I originally called this page "Oriel" as a play on words - in architecture, an oriel is an old word for a projecting bay window on an upper storey or sometimes a recess for an altar in an oratory or small chapel. It can also mean a small gallery on an upper floor. The Welsh word for gallery is Oriel, and in Wales, small art galleries are often called Oriel with the intent on being both a gallery and opening a window to new experiences, so my naming this collection of windows and obligatory lecture on window production through the ages "Oriel" is a play on all of these meanings.
"Stained Glass" is a catch-all term to define windows which have some kind of coloured glass or painted pattern in their design.

There are three main methods of colouring glass. Some stained glass is painted with opaque enamels to define a border and/or translucent pigments for background details. If the design is figurative, painting with both opaque & translucent pigments is done once the window pieces have been cut into shape and assembled to add realistic details to faces, hands, and clothing.

Secondly, glass is cut into shape first and then painted all over on one or both sides with translucent pigment. Thirdly, stained glass is coloured either during manufacture or after and then cut into shape. Sadly, the recipes for many of the natural dyes used in the mediæval process of staining glass have been lost over the centuries, and repairing or replacing damaged glass is sometimes very difficult indeed.
Stained Glass windows are made today in much the same way as they have always been made. The design is drawn onto paper first, the individual glass components are prepared - cut, shaped, and painted where necessary - and then the window is assembled using the drawing as a template. These days, instead of a drawing, a light table is often used instead to view the window exactly as it will be assembled.
Once satisfied, the fabricator begins by stretching an "H" channel strip of lead (called a "came") then places it on the assembly drawing along one outside edge of the window. The first glass piece is positioned and temporarily held with a tack. Another lead strip is cut, shaped and positioned, then the second, adjoining glass piece is arranged into the assembly. This operation continues until every component is in place. The final step in the assembly process is to solder the lead strips together at each joint to hold the stained glass window together.

Three modern full wall stained glass block windows

Fully tileable alone or with each other, the design on these modern windows was based on a staggeringly expensive one I saw some time ago at a stained glass showroom (don't I get to go to some REALLY exotic places?). The glass is opaque and although it lets plenty of light into your sim homes or malls, it also provides total privacy for those inside.

Three modern full wall stained glass framed windows

Fully tileable alone or with each other, this is a less extreme version of the one above. The glass is translucent and rather than being glass blocks, these windows have frames.

It is sometimes said that glass in very old churches is thicker at the bottom than at the top because glass is a liquid, and so over several centuries it has flowed towards the bottom. This is a lovely and tempting idea, but sadly, it does seem to be an urban legend, and a widely spread one at that.

Even the normally thoroughly researched Bill Bryson in his excellent latest book "A Short History of Nearly Everything" recounts this theory. I still recommend it as an excellent read though :o)

To answer this question we have to understand something of the thermodynamic and material properties of glass, and you will undoubtedly be relieved that I do not pretend to know anything about this subject at all, though not for want of reading plenty about it while researching this topic. What I have come to understand is that there is still much about the molecular physics and thermodynamics of glass that is not well understood, and an excellent and fairly readable general account on why this is can be found here.

Basically, opinion on this is divided in the scientific community, and some still theorise that glass is a common example of an Amorphous Solid - a solid with no overall crystal structure. Glass forms no crystal matrix and molecules simply stick in random orientations. You can see this by the random cracks that form in glass; if it were a crystal, the fractures would form along the edges of the crystal formations. However, even those who adhere to this theory admit that this property is particularly strange, because glass is made up of silicon dioxide which normally would form a networked solid.

To summarise in an extremely simplistic way (honestly!), there is a widespread opinion that glass is a super-cooled liquid and therefore has an extremely slow but finite viscosity (flow) at ordinary ambient temperatures.

However, it has been proven that although glass resembles a liquid in having a short-range order of molecules without a long-range order, it also differs in that the entire molecular network is rigid as it is in a solid, whereas in a liquid enough energy is available to break and reform molecular bonds continuously.


It is therefore sometimes said that because of this, glass is neither a liquid nor a solid but a category of its own because it has a distinctly different structure with properties of both liquids and solids. This theory can be summarised by saying that there are four main types of molecular arrangement:
  • solids: molecules are ordered in a regular lattice network.
  • liquids: molecules are disordered and are not rigidly bound.
  • glasses: molecules are disordered but are rigidly bound.
  • gases: molecules are widely separated, and the attraction between them is small.

Two stained glass stone framed windows - "War & Peace"

These two windows are based on part of the Medieval Set from Marina's Sims.

The window on the left features dramatisations from the lives of the warriors St Michael (also known as The Archangel Michael) and St Joan (also known as Joan of Arc), while the window on the right is a modern depiction of the landscape as nature with the Dove of Peace as a guardian.

While some antique windowpanes are indeed significantly thicker at the bottom, there are no statistical studies to show that all or most of them are thicker at the bottom than at the top.

Sadly, and far more mundanely, the variations in thickness of antique windowpanes would therefore seem to have nothing to do with whether glass is a solid or a liquid; having rather more to do with the manufacturing process used at the time which made the production of glass panes of constant thickness quite difficult - we will look at this in a moment.

There are also two other factors to be taken into consideration as to the phenomenon of antique glass being thicker at the bottom than the top. Firstly, the thicker the glass pieces, the less fragile they are and more likely to have survived the rigours of the turbulent centuries of castles, churches, monasteries & cathedrals than finer, more fragile glass would. Secondly, some records show that the window artisans of the time often carefully chose pieces of glass for their ability to reflect & diffuse bright natural light and depth of colour. The thicker the glass, the deeper colour the diffused light would be and therefore the more desirable especially for windows set at a great height showing pictures & stories for teaching or meditating upon.

In Mediæval times panes of glass were mostly made by the Crown glass process. A lump of molten glass was rolled, gathered on a blowpipe, and a balloon shape was blown. A solid rod was attached and the balloon of glass was expanded, flattened and finally spun rapidly until a disc was formed. The outer portion beyond the central attachment was then cut into panes. These discs of glass were often thicker towards the edge and the cut glass panes were usually installed with the heavier side at the bottom. The whirled centre of the disc was either sold off cheaply or thrown away; it was often used for installation in the doors and windows of alehouses because of its extreme durability.
French glassmakers produced Crown glass for the first time at Rouen around 1330, and some French Crown and other types were imported into the UK. In 1678 Crown glass was first produced in London & because of its finer quality, this process predominated until the mid nineteenth century.

Two large windows based on this picture :

They have an inside as well as an outside view and come complete with their own vitrages and self-watering flowerboxes.

I thought I would try something different with my newly found skills at A channels & Z buffers, and the result is this band of three casement windows. It is one large window, cloned from the corporate plate glass one, but I tried to make it look as much like the band of casements in the lovely picture I recently obtained in a job-lot licence as I could. I have included a plain glass version as well as the coloured glass one as a contrast.

"Vitrages"? "A band of casements"? Bunny Wuffles, what ARE you talking about? OK, I'll tell you. Did you really expect I wouldn't? :o)

Surrounds on the inside of a door or window usually made from lengths of timber.
One of a horizontal series of three windows or more that form a horizontal band across the facade of a building. Most commonly found in buildings erected after 1900.
Bay Window A composite of three or more windows, usually made up of a large center unit and two flanking units at 30- or 45-degree angles to the wall. Can also be a 90 degree bay.
Casement A window sash that opens on hinges at the sides.
Casing An exposed trim moulding, framing, or lining around a door or window which may be either flat or moulded. Windows using this kind of frame are known as Casement.
Clerestory A wall of a room or of a building that rises above the roof and contains windows.
Dormer Windows Windows that rise above a roof but have a roof of their own.
Fanlight A semicircular window often placed above a door or another window.
Fenestration The arrangement and design of windows & doors in a building. Defenestration is the act of throwing someone or something out of a window!
Mullion The wooden vertical sections of a window between glazed areas.
Muntin A strip separating panes of glass in a sash.
Pane A piece of glass in a window.
Sash The framework of a window in which panes of glass are set.
Sidelight Windows to the side or at both sides of a door.
Transom A horizontal window above a door or a horizontal crossbar in a window or between a door and a window.
Vitrage A curtain of light and translucent material intended to be secured directly to the woodwork of a French casement window or a glazed door.



Three "leaded lights" windows with deep sill and three matching raised sash windows

Two of each even come with plants which will never need watering - how's THAT for service.

Six stained glass "leaded lights" French style windows

Three of each window are the same design but with different transparancies - one is almost completely clear, one is completely opaque for privacy and the third one is somewhere inbetween.

Use all three together, choose the ones you like, discard the others - it's up to you but I like to use different opacities for different rooms in the same house, and sometimes even together like in the screenshots - it gives a certain feeling of depth.
Three stained glass "leaded lights" windows with plants and three matching sash windows.
The balconette cage on the windows is larger than normal to accomodate lots of flowers & plants, which can only just be seen from the inside through the almost completely opaque windows, and though three windows have their sash raised halfway, no burglar will ever climb through.





Five traditional stained glass "leaded lights" windows


I have used one of the lovely window bases from Mermaid Cove for these windows - if you haven't seen them yet, you must go over there to get Hairfish's collection of new shaped window styles!

Five more traditional "leaded lights" windows


Again, I have used one of the lovely new window bases from Mermaid Cove for these windows - if you haven't seen them yet, go now!

The first metal windows were made from wrought iron by mediæval blacksmiths. These simple frames were glazed with either stained glass or clear leaded lights, and were mostly used for ecclesiastical buildings and major country houses whose owners were among the few people who could afford them.
At this time, leaded lights - "leaded lights" at that time being the word for all window glass, not just coloured glass - were also installed direct to masonry or wood, and secured with copper wires to vertically or horizontally fixed metal bars known as "ferramenta" or "saddle bars".

The Victorian passion for all things mediæval revived gothic architecture & mass production made ornamentation cheap so builders added decorative styles from pattern books without hesitation. Even the smallest & most humble terraced or back-to-back houses had at least one window decorated with leaded lights; usually built into the front door, transom or fanlight. By this time, the term "leaded lights" was used solely to describe windows containing some or all coloured glass separated with lead strips - much as it is today.

Some pattern books were very elaborate, such as Owen Jones' "Grammar of Ornament" - of which you will read more about in the Urban Textural Archive, but other pattern books were quite workaday - but economical.

The first set of "leaded light windows" above uses a design from a common pattern book style of a heavily stylised candle. The coloured glass is more translucent (see-through) than the white glass, giving a textured feel to the light coming through. Another common pattern book style was that of four diamond shapes tessalated to make one larger diamond shape, which I used in the second set above. I have also used a slightly different texture for the coloured glass, which is also more translucent than before.

Three "Mayerling" windows

The murder/suicide of Crown Prince Rudolf Habsburg, the son of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth of Austria, and the beautiful young Baroness Mary Vetsera on January 30 1889 at the royal hunting lodge in Mayerling, just outside Vienna, was a mystery then, and to a large degree has remained a mystery to this day. The deeply romantic tale has inspired many artworks in the forms of ballet, opera, painting and books.

On a visit there during my honeymoon trip to Vienna, I took some pictures of the stained glass (naturally - would you expect anything less of me?) which I have siminised into these three window frames from Marina's Sims. One has a deep sill with some plants and a book on, the second has a deep sill with nothing on and the third has a shallow sill. Together, I think they give a feeling of depth and thick walls. You can of course use them however you like - and if you don't like them all, feel free to delete the ones you don't want :o)

Book image on deep window is from Vicarious Living (now sadly closed but POBSable at N99) where you could find lots of bits 'n' pieces like this to turn your sim house into a sim home.

Full wall tileable stone framed windows

This is a set of three windows - the large one on the upper floor and the two single tile ones on the lower floor (one shown twice in the screenshot). All are fully tileable with each other or themselves. You have no idea how long and hard I struggled with the Z buffers to get the large one perfect - and in fact, in the smallest zoom the Z still isn't quite right so this comes with my apologies, but as the medium and large zooms are fine I thought you wouldn't mind too much :o)

The stone frame images are taken from some of the Medieval Set windows again from Marina's Sims only I enlarged and joined some of them together to fit the whole wall and added the stained glass.

I have to say, I am so very proud of the top window - I have never spent so long* on an object getting it "just right" and have learnt many skills in A and Z channels doing so. As you would expect, over at the Bunny Wuffles School of Sims Transmogrification, I have now put up a couple of tutorials based on my findings and experience!




*ok, I'll tell you. Over three days I spent well over 15 hours on the z buffers alone - most of those on the nearest tile piece. I must be mad. With my tutorials, you need not even spend ten hours. Or five.


The zips on these page may contain a number of different items. Unzip to a temporary storage folder, and you must move the files accordingly as below:

    • Files ending in .iff to C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\GameData\UserObjects

If you would like to redesign or recolor objects from Oriel - A Window Gallery, please provide credit on your site and in the object description with a link back to us. Most recolours here are from base items from sites participating in the Recolourers Resource Project, but where I have had specific permission for an item to be cloned for this set, you will need to ask the same permissions from the original designer - these are as follows:

  • None at present!

All links to the original site where I have made the recolour from are given. See notes on home page.