Here at Stained Glass San Antonio, we are part of a parent company called Scottish Stained Glass. We love this because it gives us a chance to be a part of absolutely amazing restorations, repairs, replacements, and even recreations. A recent project we were part of was an amazing stained glass window recreation at Sam Houston State University. It was one of our company’s most ingenious projects. One that breathed new life into a school campus and brought back something they once cherished–their stained glass window. One of the best parts about this masterpiece was recreating a window of old using nothing more than a single picture.
Replicating Sam Houston State’s Historic Stained Glass Window
The Lone Star State is full of schools. Almost none older than Sam Houston State University founded in 1879. The campus is beautiful today but the original campus was made up of lovely arched bricked structures. One such structure had a stunning stained glass window as a prominent feature. This window was a school icon and a point of pride, For nearly a century this window stood tall and aged gracefully with the campus. Sadly, in 1982 it was destroyed in a fire. Recently, SHSU decided to have the lovely window recreated to commemorate their school motto “The measure of a Life is its Service ”. They came to the Scottish Group because we are one of the most prolific stained glass studios in the country and we are so glad they did. We took the restoration journey with them as we navigated some of the challenges recreating stained glass window presents.
The First Challenge of Restoring Sam Houston State University’s Lost Stained Glass
Probably the most difficult, but exciting, parts of replicating this stained glass window was–the window no longer existed. You see, the fire completely destroyed it. Furthermore, there were almost no historical records of this window either. The only thing we had to work off of was one picture from 1962 discovered in an old yearbook, Starting from a single color photo as our only guidance we did what we do best–create something beautiful.
Modern Technology for Restoring Stained Glass
We knew we needed modern technology to do this window. We use a blend of old and new techniques all the time when restoring stained glass windows so this was not new to us. First, we scanned the picture into the computer. From there we were able to print out a full-sized version. We carefully traced the lines from this printout and then put it back into our CAD program to resize it again. The school requested a window twice the size. The process was long and hard but definitely, the right way to honor the look of the original world because the time and effort, aided by technology, paid off in accuracy!
Restoring Sam Houston State University’s Lost Stained Glass
The next major issue was finding the same materials that were used in 1879. That was over -100 years ago so many of the color formulas have been lost to time and many of the glass materials were no longer being manufactured. We knew finding a proper match would be impossible so we would have to improvise. We started out using one of our top conservation specialists to help us find colors that were as close to the originals as we could get. In our mind, close was not enough. So, we next turned to our crew of talented stained glass painting artists. We employed them to apply additional layers on top of the hues that were almost right to make them an exact match.
The Results of the Recreated Commemorative Stained Glass Window
Our work took us about a full year–not uncommon with very large or detailed stained glass artwork restorations. The SHSU window required extensive layering to get the shadow and depth right–about ten in all. Also, this window involved the use of a staggering 3,000- 4,000 individual pieces of glass. Aesthetically speaking, the window came out stunning. Down to the last detail, it looks exactly like the original stained glass masterpiece. In fact, it has once again become the pride and joy of campus. The entire university–from staff to students–was incredibly excited by the look of the new piece on their campus, just delighted by a replication that was so beautiful. Furthermore, the entire Scottish Stained Glass family was happy too! We take great pride in our stained glass restoration and recreation projects. We feel like giving them our all is our way of giving respect to the artwork of old and preserving it for generations to come.
If you have a stained glass restoration or rebuild project we would love to speak to you about it too! Contact us at Stained Glass San Antonio today for a free consultation.