From large restoration projects to small in-situ repairs, helping preserve original glasswork is an important part of our job.
We take work of this kind very seriously, which we hope gives confidence to our clients, whether they’re a local resident or the Natural History Museum. Small repairs of individual glass breaks can sometimes be repaired in-situ. However, this is not perfect – working the old lead can damage it. Where repairs are not practical, we advise rebuilding the panel.
Historically sensitive projects, such as Hampton Court Palace, and private clients may sometimes prefer to replace individual glass piece within the structure of the existing lead light window without removing it. There are two basic criteria for whether a panel can be repaired on site:
1. The panel is intact, flat, rigid, and does not bow to the touch. The lead must be in good condition.
2. The break to be repaired is not adjacent to another break to be repaired. The lead in between the two glass pieces will be severely disfigured and may break otherwise.
The process for the repair is: to remove broken glass; clean out the lead channel from the original cement; fold the lead flange back 90 degree for access; cut in the new glass; seal the new glass in the lead with putty from both sides; fold the lead flat, and clean up.
Whilst the process sounds simple, it takes much experience to be able to do this without severely disfiguring the lead and accurately cut in the new glass. We do not advise anyone without extensive prior experience to try this.
For the majority of restoration projects we work on, we remove the panel to rebuild it at our dedicated studio in Esher.
Rebuilding the panel will yield the following:
1. The original worn or damaged lead is replaced with new strong lead. It is a visual and structural difference.
2. The original glass is preserved. Any broken glass is replaced with the nearest match available, preserving the aesthetic of the design.
3. The panel is re-sealed with new cement. The lead is polished to glossy black. The glass is cleaned.
The process for a rebuild is: strip the old lead from panel; wash and clean the original glass; replace broken glass with the nearest match available; build the panel from scratch using new lead (matching width and profile) – soldering the joints on both sides completes the panel. Panels are sealed with leaded light cement, polished glossy black, and cleaned.
Essentially, we restore the stained glass panel to how it would have originally been. On most occasions, we improve on the leadwork and general aesthetic, where previous workmanship is not to our standard. Panels generally need rebuilding every 50-80 years. Door panels, or panels fully exposed to weather, may need rebuilding more often depending on how they’ve been treated. Leadlights can live for centuries if carefully maintained and rebuilt in time.
It is possible to rebuild panels to customise it to your needs – changing some glass, or making it smaller/larger to suit a new frame. However, excessive change to an original panel may be impractical. It is often more cost-effective to commission new panels to be made. Please see our portfolio for inspiration and design ideas, or our Instagram for our latest work.
We are always happy to advise the best course of action on an individual basis.