We’ve written in the past about the importance of light – both natural and by design – in residential and business interiors. In these cases, light and glass serve a functional purpose. However, let’s not forget the intricate and artistic play that takes place when you combine light, glass and color.

Optimize the Effect Of Glass Art in Your Home

Long before the average home owner could ever consider installing glass panes in their home, let alone glass for artistic purposes, cathedrals used stained glass to depict biblical stories – using the artistry and magnificence of light and color to make depictions come to life. Now, stained glass is readily available and beautiful glass art abounds. Without light, however, that glass art can sit relatively lifeless.

The following tips will help you optimize stained glass and glass art pieces in your home, business or place of worship.

Stained glass relies on light to breath life into it.  Source: Houzz

Stained glass relies on light to breath life into it. Source: Houzz

Building orientation. The same tenets that apply to passive solar design – orienting a building to optimize available sunlight – or diminish it in a hot climate – should be considered when installing stained glass windows or a glass art piece. If natural light is the main source, consider which light would be best – morning light from the east, more flat but consistent light from southern-exposed windows or the warm glow of afternoon and evening light from the west.

Light direction. When it comes to windows, building orientation is important. When it comes to interior installations, the direction of the light is integral to the glass art work’s expression. A glass artist in Portland, Oregon designed these two 220 lb glass panels that flank her fireplace. In order to make their vibrant colors come to life, she designed and installed special wall brackets to hold them in place – leaving a space between the panels and the wall – along with small recessed cans that make the panels glow from within. In this case, the light seems to shine from within.

In a different example, the nature of the artwork – a large, clear glass panel with an imprinted impression – lent itself to being front-lit. By directing light on to the front of the piece – which is also mounted with a gap between the panel and the wall – the impression casts a shadow, adding motion and becomes part of the art itself.

One example of how light vitalizes glass art is in the custom glass panels of this Forest Heights living room with a concrete fireplace.  Source: Houzz

One example of how light vitalizes glass art is in the custom glass panels of this Forest Heights living room with a concrete fireplace. Source: Houzz

Natural light versus manufactured light. In some cases, you may find that natural light is all you need to illuminate glass windows, a vase or to set off a cascade of refracted color from a beautiful work of glass or crystal art. Placing it on the “just right’ table or shelf – one with access to direct sunlight for certain portions of the day – will be enough. You can always install an intentional directional recessed can or adjustable track light to take over after the sun sets.

One example of how light vitalizes glass art is in the custom glass panels of this Forest Heights living room with a concrete fireplace.  Source: Houzz

One example of how light vitalizes glass art is in the custom glass panels of this Forest Heights living room with a concrete fireplace. Source: Houzz

Glass shelves recessed in a wall, or in a wall that is open on two sides, will dramatize the effects of glass, color and light. In most cases, a white backdrop is best.

Start a conversation with Leslie Saul & Associates Architecture and Interiors to begin brainstorming ideas to add beautiful glass art and light to your home, sacred space or office