Jersey Art SGS  gold hued glass

Frequently Asked Questions

This section discusses common concerns and questions about leaded glass conservation, restoration, and custom design that have been presented to Jersey Art Stained Glass Studio. When an interesting new question arises, we will post it and the answer here. Please submit questions to:

Q: What is involved in creating a new art glass window?
A:With the 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 time.
  • 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 the window.
  • 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.

Q: How can I tell if our stained glass windows need attention and/or restoration?
A: 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 joints
  • Putty falling out from under lead flanges
  • Separated tie wires or support bars
  • Glass separated from lead came
  • Broken or cracked glass
  • Missing glass
  • Painted glass deterioration
  • Deteriorated frames (wood or metal)
  • Ventilators 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.

Q: Why do our windows buckle/bow?
A: 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 sealing compounds
  • Un-vented protective glazing (pressure is created as the trapped air heats up and expands, bowing the window into the interior)

Q: Do our stained glass windows need exterior protective glazing?
A: 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 Conservation Information.

Q: Can our windows be repaired in place?
A: 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 is unwise.

All work 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.


Still puzzled?

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Jersey Art Stained Glass Studio
(908) 797-3431

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