Tag Archives: gothic cathedral

Dragons, Gargoyles, and Fairies

Creatures of myth and legend represent the fruits of the imagination, and hearken back to ancient tales told at hearths that kept the wild, unknown fears of the night at bay. Some of those creatures were good, but most were dangerous and best avoided at all costs. They took the form of fierce, scaled beasts, devilish creatures, and other concoctions of frightened minds. Most seem to have been inspired by actual fears of snakes, big cats, and other potentially dangerous animals but a few of the most famous creatures seem to have little relation with known wildlife.

One such creature is the dragon. While serpents do come to mind when speaking of dragons, most depictions of these magical creatures look more like dinosaurs or massive, winged lizards. However, they are much bigger than any lizard, some look rather like a combination of a lizard and a snake, and, in more than a few legends, dragons are highly intelligent, conniving creatures with magical powers. Most are also equipped with their own, personal flamethrower, and, like an evil tyrant, demand tribute from the lands over which they rule.

However, despite tales of dragons and dragon-like beasts in cultures across the globe, those same tales spoke of dragons in the past tense. They were said to be creatures that used to exist but haven’t been seen in a long time. No one knew if they still occurred but they were suspected to persist in remote, wild mountains, vast deserts, and the “wastelands” where few people dared to roam. As such places were explored, no one ever came across a single dragon, and none have ever been found outside the realm of fantasy. That said, the allure of these magical, powerful beasts lingers to this day and we see them in novels, films, and as mesmerizing garden decor like Sword, the Arthurian Dragon Statue.

The gargoyle is another intriguing, magical creature. Like the dragon, this beast is equipped with an array of personal weapons. It has long, sharp claws, a set of fangs, and a fierce, muscled appearance meant to intimidate any who oppose it. Also like the dragon, no one has ever laid eyes on an actual gargoyle other than the ones made of stone that line the ramparts of Gothic cathedrals. Compared to dragons, fewer tales of gargoyles exist, and most would agree that the modern depiction of these strange beasts were invented during the Middle Ages to guard churches against evil spirits while also trying to remind church-goers of the perils that can come from giving way to sin.

Similar to the dragon, nowadays, we see gargoyles in a lot more places than old, French cathedrals. Wickedly fun statues like the Boden Gargoyle Sentinel Statue can be seen accompanying sculptures of angels and other garden statuary in many a backyard, and some gargoyle sculptures also work well as interior Gothic decor. They can also be seen sharing garden space with what might be the most perilous of fantasy-themed creatures, fairies.

Garden fairies like the beautiful Fiona, the Flower Fairy Sculpture are representative of the modern, commonly held, elegant view of these magical creatures. However, before the Victorian era, fairies were never regarded as graceful, cheerful creatures. The old tales that speak of the fairy folk invariably refer to them as either mischievous, easily crossed creatures that should be avoided at all costs, or absolutely dangerous, evil beings that want to harm people. Since far more people swear to have seen and had negative experiences with gnomes and fairies than with dragons or gargoyles, fairies might actually be the most frightening of these three famous legendary creatures.

Discover a wide selection of fantastic, high quality garden statuary and unique decor at Design Toscano.

FAQs About Stained Glass Decor

Art has also functioned as decor throughout history. Much of that decor has taken the form of sculptures and paintings that decorated the halls and plazas of ancient temples and estates. In present times, many of those works of art can be seen in the Louvre and other museums, as well as in Gothic cathedrals. Although the architecture of those old, magnificent structures is impressive on its own, the exterior of those churches are also decorated with beautiful statues of angels, detailed gargoyles, and other works of art. However, we need to enter the cathedral to see the works that were carefully designed to make the biggest impression.

Walk through the entrance to Notre Dame in Paris, or other Gothic cathedrals, and we are greeted by niches with exquisitely carved sculptures, antique paintings, and impressive frescoes. However, no matter how magnificent the angel statues may be, the first things we usually notice are the stained glass windows. This is where light enters the place of worship and as it passes through the glass, it illuminates the windows with vibrant ruby red, deep sapphire blues, and other jewel-like colors. The beautiful effect is both hypnotic and provokes a sentiment of awe. These are the feelings that the people who crafted the stained glass wanted to evoke and the fact that folks continue to be impressed more than a thousand years later is testament to their skills.

Stained glass has continued to be a popular form of decor in modern times, and is still used in the construction of places of worship. It has also become an easy, popular means of lending a classy, exquisite touch to any home. The following are some FAQs about this beautiful type of artistic decor:

How is stained glass made?

Like other types of glass, a good supply of silica is needed along with ovens that can make consistent, high temperatures. After the silica is melted, powdered metal is added to create different types of colors. Copper oxides are used to produce green and blue-green hues, cobalt gives the glass a deep blue color, and in ancient times, gold was used to give glass a red or violet coloration. In modern times, copper is used instead of gold to give the glass a deep red hue, green glass is made with silver and other metals, and manganese and nickel can be used for making purple glass.

After the metals are added to the molten glass, and the glass cools, it is cut into shapes suited to the design that the artist hopes to achieve. These pieces are placed into a lead frame, the joints are soldered into place, and a soft cement is used to weatherproof the window. When the window is ready, it is placed into the window space, and iron or copper rods are sometimes used to support its weight.

When was the first stained glass crafted?

While silica is commonly found in most parts of the globe, in ancient times, ovens that could create sufficiently high temperatures were another story. Nevertheless, examples of colored or stained glass have been found that date back to ancient Egypt and Rome. During the 7th century, stained glass for windows was produced in some parts of Europe and in Syria. However, it didn’t become an art form that showed illustrations until the 10th and 11th centuries.

Stained glass in medieval Europe to the modern era:

During the middle ages, works of art in the form of stained glass were installed in dozens of churches and cathedrals. One of the main centers of stained glass production was in Chartes, France, a medieval town that still sees visitors who come to see the fantastic stained glass in the cathedral.

In modern times, various artists made innovations with stained glass to create more colors and artistic forms, including “Tiffany lamps”. Beautiful stained glass works of art in the form of small windows and other decor also be used inside many homes.

Find the best selection of beautiful stained glass decor for the home at Design Toscano.