Portfolio Update: Recreating a Beloved Stained Glass Window for Sam Houston State University
Founded in 1879, Sam Houston State University is one the oldest universities in The Lone Star State. For this reason and many others, we are proud to have had an opportunity to work with this esteemed institution to preserve its history. Recently, SHSU came to use with a commission to commemorate its school motto “The measure of a Life is its Service” on a stained glass window. They wanted us to recreate an original stained glass window that was destroyed in a fire in 1982. Due to our 20+ years of experience restoring and repairing vintage stained glass we were happy to take the commission and knew just what needs to be done.
The Challenges in Recreating Vintage Stained Glass
Possibly one of the most challenging projects we’ve ever taken on and definitely one of the most rewarding. The main issue we faced was only having a single picture of the window to reference from a 1964 yearbook. We first scanned the photo into our computer so we could print it out into a full-sized version. Then we traced the lines carefully to get a perfectly accurate design. This tracing was then rescanned into our design software in order so we could adjust the proportions and double the size of the window per the request of SHSU.
Sourcing Materials for Stained Glass Restorations and Recreations
One of the biggest challenges with this project and many we do is finding glass colors that match the original. We used a conservation specialist to help us source stained glass colors as close to the originals as possible. But, since the original window was built over a century ago, the colors we found were not perfect matches. So we then turned to our painted stained glass artists to paint over the pieces that were close but not completely accurate to create a perfect match! The faces and clothing were greatly detailed and required ten hand-painted layers to get the shadowing correct. Also, this lovely, commemorative window has between 3,000 and 4,000 pieces in total.
The Results of the Stained Glass Replication
Typically our projects are based around restoring a stained glass masterpiece. This involves some replication but usually, we have a window to start from. In this case, we did not but, using our extensive experience, we were able to successfully replicate Sam Houston State University’s iconic stained glass window. This project was highly successful and exceeded expectations. The SHSU community was delighted with their gorgeous new stained glass addition and the window was installed alongside a commemorative plaque in the newly-renovated student center. This project was truly a feather in our cap and we are honored to have been part of this incredible project. We love when our work helps preserve or expand the stained glass art form for generations to come.
If your organization is interested in a stained glass restoration or recreation–we would love to hear about your upcoming project! Contact us at Stained Glass Salt Lake City today!