I left Wells on the 21st of November and started work at Lincoln cathedral on the 23rd where I was on placement until Christmas. The Lincoln Cathedral glass department is run by Tom Kupper and Steve Lewis and also employs one other person. Although work was being done on the cathedral while I was there I didn’t really get to take part in any of it. Instead I was set educational tasks that they felt would help me hone important skills.
The main thing I was working on while I was there were two sets of small leaded panels. The first set of six were meant to be free gifts for people who donated a lot of money to the cathedral. The second set were purely for my enhancement, but may later on be sold at a fundraising event. During the course of making these I got to observe other things that were being done in the studio and help out a little on small jobs. On the last two days I was also able to try acid etching, something I have long been interested in.
Refurbishing the cathedral has been an ongoing project since the 80s. There are a lot of people employed under the umbrella of ‘works department’ including glaziers, joiners and stone masons. For years to come they will be working there way around the cathedral repairing it. All of this costs money, and although the cathedral owns a lot of property that it rents and is funded by the English Heritage it still relies on donations.
First the glass is cut for the souvenirs.
Those who donate a lot get a small glass souvenir, a sort of replica of a section of window in the cathedral. I made six of these, following a cartoon given to me of a simple design. I cut and grinded each piece using red, blue, yellow and green glass then painted the designs. The first layer of paint used a mix of debitus and rouge for trace lines. Once this was fired it was touched up and fired again. Finally every piece was given a matt lavender wash which was rubbed back in places to bring out the colour. Each panel was leaded from the inside out because they were circular, before being put to one side to be puttied.
Souvenir once painted.
During this time I also cut and leaded together a different design. I did this three times so I could see the improvement I was making. I hadn’t done any lead work in a long time so my early works were much worse than my later creations. Everything was soldered using a gas soldering iron, something I hadn’t used before. Previous students had also been told to make these so there was quite a collection. Mine were added to the rest, which I soldered the backs of and spruced up ready to be puttied later.
Alternative panels leaded and puttied.
I had never brush puttied anything before but was given my first opportunity on a window that had recently been fixed up after being removed from a nearby church that was demolished. I mixed white spirit and linseed oil into leaded light cement to thin it out. It was very hard and lumpy at first and I worked out all the lumps with a metal scraper. Once it was the right consistency I worked it under the lead with a stiff brush, running a pointed dowel around the edges to remove excess as I went. I used whiting on top to dry it out but it seemed to dry quite fast anyway. The brushes were cleaned after by leaving them overnight in white spirit.
Souvenir being leaded.
I later went on to putty all of the souvenirs and leaded panels I had made along with some I hadn’t. Having never used leaded light cement before I wasn’t aware of its differences with linseed putty a product I am very familiar with. Plaster can be left on putty overnight to dry it out but when it left the whiting on the cement overnight it stuck. Obviously this combination works differently. To counteract this I brushed in lamp black carbon powder with a toothbrush to darken it down again. This worked quite well although it still wasn’t as dark as the original cement.
These panels were not brush puttied but finger puttied so I had to thicken up the rest of the cement that I had been using before by adding whiting until it was the consistency of putty and didn’t stick to my gloves when pinched. Once they were puttied and left to dry they became solid and sturdy and that’s when they were finished.