Sash window repair.
I also got to see a sash window getting repaired ready to go back into one of the cathedrals rented properties. Jar of putty was mixed up with extra linseed oil and the wooden lip on the window frame was covered in this putty before the glass was pressed into it. The glass stuck to the putty and the excess seeping out was cleared off. Stack points, which are like pointy nails are fired from a special gun into the wood around the edges to hold the glass in place. More putty is them squished ontop of the nails to secure the glass and give an aesthetic finish. A putty knife that has flat blunt edges is used to smooth of the putty which dries in a week and is painted with an oil based paint. The painting of the putty is important because it stops it from cracking.
The only time I got to see the sort of thing that they would do on sight is one morning when Steve took me into the cathedral to let me watch him repair a small broken section. It was a lower area of a very large window designed in 1855 by Henry Hughes and Thomas Ward who ran a London based firm. Eve’s head had been broken by a football. A new piece had been painted and I watched it being installed. Another figures dress robe was also replaced. There were two repaints and also some original pieces that had come loose. It was just a quick job. There were a lot of other breaks in the window but in four years the whole thing is getting taken out and repaired so all that was required was for this section to be secured. Extra lead was soldered on as strapping to stop broken bits falling out and they were also secured with magic tape which is transparent. I mostly just watched, but I also ground down the pieces that were not quite fitting and puttied some of the sections. I puttied it with butyl, a black non-setting substance that allows the glass to move precisely because it does not go rigid, thereby preventing stress.
Eve's head being replaced.
To squeeze the glass back into its warped surroundings Steve used a broken pallet knife, a Stanley knife, a dental pick, a little hammer and grozing pliers. He bent back the lead and hammered it, cutting solder with a knife to make the space wider. Eventually it was all fixed up and from the ground you couldn’t tell it had been tampered with or see the breaks.
Other glass in the cathedral was designed by the likes of Henry Holiday, Clayton and Bell and William Whales. It is a magnificent building with glass dating back to 1220. The cathedral was originally built between 1072 and 1092 although they were still expanding up until the 14th century. It was great to be able to stand up close to some of this magnificent glass and see it being worked on.
Vinyl being removed from acid etched glass I created.
Before I left I was able to try some acid etching, something I’ve always been interested in. Everyone who visits their studio makes them a diamond shape for a quarry window. The idea is after a few years they’ll have enough to make a whole quarry out of. I cut three diamonds, the idea being that I would give one to them and keep the spare. I also used the leftover glass to experiment with. I cut the shapes out of red and blue flash glass. These shapes were then covered on both sides with vinyl before the designs were scalpeled out. Once this was done I painted black Bitumen paint around the edges to protect them from erosion and left them to dry. On the left over pieces I painted with the bitumen as a resist on the front and vinyl on the backs.
Some of my acid etched designs.
The acid comes at a volume of 60%. It is them watered down to a two to one formula. It then becomes two parts water and one part acid. So it’s really only 20% acid, which is still quite ferocious if it gets on you. It works quite slowly at this concentration taking about forty minutes to see a difference. Steve told me however that different glass is eroded at different rates and different colours are eroded at different rates, which is logical. When the acid is brushed onto a sample at 60% it works instantly. The results are very similar to sandblasting, except acidic areas stay shiny but a little opaque – like fire polishing. The shading is also very subtle.
I was very happy with my results and could see definite potential for the use of acid in my work in the future. Some of the tonal variations and effects that can be achieved are very aesthetically pleasing. My experiences thus far at all my placements over the last three months have been really useful. They have all been very different but there are defiantly skills I have picked up from working with so many different people along the way that will be invaluable to me in the future. I’m looking forward to the next three months and what they will bring.