The House of Stained Glass

An art which sublimates light

On Thursday, February 2nd we met in her workshop Emmanuelle Andrieux, Master Glassmaker who runs the Maison du Vitrail, a family business.

The Maison du Vitrail, "Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant" (EPV), a label granted by the Institut National des Métiers d’Art, restores heritage and creates stained glass windows with exceptional traditional know-how. Surrounded by a team of thirteen craftspersons, Emmanuelle Andrieux and her mother, also a Master Glassmaker, are the only ones authorized to create stained glass windows.

Each project begins with listening and providing advice to customers taking into account their preferences and the particular location of the stained glass window. Then comes the execution of the drawing which is transposed on tracing paper which is then used to make the pattern to cut the glass. The mock-up follows and then the choice of the glass, its texture, thickness, opacity and color...

Originally the glass was tinted before use, with "bottom of bottles" being blown by hand. The use of paint came later. It is made from pigments still used today. After each stroke of paint the stained glass is heated at 630 °. Stained glass exalts the light regardless of its style and design, from gothic to modern, from geometric forms to abstract compositions.

Once the painting is finished, the pieces are assembled. Techniques vary from traditional stained glass set with lead with thick joints to those called "Tiffany" set with copper and tin, materials which do not ensure sealing and are used to make small pieces including jewelry.

For the restoration of a stained glass windows, Madame Andrieux carries out research on each piece and draws on her reserve of used glass (5000 m2 of old and contemporary glass).

At the end of the visit, after warmly thanking our host, we felt that we will be able in the future to bring an more attentive look to the work of the stained glass windows and the light it sublimates. When the project is finished, we plan to visit the dome of the Galeries Lafayette which is now being restored by the Maison du Vitrail at night when the store is closed.

By France Bussière - Unexpected Paris