Step One: Examine and Consult: Considering the level of work and client commitment involved in restoring a stained glass window, perhaps the most important step in the process occurs before any work actually begins–a proper and thorough evaluation of the window and its environment and subsequent consultation with the stained glass owner to determine the best course of action for the window.
Step Two: Determine Project Workflow: Working around events, services, and other construction can be a challenge. Depending on the scope of the restoration and number of windows, a full project plan may be necessary.
Step Three: Documentation: Measurements, Photographs In Situ, and markings of specific broken glass pieces may be necessary before the window is removed. This greatly helps during restoration as a reference tool for the studio.
Step Four: Extraction: After set up of equipment needed to remove the window and stabilization of any broken or cracked glass areas the stained glass panels are removed from the window setting. An expert extraction is a critical step in conserving border glass during the restoration process. Once removed, the stained glass is secured and transported to the studio and unpacked and documented.
Step Five: Actual Restoration: Many steps may take place depending on the stained glass conditions, including disassembly (discarding the old lead), cleaning of the glass (technique will depend on whether or not the glass has ben painted, but more on that later), conservation work (epoxy edge gluing) of single cracked hand-painted pieces, non painted glass replacement (with precision matching), and where there exists multiple line cracks in hand-painted pieces, creation of new hand-painted replicas. After this stage, reassembly occurs with new restoration grade lead, the new matrix is strengthened with a special formula of cementing compound, the stained glass panel(s) are hand-detailed, and finally bracing is added where needed for full stability. Documentation occurs throughout these steps.
Step Six: Documentation: After the panel restoration is finished and ready to go back to its home, additional photos are taken.
Step Seven: Re-Installation: Once transported and unpacked, the stained glass is reinstalled to its original setting. Final photos are taken in place.
Complete Restoration is at the top of the stained glass preservation “food chain”. Every stained glass window existing today will be a candidate at some point to be restored. It’s the nature of the beast–while glass can last for ages, lead and cementing are key components to the matrix we call a stained glass window, and they unfortunately do not last forever.
There are clear signs when restoration is appropriate, and that’s why the original examination is so important to gauge the health of your window.
When you finally have a visit from a studio representative, be sure to take a walk with him/her and ask about the window conditions in detail.
See for yourself.