|Although Stained Glass is stunning
in its use of colour and effect, Leaded Lights - that is windows made from small sections
of clear glass, leaded together - has a beauty all of its
It is a delight to make or renovate a window using either the original glass, or new hand made glass, and to see the effect that the glimmer and wave of the window has on the building into which it is fitted.
We have made and/or renovated Leaded Lights for buildings such as Sudeley Castle, The 'Great House' in Winchcombe, The Royal Hop Pole Hotel, The Tudor House Hotel and many many more.
We are currently in the process of renovating upwards of 35 Leaded Lights for a manor house in Prestbury.
Using only traditional techniques, windows are made or renovated to the highest standards.
If repairs or replacements are required for any metalwork we have a highly skilled blacksmith available.
For issues with stonework there is an expert stonemason on call.
We do our best to keep prices as reasonable as possible, but bear in mind that hand made replacement glass costs up to £120 per square meter, and lead is subject to global commodity market prices, which are currently sky high.
We work with various building firms in the area, and are always very happy to discuss trade terms.
Below is a brief pictorial walk through of the renovation of a small leaded light in a steel opener. Enjoy!
The leaded light, still in its steel opener, waiting for attention in the workshop. The years and years worth of lead paint will have to be removed from the opener. This requires a blow torch, very good ventilation and a gas mask. No - honestly.
But before that the leaded light has to be removed from the opener.
| The opener after the leaded light has been
removed, the paint has been burnt off and it has been vigorously rubbed
down to a sound substrate.
Notice the little holes drilled into the steel around the frame? These are where retaining wires have to be attached to the frame. The wires hold the leaded light against the frame.
|Here are the
retaining wires soldered into place. There is a particular technique
for ensuring that the wires don't just drop out when fitting the leaded
light into place. Given that the leaded light is only fitted after the
frame has been primed, undercoated and painted, if any wires do need
soldering back into place - which obviously messes up all your careful
painting - it is truly a test of patience.
|The opener primed with 'red lead'.|
|Whether it be a leaded light or a stained
glass window, a 'cartoon' is always required. This is an
accurate template for the leaded light, with all the lead lines drawn
in place. It defines what the final window will be.
|The leaded light
partly assembled on the cartoon. The principle behind restoring older
windows is to use as much of the original glass as possible. It tends
to be beautiful glass with slight distortions and occasional bubbles
(or 'seeds'). Unless it is too badly scratched, marred or damaged, it
is unethical to skip it. This is the reason for the numbers on some of
the panes of glass you can see - so that they can go back into their
original positions. The curious thing is that despite the window being
exactly the same size as the original, pieces of glass like these will
never, ever, fit without being trimmed.
and held in place with horseshoe nails. The whitish stuff on the joints
in the lead is tallow, which is by far the best thing to use as flux
when soldering a leaded light.
At the bottom of the photo you can see the four retaining wires ready to be soldered to the relevant joints, as well as a stick of solder.
| The fully soldered panel.You can see the
retaining wires in place.
The bit of kit to the right of the picture sometimes causes a bit of confusion. In case you are unsure, it is my gas soldering iron. The gas comes up the tube, through the handle and then heats the copper bar at the top. The hot end of this bar is used for the actual soldering.
Some people prefer electric irons, but I find my gas one to be more controllable, more reliable and more traditional.
|Now that it has
been soldered on both sides, the panel needs 'cementing'.
This is a process which makes the panel weather proof and much more rigid and robust.
The cement itself is a mixture of whiting, soot black, linseed oil and spirit and is truly mucky stuff.
The process involves scrubbing the cement into the gaps between the glass and the lead, so forming an effective seal.
|Cemented! It does tend to get everywhere....|
|Having cemented the panel on both sides, the next step is to spread whiting (finely ground chalk) over the entire panel. This does three things. It speeds up the drying of the cement, it darkens down the leads and it begins the process of cleaning up the glass and leads.|
|Having left the panel overnight to dry
(drying time depends on the weather a bit), it is time to begin
cleaning up proper. If you leave it too long to begin this, you'll find
that the cement has gone rock solid and is stuck fast all over your
glass and lead. Not good.
The technique here is to use a pointed dowel ( a chop stick works well) to run around the leads, so removing excess cement.
||All the excess cement has been removed,
and the panel has received a final scrub over with whiting. At this
stage the panel is effectively finished, however many clients prefer
that their new windows don't look too
new. There are various ways of aging or treating windows, one of which
is described below.
|Here nitric acid is being applied to the soldered joints. These joints are always the most obviously new elements of a renovated window, and knocking back their brightness and shinyness helps the panel to achieve the dignity of age.|
|The steel opener having been primed, undercoated and painted with outdoor black gloss. It is now ready to have the leaded light wired and puttied into place.|
|The finished window ready to go back to the client. The leaded light has been wired and puttied into place, and will - barring footballs etc - be a feature for decades or more to come.|