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Glass Restoration & Relocation

Below are some photos taken while doing an interesting restoration of a couple of lead light windows that were relocated from a shop front to a private house. The lead lights were above the shop entrance (called Top Lights), and needed extensive restoration. The lead was rotten in many areas and many of the original soldered joints cracked. Both windows were very flimsy and needed careful handling. Whoever removed the windows from their original setting had done so very roughly. The new owner of the shop did not want to keep the windows. Rather than see them go to waste, the original owners decided to keep them and incorporate them into their home. In consultation with discussion over a few different options, it was decided to fix the windows side by side in a wall between the lounge and dining rooms of their home.

1. Lead lights removed from shop front in poor condition. The lead lights had undergone several repairs over the years, but were very flimsy and had to handled with care. Fortunately none of the panes of glass were broken. However, the lead work was was particularly flimsy making them ver difficult to handle. Each lead light is just over two metres in length so their tensile strength had was compromised considerably.

2. Above - Cleaning of glass and lead came. Each panel required a lot of cleaning as did the lead came. There was a lot of old cracking putty falling out of the lead. New putty is applied (below), by brushing forcefully under the lead on each side of the window. This not only gives the window tensile strength it seals the panes of glass completely. The putty I make is a mixture of Natural Turpentine, Refined Linseed Oil, Whiting, Plaster of Paris and Black Oxide (and sometimes cement powder), to make the window strong. The ratios of the above can be varied depending on how quickly a putty needs to cure. For example, if the lead light is to be bent over a curved framework in a dome, I would make the putty cure slower so that I can bend the lead light into position without causing any damage. The ratios for each job vary individually.

3. Above - Puttying (sealing) the lead light. Once the putty has been brushed under the lead came a thin layer of Whiting and Plaster of Paris is sprinkled over the lead light to help absorb extra moisture and also to help with the curing process. This can be affected by the heat of the environment. On very hot days, depending on the putty mixture, the excess putty should be removed in a couple of hours. On cooler or cold days, the excess putty can be left for a longer time.

4. The lead light must then be cleaned thoroughly so it can be polished. I use a mixture of black stove polish and natural turpentine when polishing lead lights. I find this gives the lead came an even black finish while at the same time adding to the clarity of the glass. If need be, I polish each pane of glass. I then let the lead lights sit for three days before giving them a final polish or soldering support bars in position. In this case support bars were not needed as the wood framework was designed to hold the lead lights firmly in position.

5. Above - Leadlights in new location ready for plastering surround. I always use a professional plasterer to do any finishing areas around. A good plasterer will have the job done in a couple of hours. The lead lights have been positioned side by side to provide a backdrop to the furniture that sits centrally below it. A wooden frame was constructed to support the lead lights. This was made in consultation with the builder who pre checked the construction of the building. The client had a complete plan of the of the house, which made the builder's job much easier.

5. Above - Plastering completed. Windows installed. The window can be seen from both rooms and provides an interesting and artistic finish to both rooms. A good plan of action is always needed on jobs of this kind. I worked in consultation with the client, builder and plasterer to make sure all aspects of the job went ahead as smoothly as possible. The result is that these old windows that would have possibly ended up in and dump or leant up against the back wall of a shed, have been given a new and artistic life: and will hopefully be enjoyed for many years to come.

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