But what happens if they get damaged? Perhaps there are cracks or missing panes, or the lead has failed? In Victorian or Edwardian stained glass windows, there is often a build-up of dirt and grime that stops the details and colours shining through. A good clean can transform their appearance.
Please don’t believe that has to be the end for your beloved stained glass windows. Rather than replace them with bland sheets of new, clear glass, why not have the damaged areas fixed so you can enjoy them in their full glory again?
Stained glass repair process
Stained glass repair is an art in itself. If you are lucky, the damage is in the panes on the outer edges, which can be more easily removed and replaced.
Damage nearer the middle of the design requires a larger area of the stained glass window to be deconstructed to reach the broken area. If this is the case, the original window must be traced and photographed to ensure an accurate record of the design is kept so that it can be put back together correctly.
Then matching glass must be selected and each piece cut to fit, before the panel is rebuilt, using new lead as necessary. Old lead deteriorates over time, becoming brittle or cracking at soldered joints, so it is important to check the whole panel for damaged areas that may need replacing.
Once the damaged glass has been replaced and secured with new lead strips, the panel must be soldered and the gaps between the glass and lead channels must be filled for added strength and security.
Then the refurbished panel must be cleaned carefully on both sides, before a dark patina is applied to the leads to blend the old with the new. Again, painstaking cleaning is required after this before the stained glass window restoration is complete.
It takes time and care, but the result is always worth it.