As one of the many stained glass companies in the Scottish Stained Glass family, we here at Stained Glass Denver get to be a part of absolutely amazing stained glass restorations. A recent project we worked on was one at Sam Houston State University. The project was challenging in a good way and ended up being one of our company’s most ingenious stained glass works to date. It brought new life to the campus and brought back something they thought was lost to history–their stained glass windows.
Replicating Sam Houston State’s Historic Stained Glass Windows
Few schools in the Lone Star state are older than Sam Houston State University founded in 1879. The campus today’s sprawling campus is lovely with a mix of buildings old and new. However, the original campus was made up of many gorgeous arched bricked structures, one of which had stained glass as its most prominent feature. This window was a school icon before it was destroyed by fire in 1982. In 2020 SHSU decided it was time to have their iconic window recreated to commemorate their school motto “The measure of a Life is its Service”. They approached us at the Scottish Group and, being one of the most prolific stained glass studios in the country, we were happy to take on what would be a very rewarding job. The window presented many challenges that made us dig deep into our extensive stained glass resource network and rely on our 20+ years of experience.
The First Challenge of Restoring Sam Houston State University’s Lost Stained Glass
The window from SHSU was destroyed in a fire so we had nothing to reference when recreating it except one color picture from a 1964 yearbook. So right away we knew we needed modern technology to aid in drafting and completing this stained glass window. First, we scanned the picture into our computer and printed out a full-sized version. We then painstakingly traced each and every line. This gave us an incredibly accurate visual depiction of the original windows. Uploading this drawing back into a CAD program, we resized it again since the school requested a window twice the size. This process was definitely long but we wanted to get the proportions exactly right and stay true to the look of the picture. Our time, effort, and use of technology paid off in a window that looked exactly like the original.
Restoring Sam Houston State University’s Lost Stained Glass
The next problem we encountered was one we are very familiar with in our decades-long experience. Finding the same materials, specifically, color formulations and ingredients is always hard when restoring or recreating something from over a century ago. Many of the color formulas have been lost to time and many of the glass materials were no longer being made. Since finding a perfect match would be impossible so we knew we would have to improvise. Tapping one of our top conservation specialists, we were able to find colors that were very close to those in the picture. But for us, still not close enough. So, we set our crew of talented stained glass painting artists to the task of painting on top of the close colors we sourced. Their additional layers of hues were able to make them an exact match.
The Results of the Recreated Commemorative Stained Glass Window
A very detailed stained glass artwork, with little reference material, this project took about a year to complete. To create the SHSU window our artists need to use extensive layering to really bring out details and shadows in clothing and faces–ten layers of color in some pieces of glass. The window ended up with 3,000- 4,000 individual pieces of glass–all perfectly placed to mimic the original. Down to the last detail, the window is an exact replica of the original stained glass lost in the fire. It has once again become the pride of the entire university–from staff to students. Furthermore, the entire Scottish Stained Glass family made something we are incredibly proud of! We feel like this piece of stained glass history was given the respect it deserved and was recreated for future generations to enjoy
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 Denver today for a free consultation