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Portfolio Update: Recreating a Beloved Stained Glass Window for Sam Houston State University

On 04, May 2021 | No Comments | In Aggrigate, Stained Glass Projects | By Martin Faith

Our company, Fort Worth Stained Glass, is part of the Scottish Stained Glass family.  The group of companies has been a part of some pretty amazing historical stained glass restorations. One such project was  Sam Houston State University.  It is a fine example of why we love what we do–we get to breathe new life into structures like churches, synagogues, historic homes, and universities around the country.  A recent project at Sam Houston State University was one of our finest and most exciting works to date.

Replicating Sam Houston State’s Historic Stained Glass Windows

Sam Houston State University has been in Texas longer than most schools since it was founded in 1879. The architecture of the original campus buildings was dotted with lovely arched buildings–one of which had a crowning piece of stained glass. This window was iconic to the school and something they were very proud of.  However, in 1982 the window was completely destroyed by a fire.  In a recent decision, SHSU commissioned our group of stained glass companies to commemorate their school motto “The measure of a Life is its Service” by replicating the original stained glass window.  We could not be happier that they entrusted us with this task!

The First Challenge of Restoring Sam Houston State University’s Lost Stained Glass

Since there was nothing but a yearbook photo from 1962 to guide us, this job came with some unique challenges.  But certainly nothing we could not handle with our extensive experience and stained glass industry ties. You see, we always want to pay respect to the original stained glass art and make it as historically accurate as possible.   Meaning we had techniques already in place to work around having very little historical context or guidance for the job.

Modern Technology for Restoring Stained Glass

We always work using a mix of ancient stained glass techniques and modern technology.  So we started this recreation by scanning the old picture into the computer.  This allowed us to print out a full-sized version and carefully trace the lines. We then rescanned the drawing into our CAD program and doubled the stained glass window’s size at the request of the university.  While the process was painstaking it was also well worth the time and paid off in accuracy. 

Restoring Sam Houston State University’s Lost Stained Glass

Sourcing materials was an issue we knew we would have since most of the time we are working on historical pieces made with materials that no longer exist.  After all, this window was made over a century ago.  In cases like this, finding proper color matches is the challenge.  But we have a network of conservation specialists and used them to help us find colors that were very close to the originals.  To us, close is not enough so our plan to get the old colors matched exactly was to employ our incredibly talented painted stained glass artists.  Using their skill and knowledge they painted over the “close” hues to make them exact matches.

The Results of the Recreated Commemorative Stained Glass Window

The recreation of the stained glass window at SHSU took almost a full year.  In some spots around faces and clothing, there were ten layers of color to get the shading just right!  A mix of art and science this lovely commemorative window ended up with about 3,000- 4,000 pieces.  The reactions from the university staff, students, and board were of amazement and gratitude. This made us so happy since we take such great pride in our stained glass restoration, repair, and recreation projects.  We believe these treasures of old deserve preserving it for generations to come.

If you are looking to have a historic stained glass window restored or rebuilt we would love to speak to you about it!  Contact us Fort Worth Stained Glass today for a free consultation.

Martin Faith has dedicated his life's career to the study, preservation, and exploration of one of the world's most beautiful and rare forms of art. For the past 30 years, he has been running his stained glass studio based out of Fort Worth, Texas. Martin's company specializes in an array of stained glass styles, ranging from traditional to contemporary, including Mackintosh, Greene & Greene, art nouveau, art deco, prairie, beveled glass, and religious. He has personally overseen numerous restorations for churches during which rare and valuable glass was saved from extinction. Over the years, he and his team have produced over 50,000 stained and leaded glass windows for homes, churches, and buildings in Fort Worth and throughout the continental U.S.

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