John Piper

Piper’s interest in stained glass began when he was ten years old, when he started to trace the stained glass windows near his home in Surrey and on every family holiday. When he began to design his own stained glass windows, he used

abstraction and colour

to enrich his works.

In his own words, from Stained Glass: Art or Anti-Art:

‘Stained glass is a great leader astray of anyone who works at it – designer and craftsman alike. In terms of colour and form it is eccentric. Colour is abnormally bright, since the light comes through the material instead of being reflected from the surface; tone is usually dictated by bounding leads or area joints of some kind. The whole thing is imprisoned within glazing bars that form an inexorable grid and are structurally necessary. This is its proper splendid discipline.’ 

In the area around Piper’s home at Fawley Bottom, the artist created a series of intimate stained glass windows, reflecting his own spiritualism. Many depict the natural world, a common theme in all of Piper’s work and one of his greatest sources of inspiration.


Personal Reflection & Inspiration

This work was my first introduction to stained glass as something different to the usual things I could see in local churches.


This one was really interesting because the glass is only slightly transparent but the colours are still dramatic and rich, This lead on to a number of experiments using tracing paper as my main medium for print.






I became aware of the way i could work with abstract images through this and some possible overlaps of colour. I achieved the see through look by photographing these on a lightbox but I’m not sure if this looks a bit too much like the Christmas tissue paper decorations you make in primary school.


Pipers more well known style like this in Liverpool Cathedral is more vibrant and really uses the light as part of the piece which is closer to what i want to achieve.


His work at Oundle School has some links with the sort of traditional work i see around me but because the ‘drawing’ style is simplified and with the strong leading there is a less realistic impression. But despite this I think the realistic approach isn’t what I’m aiming for.


Practical Results from this

Using Piper’s simple style I began some digital sketches just to see how I could create interesting images with geometric shapes. I began to feel that using certain shapes that have a sort of flavour of churches particularly the modern style ones makes the work interesting and aesthetically pleasing. The long portrait oblongs and ovals I think work well as they suggest glass due to the shape of mirrors and windows.

I’ve been trying out both borders like in stained glass and colours meeting up which I will probably get when I paint glass myself.

I like the lighter grey borders because I don’t think I’ll be able to do lead and the grey is less obvious that the darker versions

Colour scheme for shapes

I then used my designs and embedded them into existing photos, to show how the designs would be seen to the public eye such as in building. Some of these designs was just experimental digital designs and will not be hand crafted on stained glass.Stained glass on windows

As I’ve chosen stained glass as a focus point, I proceed to use my designs to create stained glass using  resources.

Displayed below are various Stained glass I produced both small scale and A4 size.


For my colour pallets I  used a bright colour scheme mostly primary colours (Red,Blue, yellow) as theses are vibrant and more effective for stained glass as it comes through more transparent and visually more appealing.

I used geometric techniques in my designs both digitally and hand rendered stained glass.

After both primary and secondary research, focusing on stained glass usage in churches (not geometric) and as stained glass crafted and designed in the Stourbridge glass cone.



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