The approach to a stained glass conservation or restoration project differs from that of a new glass project. It is influenced by the history of the artwork, the artistic significance, the materials used, the budget and the client’s needs. Decisions regarding the approach must be made on a case-by-case basis, guided by the conservationist’s experience, sensitivity and skill in this specialized field. Window audits can be conducted initially to generate recommendations regarding conservation, restoration and thermal protection.
An extensive process of examination and documentation begins each conservation and restoration project. The windows are studied and photographed in place, followed by comprehensive written and photographic documentation in the Studio. Rubbings record exact measurements, as well as every nuance of the glass and leading texture.
The preservation community today prefers conservation over restoration. The primary difference is that window conservation involves saving every piece of glass except those that are beyond repair. Cracked glass is either repaired with conservation mending leads or edge-glued with conservation epoxy or silicone that has been tinted to match, thus minimizing the appearance of cracks.
Stained glass Conservation entails returning the stained glass to its original appearance. Broken glass is matched and replaced, glass painting is replicated, and the kiln firing is duplicated. For missing glass in both procedures, research is conducted to identify its design and coloration for reproduction. The results from the conservation and restoration of a window are dramatic, as the artwork is completely rejuvenated.
Every stained glass window possesses unique characteristics that necessitate an individualized approach to conservation, restoration or maintenance. Fortunately, there are a number of general guidelines that can assist in determining the need for a professional inspection of your windows