As part of its $28 million expansion plan, the Church of the Incarnation in Uptown Dallas recently installed a 19-foot stained glass window that traveled across the ocean from the Canterbury Cathedral Stained Glass Studios in the United Kingdom.
The glistening electric blue background of window catches the eyes of the congregation. It's a striking centerpiece in the church's Ascension Chapel, with its high ceilings and and grand stone Gothic arches.
Here are five fascinating things about the Church of the Incarnation's new addition.
1. It took thousands of hours to make.
Yes, thousands. The production of the glass started back in 2005, but Canterbury Cathedral Studios didn’t actually start cutting glass up until two years ago. There were lengthy conversations on every detail — from the window's colors to its theological framework and style.
2. It has a pop art aesthetic.
Stained glass windows were originally used as a storytelling tool for the illiterate population to understand stories from the Bible. The characters in the stories told on the window in the Ascension Chapel are painted in quick brush strokes, giving the piece a graphic novel feel. The window tells stories from the New Testament bordered with stories from the Old Testament. The window's bold colors and thick lines bring a pop art aesthetic to this medieval medium.
3. The glaziers used 13th century techniques.
Church of the Incarnation clergy wanted to pay homage to the original 800-year-old Redemption window of the actual Canterbury Cathedral. This meant that the glaziers needed to use the same techniques that were used in the 13th century to keep it authentic. Studio director Leonie Seliger says, “We had to have the glass specially mouth blown by specialists in Germany that still make glass in a medieval fashion.” These traditional methods also meant creating glass sheets with minor imperfections of color and thickness.
4. The right shade of red was hard to make.
Getting the colors right for this specific window presented a challenge for the artists, especially with the color red. Since the church wanted to have the same kind of coloring made back in the 13th century, the artists faced a wall when trying to get the red right. Back in medieval times, colors weren’t made with pigment; they were made with metals. The color red was made with copper, but it was difficult to make and the formula was lost. But Canterbury Cathedral Studios reached out to an American professor who studied this and figured out how the specific red was made, giving the window a one-of-a-kind color.
5. It's a 21-century version of an authentic European cathedral window.
Windows that are 800 years old have suffered a lot. Oxidization, iconoclasm (where faces were vandalized because of fear of idolatry) and poor restoration have made it hard to preserve them. Bishop Tony Burton, rector of the church, says there’s one place in the world where you can see what the windows of a European cathedral looked like the very day they were installed. And that’s the Church of The Incarnation in Dallas.