This time on the blog, we wanted to show off an example of our work and the process our clients go through. One of the jobs we are most proud of is the work we did for the Church of the Assumption in Bellingham, WA back in 2014. They were getting ready to celebrate an absolutely amazing anniversary of 125 years and their windows were in need of need some care. That’s where Associated Crafts® & Willet Hauser® stepped in.
The History of the Church of the Assumption
The Church of the Assumption was established as a parish back in 1889 by Bishop Aegidius Junger who then named Fr. Jean Baptiste Boulet as its first pastor. He served the parish from 1889 through 1905, seeing the church through its founding years. During that time the first church was constructed on State Street, and then shortly thereafter the parish quickly outgrew their original space. The new property was purchased in 1906 and over the next 15 years, they worked away until their new church structure was built in 1921.
That same year, the Povey Brothers Studio designed and fabricated the original stained glass windows. At the time, they were the most well-known producer of stained glass in Oregon, the “Tiffany’s of the Northwest,” and they made some absolutely stunning creations.
When the Church of the Assumption was approaching their 125 year anniversary it was time for those windows to get some attention!
What the Windows Needed
As you can imagine, 100 years can have a lot of wear and tear on stained glass windows. Associated Crafts® & Willet Hauser® provided a free initial stained glass window inspection determined exactly what was needed and the level of care each individual window required.The windows had clouded over protective coverings, bulging lead, loose or missing support bars, cracked and broken glass, flaking paint, cracked millwork, and noticeable dirt build-up on the window interiors.
What Associated Crafts® & Willet Hauser® Provided
After the initial assessment, it was time to get to work. Before anything could be done, the old protective covering needed to be removed to allow our on-site artisans the access they need to care for the century-old windows. Each window had its own unique needs for care, from simple cleaning to glass repair or more. Each window was cleaned on the interior and reputtied on the exterior. Structural support bars were attached or replaced as needed. The bulged lead came, which can cause cracks and complete breaks in the glass when left unchecked, were carefully reduced and flattened to reduce that risk. The cracked glass was stabilized or replaced where necessary. Two pieces of painted glass, a hand and the head of Jesus in the Sacred Heart window, had to be completely replaced.
Replacing the hand and face of Jesus in the Sacred Heart window may have been the most intensive piece of the puzzle. When it comes to historic restorations like this, the goal is always to recreate the original window as close as possible, unless there was something in the design that made the window structurally unsound, we never want to make any unnecessary changes. As these pieces needed replacement, no change was needed so it was up to the studio to recreate those windows to their original specifications.
A team of three glass painters with over 100 years of painting experience between them painstakingly recreated the glass pieces according to the manner in which they were originally created. This involved color-matching the original flesh-toned enamels with enamels available today and even replicating the original painter’s painting technique.
Once the necessary repairs were completed and the replacement glass pieces installed, the exterior millwork was scraped of loose paint and repainted using Sherwin Williams Duration, an advanced coating with acrylic co-polymers that provides mildew-resistance. Finally, our exclusive Klear-Flo® protective covering utilizing ¼” acrylic was installed on each window. Glazing bars were contoured to follow the major lines of the framing, preserving the exterior appearance of the architecture, where needed. All of these layers of advanced protective coating ensure that every window is ready to stand the test of time.
All in all, Associated Crafts® & Willet Hauser® performed structural repairs to 58 stained glass windows, cleaned 27 interior windows, in addition to the structural repairs needed to ensure these works of art are around for another 100 years at least.