approve the glass ahead of time it will be imperfect. In the end you will need to trust that I as an experienced stained glass artist will know how a piece will look when finished. I promise I will create the best looking stained glass possible for you.

Thank you, Timothy Atwood