Att Stained Glass Austin, we love being part of our parent company, Scottish Stained Glass, because it gives us a chance to be a part of handfuls of stunning historical stained glass restorations, repairs, replacements, and even recreations. One such project was at Sam Houston State University. The project was one of many of our company’s projects that breathe new life into structures like churches, synagogues, historic homes, and universities all across the USA. In this case, a stained glass masterpiece was recreated using nothing more than an old picture.
Replicating Sam Houston State’s Historic Stained Glass
Sam Houston State University is one of the Lone Star State’s oldest schools, founded in 1879. So it has been in Texas for some time. The original campus was made up of lovely arched bricked structures adorned with stained glass. This type of window was a rare feature in Texas at the time. This made them a school icon and something they took a lot of pride in. For over 100 years this window aged gracefully with campus until, sadly, in 1982 it was destroyed in a fire. Of late, SHSU decided it was time to bring that window back into the world to commemorate their school motto “The measure of a Life is its Service”. They came to Scottish Group–one of the most prolific stained glass studios in the country–and we couldn’t be happier they did!
The First Challenge of Restoring Sam Houston State University’s Lost Stained Glass
The biggest issue with having this window replicated was–they no longer existed. The window wasn’t just damaged in the fire they were completely destroyed. There was a little historical record of the window too. That left us with almost nothing to replicate to recreate these stunners of old. You see, we always want to respect the original stained glass artwork by making them as historically accurate as possible. There was one picture from 1962 discovered from a yearbook and using just that single color photo to guide our way, we did what we do best–create.
Modern Technology for Restoring Stained Glass
Our first tactic was to implement modern technology. This meant scanning this picture into the computer. Once there we were able to print out a full-sized version and then with great care, we traced each sinewy line. This allowed us to be incredibly accurate with the design. Next, we rescanned the drawing and put it into our CAD program to resize again since the school requested a window twice the size. Sure the process was hard and time-consuming but it was worth it. The time and effort, aided by technology, paid off in beauty and accuracy!
Restoring Sam Houston State University’s Lost Stained Glass
The next major issue was trying to source materials that were used in 1879–over 100 years ago! Many of the color formulas have been lost to history and the materials were no longer made in some cases. This meant finding a proper match would be very hard. Using our best resources that we have gathered over our 20-year history, we had one of our top conservation specialists help us find colors that were as close to the originals as possible. Since close was not enough for us, we next turned to our incredibly talented stained glass painting artists to apply additional layers on top of the “close” hues to make them exactly accurate– innovative solution!
The Results of the Recreated Commemorative Stained Glass Window
It took us almost a full year to complete our work. This is not uncommon with very large or detailed stained glass artwork. The Sam Houston State University window ended up with ten layers to create shadowing and depth in some areas. An example of art and science working together this lovely commemorative stained glass window also has a whopping 3,000- 4,000 individual pieces. Aesthetically speaking, the window is a replica. In fact, it has once again become the crown of the campus The entire university–from staff to students-was stunned by the perfect depiction we were able to create. Even more so they were delighted by a replication that was so beautiful. But, at the end of the day, guess who else was happy? The entire Scottish Stained Glass family! This is due to the fact we take great pride in work. To us, stained glass restoration, repair, and recreation projects are a way of giving respect to the artwork of old and preserving it for generations to come.
If you have a stained glass restoration or rebuild project we would love to speak to you about it too! Contact us at Stained Glass Austin today for a free consultation.