Sunday, 3 January 2010

Holywell Glass Studio continued...

Grisaille Panel mid clean.

In the short time I had left in the studio I was able to observe some of the other commissions they had on the go. The first I got to see was a Grisaille panel. It was bought by an art dealer called Sam Fogg from another studio and Holywell was supposed to clean and re-lead it so it could be sold for a profit. It was a French panel made from a special green glass between the 13th and 14th centuries. There were four panels in quite good condition that needed cleaned with water under a microscope so as not to disturb any loose paint. It suffered quite badly from pit corrosion because of weather damage but the painting could still be seen clearly. I loved the design, it was really interesting and beautifully interlinked, with an almost celtic quality. I was not permitted to work on it for very long however. I think the man in charge got a little nervous because it was so old incase I damaged it.

Compton Pauncefoot after cleaning.

Instead I got to work briefly on a Victorian pressed glass panel from a place called Compton Pauncefoot in Gloustershire. The church it came from placed it at being around 150 years old and the studio thought it had been made at a London firm ‘Whitefriers’. It was a good example of an early attempt to industrialize stained glass. It used a new technique with modern thicker heavier glass. The glass was heated before a mould was pushed into it creating a relief shape. After it was pressed it was painted. Over time the weight had caused it to bow and it was falling out. It was extremely dirty but cleaned quite easily and looked a hundred times better afterwards.

Arundel window before lead is removed.

I also did a small amount of work on a window from a house in Arundel. Holywell had actually already fixed it up, but as the owners house was redecorated the glass was broken and she wanted the whole piece done again.

The type of metal frame it was in is called a crittle. It had a rebate like a picture frame for the glass to sit in and was held down with gardening clips that acted as a spring. A thick layer of putty had then been put around the edges to secure it and make it look neat. I had to pull all of this apart again and start undoing the leadwork. The same glass was to be used but all the leading needed redone, much to the irritation of the studio because they had to make it themselves.

What was interesting that I learnt from my small contribution to this project was how to take lead apart without damaging it so it can be reused. I was shown how to heat the joint them brush away the solder, trying not to make too much of a mess. Once you can see the lead below you have to work a lead knife back into it and lift the flanges. This has to be done on both sides before you can pull it apart.

Tiffany style lamp after I've removed the pieces needing fixed.

My final project at Holywell was to fix two tiffany style lamps belonging to the next-door neighbour that were broken and falling apart. First I looked it over and marked all the areas with a pen that needed removed or resined. I got two buckets and filled them with bubble wrap so I could sit the ceiling lamps upside down in them with the trim sticking out.

I then made a template rubbing of the glass by cutting paper to the shape of a half circle. I poured a mix of lamp black and boiled linseed oil onto scrap glass. A sponge wrapped in the foot of a stocking, to stop the sponge soaking up too much liquid, was then rubbed into the mixture. The sponge was wiped onto newspaper, removing any excess, before being rubbed over the paper stuck on the glass to pick up the lead lines. This process was repeated onto the second lamp and one was named A, the other B, so as not to get confused. These templates were used when I removed sections of the glass, so each piece could be laid out in the place it was supposed to go back.

Tiffany style lamp once I have repaired it.

I had to cut at the copperfoil and solder with pliers and a Stanley knife to free the broken sections. I then cleaned all the glass with 100% acetone which removed all the dirt and green gunk that had formed as a reaction to the patina.

I resined the broken glass that was salvageable and cut new pieces for the parts that weren’t. In the end about half of each lamp needed taken apart and it took seven working days. Once the resin was dry I copperfoiled everything again and soldered it with a slightly dodgy electric iron. I then cleaned up the glass with a wire brush before going over it again with acetone. Finally I patina’d all the solder using cotton wool and a toothbrush for awkward areas, before cleaning it up with acetone one last time. They looked really good, but it was unfortunate all the broken pieces could not have been replaced, as it would have looked even better.

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