Restoration Blues, lobster hands, babies and other worries

So a wee recap on the mission.
A two lancet window, the right hand side is Vandal damaged, the artist is one Dr. (Robert) Douglas Strachan (26 May 1875, Aberdeen -1950 ) was considered the most significant Scottish designer of stained glass windows in the 20th Century. Schooled at Robert Gordon’s, he studied art at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen.

The right hand side window is badly damaged,with the leads bent out of shape & few fragments of glass to place in the blank sections it took most of last week to draw it out. Why churches don’t keep a record of their windows is a mystery to me. I mean we have had digital cameras for at least 10years, it takes 2 minutes to get a wee snap of the window. Saves me a lot of work.
So here is the damaged window and a rubbing of it side by side

Its quite hard to visulize whats going on in the picture so we put it on the light box and coloured in part of the tracing so its easier to see the scene.

Mary is kneeling on the left in a pose that suggests she is cradling a baby, ol’ JC himself! and Joseph is standing on the right wearing a big robe. Joseph is not after Mary’s chips as was my first thought, he wants a wee go of the baby!
The main problem is Joseph’s hands. There are 2 shapes that kind of look like lobster claws, firstly not looking much like hand shapes, and too high for where his hands should be. After a fair bit of deliberating this is what we came up with what was probably going on in the scene. Fitting a baby & hands into the given shapes…

I cut the hand shapes and lowered them into a more realistic location.
Looking a little better now. So now I retraced this drawing to sharpen out some lines and get a final layout.

So all happy its time to cut the glass, which i did today and over the next few days do the painting to give the shapes line & shading, fire in the kiln and then lead her up.
Here is the majority of the glass bits cut out & positioned.

As a wee final bonus its been the soundtrack to the weekend.. the super cute Linda Lewis and a super happy song from her 1975 album Not A Little Girl Anymore.


Inset – Rather than having a separate post ill just edit this one as work continues. So this week once all the bits are cut I begin the painting process.
For these windows im using pain Black, and a selection of brushes.

The glass paint comes as a powder that’s mix with water (and occasionally vinegar to add strength) and ground together with a palette knife.
I start with the general line work, such as the folds on the cloth. This is fired in the Kiln at 650 degrees. The second stage is the general shading, which is achived by applying a matte coat of paint and scratching this off with various brushes and techniques.

I finished the week with all the bits shaded, still some work to do on the hands & mary’s face.
Last pic of the week is the kiln firing up… slightly out of focus but it looks pretty cool when the gas lights.

Musically its been Prince all the way and the excellent Commodores album Machine Gun. Here is a quality track…

The leading began today (monday), still a couple bits in the kiln getting a third firing to darken them up a bit. Trying to replicate the look of the original paint work is quite a job. You have to remember the right side window is largely not original now and will be up beside an entirely original window (left side) so I want them to look, as much as I can, the same. That aside, the paintings done and I started leading today. Hopefully get this done in 2 days-ish.

Got the leading finished today, soldering & putty tomorrow and she is ready to go home.


4 thoughts on “Restoration Blues, lobster hands, babies and other worries

    1. thanks. these windows were particularly interesting graphically. I did a earlier post when i started restoring them about 2 weeks ago, in it i mentioned the details in the un-vandalised window where the scene is the angel telling Joseph about Mary having the baby and this is illustrated by Joseph having his eyes closed and above the angel is a cool ‘vision’ detail section in blue. Its a really nice set of windows. I do like the fun projects, although this one was a bit of a challenge. Come back sometime, ive got some time lapse video’s on there way, they are super cool. 🙂

    1. cheers andy. i really liked your fire tub post, next time im down the scrap yard ill see about sorting out a drum. hope you post more, ive certainly found the blog project helpful in motivating me to do more work and its a total bonus to have folk actually looking at the stuff and getting feedback. see you aboot

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