Including stained glass in the architectural design is an ideal solution to create light atmospheres and unique spaces. Architects and quantity surveyors have resorted since ancient times to the use of stained glass windows for the enclosure of interior and exterior openings, using the work of the master stained glass artist or master glazier.
The stained glass is an artistic technique that has some particularities that differentiate it from other techniques and that we will detail in the following lines. Architectural design and restoration professionals will thus be able to have the necessary elements of judgment when planning their work, whether for new projects or the design of a master plan for the restoration of architectural works.
1. The architect’s starting point
Every stained glass window has its beginnings with the basis of an initial architectural project in which a trace is used that starts from the previous sketch (usually to scale 1/10) and in which the first proposal is collected. From here, the master glassmaker transfers the preliminary sketch to paper and, using the drawing, tries to devise a solution when it comes to transferring the desired result to the glass.
The stained glass workshop is a creative place where solutions are provided for each specific case, providing its own stained glass designs created by its draftsmen or by other specialized artists who will find the most appropriate final solution for each space.
2. Installing a stained glass window
Before starting the work, the master must study the context in which the stained glass window or the set of stained glass windows that have been created must be inserted. The site must also be previously evaluated before starting work, since all lighting and construction factors will have an impact on the final result.
The success of the stained glass program and the achievement of the objectives to be achieved with the use of stained glass windows will depend on this previous study. There are an infinite number of different glasses and colors that can be selected depending on the context, but there are many other factors outside the stained glass itself that the master must master and control.
It is necessary to have a deep knowledge of the light that will affect the future window, to which is added a control of all the changes that will occur in it throughout the day and the annual cycle of the seasons. In the same way, there must be a control over the lighting space to be created on the other side and the light effects to be generated and controlled. Balancing the light is one of the most complex tasks of the master glazier, who must choose the most appropriate glass in each case, so that it is neither too light nor too dark. A point of equilibrium,
and proportion inherent in every artistic work that ultimately pursues beauty or art for art’s sake.
The stained glass is made by panels that usually do not exceed one square meter of surface since the smaller they are, the more resistant they will be and the better they will withstand the passage of time. Their installation does not differ much from the installation of normal glass, but they require other elements that are unique to them.
They need to have a frame to which they are fixed by means of a lath or a profile or, in some cases, using putty or polymers. In more exceptional cases, lime mortar is used for fixing. All the stained glass windows have handrail reinforcements whose ends are anchored to the rebates.
3. Protection and conservation
Installation is the final stage which, in some cases, is carried out by specialized installers under the instructions of the master glazier.
A stained glass window, like any other work of art, can travel more easily than it seems. As works of art, stained glass windows are considered movable property and as such can be transported in wooden crates protected with Z-foam or any other type of specialized lining that acts as a shock absorber and insulator.
International orders are frequent where stained glass windows are shipped by air with a complete guarantee that they arrive in perfect condition as they travel well protected in safety crates.
For the protection of high value exterior windows, it is advisable to install laminated glass as a closure to secure them, which undoubtedly improves insulation, greatly lengthens cleaning periods and adds extra strength to the whole assembly. It also favors the maintenance of the building’s energy efficiency. For years it has been very common to see bulletproof glass installed in many buildings to protect windows from vandalism, especially in the center of many cities where vandalism is common on some weekends.
4. Restoration and recovery
It is always possible to restore and recompose a broken stained glass window. For this purpose, it is advisable to keep all the fragments that have been separated or unbundled from the original work. and call a specialist as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration. He will know how to propose the most favorable solution in each case, as well as calculate the costs and prepare an adjusted budget before the damage becomes greater and its cost is increased for this reason.
In case of accidental breakage of any piece of the stained glass it is always possible to replace the damaged fragment and in cases of very serious deterioration it is always feasible to make a total recovery and recompose it. When glass fractures occur, the stained glass can be repaired in situ, which greatly reduces the costs associated with this type of work. In the case of very deteriorated stained glass windows, the restoration must be completely carried out in the workshop and then put back in their original place once they have been recovered.
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