Now a new exhibition in Glasgow city centre is hoping to change people's perceptions of it as a feature of churches and make them realise it can be used in and around the home, offices, school and factories.
The Compass Gallery will host artist Angela Steel's collection of drawings and paintings, including seven stained glass panels, entitled Tangled Routs.
As part of a wider collection – Knots – art lovers will be able to view the panels, which were inspired by Caldwell House, an early 20th century "children's asylum" in Renfrewshire.
Designed by Scottish architect Robert Adam, Caldwell House was originally built as a country home in 1771, before it was converted into a hospital in 1927 for the treatment of children with mental illnesses.
The hospital closed in 1985 and plans to convert the building into a nursing home failed to get off the ground after the building was burned down 17 years ago.
The glass panels tell the story of a fictional patient, an adolescent girl who imagines a parallel life, connected to the Second World War.
Ms Steel, 41, from Beith, Ayrshire, said: "It's something used often throughout fairytales, a girl on the cusp of womanhood, such as Alice In Wonderland and The Wizard Of Oz.
"There are a lot of changes and a lot of choices."
Ms Steel, a graduate in drawing and painting from Edinburgh College Of Art, has been working with glass since 2001, becoming a member of the Architectural Glass Artists Studio a year later.
She said: "I trained as a painter, so glass is an exciting medium for me to work in.
"In painting you have freedom to do what you want to, but with glass there are limits due to the processes in coming up with drawings, colours and cutting it. It is not something you can change half way through."
Each panel in Tangled Routs has taken a painstaking six weeks each to complete.
Ms Steel said: "You have to build it up slowly, each time you add to it, you have to put it in the kiln, let it cool, take it out and work on it again.
"You can end up doing that 10 times with just one piece of glass.
"These are artworks that are evolving. You don't start it knowing what it is going to look like in the end, you have to be open to it. It's very labour intensive."
She hopes visitors to the gallery exhibition will see glass as an alternative art form.
She said: "People think of stained glass as something in church windows or in the windows of the doors in their house.
"It is difficult for galleries to find a market for people to buy it, so it is quite an amazing thing for Compass to exhibit this collection."
Jill Gerber, director at the Compass Gallery, said: "We always rise to the challenge of showing the unusual and we strive to keep the quality, talent and creativity to the absolute fore.
"We hope everyone will come and see the exhibition."
n The artwork is on show at the gallery at 178 West Regent Street until March 17. the gallery is open Monday-Friday 9.30am-5.30pm. and 10am-5.30pm on Saturday.