Posts Tagged 'restoration'

back in one piece, modelled by my faithful assistant!

After a very long wait for a small piece of glass to arrive I have finally been able to finish my last restoration project. Each window throws up new challenges and chances to learn, but this window brought up a couple of issues I have not had to deal with before! Normally when you repair an old window the first thing that really strikes me is the standard of workmanship in the past, they are beautifully crafted and when you put them back together the glass fits into place like a dream. This panel was some what different!
As soon as it arrived I could see that it had been somewhat crudely made, there was quite a lot of cement outside of the lead work and none of the uniform pattern pieces of glass were the same size (even though they should have been). Only a small amount of the glass was broken, so it was a case of matching the glass, cleaning up the remaining glass and then piecing the whole panel back together with fresh lead, which due to the way the glass has been cut has taken quite a while. But the first sunny day of the year gave me a chance to photograph it in good light and it is looking handsome with the sun shining through it.

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Rip it up and start again

This poor old window landed in my workshop just after Christmas, it is over a meter long, but not that wide and is the dinning room door to a house in Chagford. I dont think the panel is as old as the Art Noveau design suggests, as the glass is quite thick modern machine rolled glass. However, it has badly buckled and as a result some of the glass has cracked and fallen out!  The damage to the window is partly because it is in a high traffic area of the house, but mostly because it has been made without internal reinforcement, this is where thin steel rods are hidden inside the lead work and help keep windows straight and strong. These are used because large windows are heavy and lead is very soft and bendy, so over time if not properly reinforced the panel will bow and sag……needless to say I will be adding them when I put the window back together!

Taking a window apart is a dangerous activity, old windows used all sorts of  nasty compounds and chemicals in the cement and lead starts degrading after 93 years, so it is important that you damp down the lead to stop dust and wear a protective mask to prevent breathing it in.

Before I dismantled the window I took a rubbing of it to use as a template and I managed to take this window apart without breaking any of the intact glass and as you can see I have numbered each piece so I know where they all go. Now I am just trying to match the blue glass in the border of the window, so I am waiting for a delivery of glass. All the old lead gets recycled, the larger pieces of broken glass get reused in my recycled suncatchers and the small bits of glass I use for mosaics and appliqué glass sculptures, nothing is wasted!

Whilst I wait for the right shade of blue I have a mermaid window to start and the drawings for a very large seascape to scale up, so I wont be bored!

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A hard day’s restoration

A couple of posts back I shared some photos of an alter box I had picked up to repair. Well today I finally got a full day in my workshop to tackle this old beauty. It has been rattling its doors at me every time I walk past it, so it was good to finally get on with it!
I have never restored something in such a bad state; very little of the glass was broken, but the lead was bowed and buckling and all the glass had just popped out.
Firstly, I had to remove the panels from the wooden doors, which was quite a task in itself as the wood is very old and I did not want to damage it. Eventually I prized them out and the full extent of the damage was apparent. I had already realised that the reason the lead was so distorted was because it was very thin lead holding in very heavy, thick cut glass central diamond bevels, more of that later.
Usually I would have taken a rubbing of the existing leading to use as a pattern for remaking it, but the lead was too badly distorted to do this so I moved straight onto taking the old lead apart. When taking apart an old lead panel it is important to damp down the lead and wear protective gloves and mask, lead starts to deteriorate after around 93 years and this means that is starts breaking down into powder, which is when it is at its most dangerous as it is easily inhaled. So first of all I gave both the panels a good spray with water and put the old lead aside to be recycled.
Next I started work on the new pattern. Only 3 pieces of clear glass were missing, so this was easy to match; but measuring out and drawing the new pattern took a while, especially as I decided to use various thicknesses of lead to hold the heavy glass in place more securely.
I then built up the lead and glass and soldered the finished pieces together to secure.
I still need to cement and paterna the piece, but I think you will agree that an afternoon’s work can make a huge difference!

A sorry sight

I have just picked up my new restoration commission, an old Alter box, which has really seen better days! I have ordered some lead and I am working on matching the colours, but as the owner informed me, “..anything will be better than whats there at the minute..” and I cant help but agree!

I will start getting down to work on it in a couple of weeks, hopefully there will be less daylight showing through when I have finished!

I have also finished, sold and sent this piece of Heacham beach for a wedding present, it is engraved with L & B and the date of their wedding.

I have also made and sold a large leaf window hanging, with 5 strings of 5 leaves, going from light green through to dark red. This is a 40th birthday present and I really hope she likes it, especially as the other part of her present is a stained glass lesson with me in my studio! I have started teaching now, more news of this to come later!

Last but not least, I am trying to list an item a day for the rest of the month on Folksy. There is a group on Folksy called the July Jesters who have been doing this all month and I have been inspired to join in, lets hope I can keep up!

I am hopefully having a stall at Torquay Carnival this weekend, on the Sunday (yet to be confirmed) in the marque, so look for me there if you are around. To which end, I need to get making more stock! I took lots more stock to Otterton Mill this week so that they can give me a larger display in the upstairs gallery. Which is lovely, but it has left me a bit low on stock! Right enough chatting, back to the workshop! OH, one last thing, the boat sculpture is still there! It has weathered its first week of high winds and rain, thank goodness!

Inspiration at Politmore House

We spent the day at Poltimore House today (just outside Exeter, on the way to Broadclyst),  drawn by the fantastic plant sale they have there annually and we love the overgrown walks through the wild flower woods. The ghosts of the past and the houses former glory hang heavy in the air and the atmosphere is a strange combination of hope for the future and a melancholy edge that comes from a derelict house, especially such a grand one!

The house and grounds are being slowly restored by the dedicated trust of local people who are trying to bring the derelict house and grounds back to good condition and make it a centre for the arts.  Its a big dream of mine to have one of the future art studios for my workplace in a few years time when they convert the house into studios!

Anyway, the semi wild gardens are hugely inspirational to me, as are the small areas of decaying grandure left int he house and I hope to make some designs from the photos I took today of the house and grounds

Recent Restoration

I have recently restored a panel for the front door of a beautiful farmhouse in Hemyock, near Taunton. Here are some photos of the process. I managed to find hand blown glass to match the original broken pieces and I added glass painted initials as requested by the customer. It is apparently an Art Deco door, however, it has more of an arts and crafts feel to me. The process goes as follows: I take a rubbing of the window to be restored and keep this as a guide to ensure I get the new window exactly right. Then comes the hardest part, removing all the old lead without breaking anymore glass! This is a delicate mixture of extrmeme care and brute force! Once this is complete I clean up the remaining glass and lay it on the rubbing. Next I match the lead sizes and the glass to be replaced as much to the original as possible. I then draw a new pattern, cut the glass and re-lead the window. I then cement the gaps between the lead and the glass, add a paterna acid wash to dull the solder and when cleaned up I buff with stove black. In this case I then painted on the clients initials. Job done.  Each window I complete teaches me something new and this window renewed by amazement at how precice and skilled stained glass artisans have always been. I love working using a method which has barely changed for 1,000 years and can almost feel the craftsmen who made the original looking over my shoulder hopefully happy with my repairs!!


I am a stained glass artist working in Exeter and a busy mum of 2; trying to carve a path through the tide of washing and children's toys that stands between me and making beautiful things.

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July 2020

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