materials, those used in stained glass do deteriorate. When a window
requires releading, these are the steps recommended by national
and international standards and guidelines, which Gerry and Jill employ
in their studio.
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INSPECTION AND CONDITION REPORT
condition of the window is established. The window is inspected
for structural stability. Is the window buckled? Have the leads
fatigued? Have the solder joins broken? Have the tie wires separated
from the reinforcing bars? Has the putty fallen out allowing the
window to leak? In a stained glass window the stability of the
glass paints is established to ensure that the restoration process
is not going to remove or endanger the painted art work.
condition report is written along with annotated photographs.
The photographs should be particularly clear and detailed as
they reveal to the custodian the condition of the windows before
work commences. The custodian can then use this preliminary record
in the event that the restorer has used any practices which damage,
remove the glass paints, or alter the windows in any way during
the restoration. A preliminary condition report is the vital
first step in a restoration.
report is presented to the custodian along with priorities of
works, and estimated costs.
window is removed from its surrounds. Sometimes when hard mortars
have been used in stone set windows this process is slow and
difficult. Removing windows from wooden frames can be comparatively
window is removed and taken to the restoring studio.
the better lighting conditions of the restoration studio the window
is inspected under a magnifying lens. This is done to confirm observations
during the original on-site inspection, and to see if any existing
defects in the window can be remedied by using better materials
or improved reinforcing systems.
window is dismantled. The old leads are recycled, after specimen
leads have been labelled and stored. At this stage the window is
reduced to its component glass pieces.
large restorations there may be several thousand pieces of glass,
which require a methodical and exacting approach to ensure all
the pieces remain in their correct position.
this photograph the removed pieces are placed in order on the
bench in the background.
CLEANING – REMOVAL
the glass is removed from the leads, old putty is still stuck to
the front, back and edge of the glass. This putty is very carefully
removed by the slow, exacting and tedious method of scraping it
off with a blade from every one of the hundreds or thousands of
pieces of glass. This is to ensure that the glass, and particularly
the glass paint, is not damaged.
effective” methods such as ”dipping” (a trade
euphemism for soaking in a bath) the window in caustic soda to
remove the putty are universally condemned as the caustic soda
also attacks and removes or damages the glass paints. Custodians
who employ studios who use “dipping” to save money
have probably irredeemably ruined their stained glass window.
CLEANING – DIRT FROM
dust, grime and soot accumulates on the surface of windows
it obviously dulls the amount of light coming through the
glass. It also has a more deleterious effect because moisture
is attracted to the dirt, which, in turn, can accelerate
the deterioration of the glass paints. Great skill and
care is required particularly in cleaning the paints in
stained glass windows. The principal method is the use
of de-ionised water applied with cotton swabs and done
on a light box.
glass is frequently inspected under a magnifying lens to
ensure no damage is being done to the glass paints.
photograph shows an experimental clean of an area of dirt
from an 1870s John Hardman (UK) stained glass window in
ORIGINAL DAMAGED GLASS
possible, the original glass is retained.
is particularly important in stained glass windows where the
original studio’s painters have used an idiosyncratic style,
which is difficult to reproduce.
image shows a broken piece that has been cleaned and edge glued
using conservation grade epoxy resin. There is a new piece of
glass which has been painted and stained to match the 16th century
glass painting techniques used in the window. It has been edge
glued to the original glass in the shoe.
LOST OR SHATTERED GLASS PIECES
it is not possible to retain damaged glass.
these instances Gerry and Jill have a wide range of (sometimes
out of production) glass paints, stains and enamels, painting
mediums, and traditional glass painting brushes which allows
them to faithfully reproduce the colours and painting styles
used by the original studio. Sometimes this requires using rare
centuries old glass painting techniques.
of Gerry and Jill’s Churchill Fellowship Stained Glass
Restoration tour of the US, UK and France was to learn these “long
photograph shows repainting a broken 1920s face in their studio.
The new face on the right has had only two of the seven layers
of glass paint required to faithfully reproduce the process and
style used by the original studio.
the glass pieces cleaned of putty and dirt, the broken pieces re-glued,
and any lost or shattered pieces repainted, the window can now
be releaded. Exactly the same sized lead profiles as were used
by the original studio are used as these form an integral part
of the aesthetic of the window. Rare or unusual leading techniques
used by the original studio are noted before dismantling, and are
and Jill use specially alloyed leads, which comply with international
standards and guidelines. These leads prevent premature breakdown
and buckling. A releaded window should last for a century or
more before needing its next restoration.
European Gothic windows have been releaded many times, and large
cathedrals have their own stained glass conservation and restoration
the window has been releaded, a proprietary brand linseed oil putty
is forced into the space between the edge of the glass and the
leaf of the H section of the lead. This both waterproofs and stiffens
the window. It is critically important that excess putty on the
surface of the glass, and particularly of glass paints, be carefully
removed as the linseed oil in the putty can attack glass paints.
photo shows the black putty being forced into the leads with a
window is reinstalled.
correct stained glass fitting conventions were originally used,
the window is reinstalled in exactly the same manner. Where windows
were not correctly installed the window is reinstalled using
correct conventions unless there are compelling reasons not to
photo shows the reinstallation of the fabulous 1922 Brooks Robinson
Studio windows at St Andrew’s Uniting Church, Brisbane which
Gerry and Jill restored in recent years.
the conclusion of the work the custodian is presented with a written
and photographic report on the works that have been undertaken,
along with a list of materials used.