On Sunday, June 3, we will be dedicating our newly restored stained glass windows.
In 2016 the Congregational Church of Grafton, UCC brought in Stained Glass Resources (SGR) from Hampden MA to do an initial assessment of their stained glass windows. SGR performs stained glass restoration work with many small churches but also with larger institutions like Yale University, and also performs the design, fabrication and installation of new stained glass windows for new projects.
Walking through the church with Frederick Shea, Owner of SGR, was like a Master’s class in stained glass windows compressed into an hour – Fred’s long experience with stained glass was evident as he described the number of ways that leaded glass windows can fail and showed specific examples of that due to gravity, weather and time. He also pointed out both the high and low-quality repairs that had been done to other windows in the past and how they had been performed. It was fascinating to have familiar windows be brought to life as Fred described the types and patterns of glass, specific painting techniques employed as well as unique or unusual craftsmanship examples.
In early 2017 one of the windows behind the pulpit was discovered to be failing further due to weather infiltration, and a decision was made to use the Hank Poler Memorial Funds to have that window as well as the main triple stained glass window behind the pulpit removed for restoration. In October the team from SGR came to the church to remove the windows and replace them with temporary plywood panels.
In early March of 2018 a group from the church traveled to Hampden to see SGR’s workshop and to see the restored windows before they came back to Grafton. We had a fascinating tour of their facility following the path a window takes: creating a pattern from the existing window, removing the leading, cleaning the glass, making repairs and/or matching glass, and then putting it all back again with new leading and securing it safely.
One of the conservators told us that the windows behind the pulpit were created in the ‘Munich Style’ in the mid-1800’s – detailed painting on larger pieces of glass as opposed to the earlier technique of smaller pieces of colored glass that are arranged to create a pattern. Very often these Munich Style compositions were meant to be similar to late Gothic and Renaissance paintings.
We could have easily spent twice as long just marveling at the many beautiful windows in process and talking with the craftsmen and women who so carefully work on these windows.
Just two weeks after that tour SGR was back at the church to re-install the windows! The final photo of the completely restored windows speaks for itself.