What is involved
in creating a new art glass window?
help of an experienced studio, the process is simple and enjoyable. A
knowledgeable artist/craftsperson will guide you through all aspects of the
project: design decisions and options; budget considerations; glass selection;
frame choices; architectural woodwork; installation; and care.
The basic procedure
that a studio will follow:
- Visit the site and
consult with the client to see the surrounding architecture, decorative
elements, lighting, and exterior environment, all elements that that have a
profound effect on the windows. Careful measurements are taken at this
- Prepare a small
colored sketch to give an accurate impression of how the artist visualizes the
finished window. Obtain client approval for the sketch.
- Prepare a contract
specifying the technical aspects of the project: its materials and procedures,
all costs, payment schedule, approval schedule, and time frame necessary for
completion of the project.
- Submit colors and
types of glass, matrix materials (lead or zinc cames, epoxies, etc.), framing
system, glass decoration techniques, and full-size working drawings (cartoons)
for client approval.
- Create and install
- You'll enjoy the
play of light through the window for many years to come.
The making of an art
glass window is a blend of art and craft. The process has changed very little
from medieval times, even though many new materials and techniques have evolved
since the beginning of the twentieth century. We feel the creative process
should be a pleasing one.
Click to read an
essay by the Stained Glass Association of America on Selecting a Studio.
How can I tell if
our stained glass windows need attention and/or restoration?
To help you
determine this, look for the following conditions:
- Buckled or bowed
areas or sections
- Cracked, bent, or
missing sections of lead came
- Broken solder
- Putty falling out
from under lead flanges
- Separated tie wires
or support bars
- Glass separated from
- Broken or cracked
- Missing glass
- Painted glass
- Deteriorated frames
(wood or metal)
difficult to operate
- Condensation between
protective glazing and window
Windows, as with
anything else, need periodic maintenance. It is best to consult an expert in
stained glass restoration to get accurate information and advise, as the actual
condition can often be deceptive. Have a consultant on file to call and arrange
an inspection of your windows every three to five years, as well as in the
event of an emergency.
Why do our
The basic cause is
the force created by the window expanding and contracting due to daily
temperature changes. This force is exerted throughout the entire window, and
over a long period of time causes metal fatigue in the lead cames and solder
joints. Inadequately ventilated protective glazing can drastically accelerate
any deterioration process.
The area where the
window buckles or bows is determined by many variables, such as:
- The pattern, type,
and quality of the lead cames used to fabricate the window
- Insufficient or
improperly applied support bars
- Inability of the
panels of leaded glass to expand and contract within a flat plane (i.e., panels
fitting too tightly in their frames)
- Using hard-setting
- Un-vented protective
glazing (pressure is created as the trapped air heats up and expands, bowing
the window into the interior)
Do our stained
glass windows need exterior protective glazing?
The primary reason
for installing protective glazing is vandalism. Stained glass windows generally
do not need protection from the weather or air pollution. Energy conservation
is not an important issue, since all protective glazing must be ventilated,
which reduces insulating value. Furthermore, the stained glass window itself
should be quite air-tight, if the putty under the lead flanges of the cames is
in good condition.
For more information
on protective glazing, and the perils of improper ventilation, see
Can our windows
be repaired in place?
Only a very simple
repair (usually of accidentally broken glass), i.e., one or two pieces of
damaged glass replaced, can be performed in situ. Repairs in place
require the lead cames to be cut in the corners, the flanges bent up, glass
replaced, and flanges puttied and flattened. Because the window is vertical, a
proper solder joint is not possible, which leaves the window's lead matrix in a
weakened condition, which is why repairing anything more than one or two pieces
beyond the most simple repairs must be done on a table in the studio. (By the
way, once the windows are removed, the window openings are secured with
plywood, glass, or acrylic sheet.)
Anyone proposing the
restoration of windows (beyond a simple repair) without removing them is
offering only a stop-gap measure. Any work performed in situ on a window
with problems only deals with the symptoms of the window's condition,
not the root causes, and is definitely not recommended.