It is always satisfying to work on a badly damaged stained glass window and bring it back to its former brilliance. This was the case with a pair of traditional style panels I had to restore recently that had been taken out of a big wooden front door.
At first glance, it appeared that one of the panels was not too badly damaged. The other was definitely in need of a lot of help, as it had a large section of glass and lead missing. I collected them from a joiner who was working on the restoration of the door. Upon checking them over, I realised that there was a thin layer of wood dust that had hidden several cracked stained glass pieces that had not been evident from the original photo he had supplied.
Both panels were missing large, oval pieces, but the joiner said that he had the missing pieces ready to give me for refitting. Given the traditional style of the windows, I had imagined that these ovals might be hand painted stained glass that would make a focal point in each window. However, it turned out that they were simply blue, textured glass pieces.
When I set to work on the panels, it became clear that the blue ovals were probably not the original oval glass, as it was evident that someone else had previously removed the oval glass and fitted the blue pieces instead. The leads around the ovals were badly squashed from this exercise and the lead strip was too large to hold each oval securely. As the job was to restore rather than replace where possible, I added reinforcing strips between the glass and the lead that were later covered over with stained glass filler, ensuring a better fit and greater security.
Elsewhere, the cracked and broken stained glass pieces were removed carefully and new pieces of glass were then cut and fitted. This is always a slow and painstaking job. It can be hard to find a matching glass (especially in old windows when the glass is no longer made, or when the suppliers are closed to visitors and you have to make your best guess based on an online image!).
One of the domed, round clear glass lenses was missing but I was able to source a very good match to replace it.
For the missing area, I traced off the design from the other panel and cut fresh glass and lead to recreate the pattern as closely as possible. This was particularly important as both windows would be next to one another when refitted in the door.
On the reverse of each stained glass window were the remains of the wire ties that had been used to secure the windows to a reinforcing steel bar, known as a rebar. I added fresh wires so the joiner would be able to reattach the panels to the bars once they were refitted into the door. As doors move, it is sensible to support the stained glass with this extra feature.
Once all the glass was repaired and replaced, both panels were filled to secure these areas, plus any loose original areas. Then the leads were blacked to tone everything together.
After a good clean on both sides, the panels were ready to return to be fitted back into the door. As you can see from the photo, they certainly looked a smart set again when stood against the daylight!
Ultimately, these stained glass door panels are to grace a home in London.