The Cross House
The Cross House has a whopping forty stained-glass windows. The conditions ranges from good, poor, to terrifying.
Even the good windows will need to be taken apart to have all the lead caming replaced. Caming has a life-span of a century so the caming is already past its due date.
Last week I received a second completed window. This window was in such poor condition that I could not wait for the grant to be approved. I was worried (for good reason) that the next wind storm would cause the window to wholly collapse to the ground in a million bits.
The colors look different in the two images. This reflects different lighting conditions. For example, the glass surrounding the center fleur-de-lys looks like it was replaced (based on the BEFORE image). But, it is the same glass.
It is next-to-impossible to find PERFECT replacement glass for 120-year-old stained-glass windows. As such, the glass surrounding the smaller fleur-de-lis IS replacement glass, although the glass at the outer edge of these smaller fleur-de-lis is original. Oddly, the two sorta circles at the bottom center were replaced, although these were not damaged. I will have to find out why.
The salvation of this window presents a preservation dilemma. You see, the glass field surrounding the three fleur-de-lis was originally all of one color/texture. Now it is not. The window, while still very beautiful, is now, well, busier than it was originally.
The difference is that the AFTER is the result of trying to preserve as much of the original glass as possible, while also maintaining the symmetry of the design. However, by doing so the LOOK of the original has been altered (again, because perfect replacement glass is almost impossible to find).
In the above image, note the three circles I have drawn around each fleur-de-lys.
LEFT CIRCLE: The glass surrounding the fleur-de-lys is replacement glass. It might well be antique glass. This area was missing its original glass (see BEFORE image, top).
CENTER CIRCLE: The glass surrounding the fleur-de-lys is original (although the color looks different than shown in the BEFORE image due to lighting conditions).
RIGHT CIRCLE: The glass surrounding the fleur-de-lys is replacement glass. The original glass was intact. It was replaced by the restorer to maintain the symmetry of the design, thus matching the replacement glass around the left fleur-de-lys. However, I would rather that the original glass had remained, even though the symmetry of the design would have been affected. This way, the replacement glass to the left would have been self evident as a CHANGE. As it is now, it looks like the different glass surrounding the three fleur-de-lys was intentional.
I have conflicting feelings about this. A part of me is dedicated to maniacally preserving original bits to the Cross House. Another part of me feels that the original look is more important than original bits.
I am a little sad about this window because I preferred the look of the original, and the consistent background around the three fleur-de-lys. However, to have maintained the look would have resulted in an even greater loss of the original glass (as ALL of the glass surrounding the fleur-de-lis would have required replacing to replicate the original consistent background).
So, a conundrum.
What do you think?
This is only the second stained-glass window I have ever had restored. Before these two windows, I knew nothing about stained-glass restoration.
I was delighted with the results of the first window (which had negligible loss of original glass).
With this second window there has been a steep learning curve. I now know better how to direct the restoration of the remaining windows in the house, and will work closely with the restorer rather than the hands-off approach I used with the first two windows.
I now also know that I will be OK with an obvious repair, rather than trying to hide repairs by changing the original look.