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The Enlightenment: The Lamb Studios Stained Glass Newsletter

Issue No. 5, July 2014

A Stained Glass Window Survival Story

Hurricane Sandy did its damage to the Northeastern United States in late 2012. One of the victims was a beautiful stained glass window made by Von Gerichten Studios. The Baptism of Jesus window is located at the First Baptist Church in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

When Lamb Studios first visited the church after the storm, the 14’ x 18’ window had been boarded up on the outside and shored up on the inside. This was accomplished by members and friends of the congregation, headed by Craig Stewart, immediately after the strong winds passed.  The wind had done its damage, the upper frame had been hinged outward at the spring line and one 52” x 42” stained glass section was missing and other areas showed missing and broken glass.

The task was to create an entire new frame made of cypress wood, re-lead all of the surviving stained glass, and re-create the missing portions. There was no quality “before” photograph, only a distant picture that gave us a general idea of what the missing panel looked like.

The first step was to label and remove all the stained glass sections and safely transport them to the studio. Next was to take the sizes and templates of the wood frame and its opening. A cross section of the frame was cut out to have a sample of the wood contours. Master craftsman Erich Kress was responsible for designing and creating the new frame. In order to properly design the new frame, Erich took all the necessary on-site measurements and made templates of all the stained glass panels that were still intact. The new frame consists of five layers of cypress, cut on a CNC router and laminated. The joinery used was one thousand year old technology – the mortise and tenon joint, known for both its simplicity and its strength. This was used at the spring line in place of a butt joint that gave way.
In the studio, Gregor Lorkowski was given the assignment to re-create the missing panel. He had received a box containing glass fragments and the folded up, mangled lead skeleton of the destroyed panel. Using the old picture and the surrounding panels as guides, he was able to flatten and re-shape the original lead cames. By making sure that the lead lines line up with the neighboring panels’ lead lines, Gregor felt that he had reshaped the lead matrix very closely to its original shape. He then took a rubbing of the lead skeleton, and after that made and cut out his glass patterns. The glass fragments were then placed to match the patterns. Glass color was determined from both the glass fragments and from the neighboring panels. To determine painting technique and style, Gregor once again turned to the adjacent panels, glass fragments, and the original photograph. Trace lines were painted first and the glass was then fired. The matting followed, and the pieces were fired once again. All that remained was for the panel to be glazed.

Once the frame was complete in the shop, it was delivered in sections. It was then assembled in the church and then lifted into the opening by having the boom truck reach in through the window opening, pick the frame up, and then set it in place. It was then anchored into the surrounding masonry wall. Insulating foam and wood molding finished off the small gap from the wood frame to the wall. The inside was first primed and then coats of Polyshades were applied. Polyshades is an oil based stain and polyurethane finish that provides wood stain color and durable polyurethane protection.  The challenge was to match the look of the many layers of varnish that had been applied to the original frame over the years. The exterior of the frame was primed and received two coats of exterior grade latex paint and the perimeter was caulked. All the ¼” thick laminated glass was cut to the shapes of the stained glass, exposing the architectural beauty of the frame and allowing for future maintenance. The stained glass panels were hand puttied into the frame from the inside, as was originally done. Clean up took place on Thursday and all was ready for the church’s Good Friday services the next day.

The entire process went smoothly due to the cooperation of James Hardy, the church’s representative. The progress payments that were required to finance the project were paid in a timely fashion, from funds that were provided quickly by the insurance company. Our gratitude goes out to Craig, who was instrumental in helping with the coordination of all the many details during the construction process. A thank you also goes out to all the volunteers who cleaned up to make the church ready for services.

In This Issue

Storm Damaged Stained Glass Window Restored
Documentation of the repair and restoration of an historic stained glass window in Asbury Park, NJ.

In the News

In early June, the Stained Glass Association of America enjoyed their 2014 Conference at THE ELMS Resort and Spa in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. Mornings featured “Stained Glass School” with workshops on advanced enamels, restoration painting and introduction to painting among others. Afternoons featured talks and presentations. The conference wrapped up with a stained glass tour of historic St. Joseph, Missouri, with its incredible Victorian mansions, historic cemetery, and exciting variety of stained glass.

The American Glass Guild held its 2014 Annual Conference on June 26th – 30th on the Campus of Bryn Athyn College in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. Attendees were given access to Glencairn Museum as well as Bryn Athyn Cathedral. Thursday and Friday featured workshops on glass painting, conservation of medieval glass, stained glass design, acid etching on glass, glassblowing, and glass mosaics. A Stained Glass Bus Tour of Princeton, NJ was given on Monday.
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