Stained glass windows are often add to mausoleums, funeral homes, and memorial chapels not only because they are beautiful, but also because they are comforting. Watching the sunlight interact with colors is soothing. We are reminded of how beautiful the world is and we feel grateful to be part of it. The light reminds of us of our infinite connection to the divine and we no longer feel alone.
Therefore, you can imagine how distressing it was for the owners of the Rose Hills Memorial Chapel when they noticed problems with their stained glass. They saw that some pieces were starting to come loose. They knew they must act quickly, or else the glass could fall out and break, or worse, injure someone walking nearby.
That’s why they called us. Our team visited the California chapel to conduct an inspection and create a plan for repairs.
Signs of Deterioration in the Stained Glass
When we arrived, we noticed right away that the stained glass was showing obvious signs of structural deterioration. Some of the sections looked as they were so loose that they could fall out at any minute. We estimated that each section weighed about 90 lbs. Therefore, the loose pieces were a serious safety concern. If they fell out and hit someone, they could be seriously injured.
The grouting holding the stained glass together also looked as if it was in critical condition. The windows were built in a Dalle de Verre style, and cement grouting had been used to hold the individual pieces of glass together. However, after years of being exposed to heat, moisture, and inclement weather, the grouting had started to fail and crumble. It needed to be replaced badly.
Restoration Process: Remove, Repair, Reinstall
Restoration was the only possible means of saving the stained glass. However, the owners were concerned about removing it. They had several events scheduled for the year. They did want not want to disappoint their patrons. Therefore, they did not want the stained glass to be missing, nor for the chapel to be out of commission.
As a solution, we decided that the best option was to complete the repairs one section at a time. We also created a custom light diffusing window film that can be used as a placeholder for missing sections. The window film was printed with exactly the same colors and pattern as the stained glass. We attached it to a section of clear glass and once it was installed, you couldn’t even tell that the section was missing. This way, funeral services could continue as normal.
We completed the repairs section by section. First, we cut out the glass pieces with a tile saw. Then we rebuilt the windows in the same fashion in which they were originally made, using a combination of cement and epoxy. The only exception was that we added roofing granules to the grouting instead of sand. This made the panels stronger. When we finished one section, we moved onto the next. Eventually, we were able to repair all the damaged panels.
The chapel owners were very happy with the outcome of this process. We had not only been able to repair their stained glass, but also do it within budget and without disrupting their day to day operations.
Learn More About Our Services
If you are interested in learning more about our stained glass restoration services, we would love to hear from you. Please call or email us to speak to a member of our team.
About The Author: Martin Faith
Martin Faith is an expert in the areas of stained glass conservation, preservation, and history. For over thirty years, he has been working as a stained glass artisan and restoration expert. Martin grew up studying stained glass in Glasgow, where he began acquiring and salvaging beautiful collectibles made by Scottish artisans. In Glasgow, he learned the critical skills and traditional techniques required for creating the stunning stained glass windows produced by his company today in the United States, where he now resides with his wife and family. Over the years, Martin has consulted on numerous church stained glass restoration projects throughout the nation, ranging in size and complexity. Martin and his team have successfully repaired hundreds of religious stained glass windows, including those belonging to churches, cathedrals, temples, and synagogues as well as all religious denominations. He has overseen over 50,000 projects in total and is one of the most accomplished professionals in the industry.
More posts by Martin Faith