Leaded glass is the simplest form of architectural glass, but simple doesn’t mean boring! Like traditional stained glass, leaded glass windows are made of lead frameworks as well as clear or uncolored and patterned glass pieces. The structure is the same, but it makes for a different visual appearance.
Leaded glass windows are mosaics of glass, cut to the shape desired and placed together by strips of grooved lead – cast or milled to make an ‘H’ in cross-section then soldered together, creating a lead matrix. The lead is not merely functional but forms a critical part of the overall design of a window. This is all then reinforced and anchored into the window frame.
Leaded glass windows are made of the same key materials as traditional stained glass.
- Glass, the primary artistic medium in the piece
- Lead came and solder, the primary support structure
- Rebar, the steel structural support of the entire window
- Cement or putty, to seal and waterproof the window.
Associated Crafts® & Willet Hauser® have been creating, repairing, and restoring leaded glass windows for over a hundred years and bring that century-plus of institutional knowledge to every project.
When done properly, leaded glass windows have the potential to last decades! Every window, no matter how perfectly made and installed, will require routine repair and maintenance over the course of its lifetime. Exposure to the elements will wear away at the cement and putty, the foundation or building may settle, pressing on the frame and putting pressure on the glass panels. Whatever the cause, Associated Crafts® & Willet Hauser® can help.
Leaded glass maintenance is broken down into two categories: repair and restoration. Often a combination of the two is required. Find out more about Historic Restoration
Leaded glass window repair can include any and all of these techniques:
Following the guidelines of world-recognized conservation experts, Associated Crafts® & Willet Hauser® maintains a CONSERVATION PHILOSOPHY to preserve the original artwork wherever structurally reasonable. Therefore we do not, as a matter of course, replace individual pieces of cracked or faded painted glass unless individually specified. Once a piece of glass is deemed broken and in need of replacement our studio has the resources to provide the best possible match available.
Leaded glass windows can begin to bulge due to years of exposure, heat build-up, gravity, settling, or improper bracing. Bulging and buckling will create cracks and fractures as the glass and lead support weight they were never meant to endure.
When braces need to be secured we solder them directly to the panel, or wire them to the panel using copper ties. It is important that the re-securing is achieved using the original method used on the window.
Our craftsmen will improve the ventilators’ operation by mechanical adjustment, light grinding, or lubrication. We will make the double-hung ventilators operational by sanding the sash perimeter, reattaching sash weights, or replacing sash ropes or chains.
Years of exposure to elements and heat will dry and reduce the cement compound in a leaded glass window, often faster than the lead came itself deteriorates. This loss can weaken the window as well as no longer be waterproof. With this protection lost, moisture can get in between the glass and lead. When the temperatures dip below freezing, this is a critical problem, distorting lead, pushing out cement, and destabilizing more of the window. It is important to rejuvenate this cement on the exterior and to strengthen and waterproof the window.
When wood frames are neglected and left exposed to the elements, they deteriorate faster than necessary. As that frame deteriorates, so too does its ability to stabilize and support the window properly. Minor wood repair for wooden frames or stone repair on masonry frames should be performed as needed to prevent moisture from working its way in. Recaulk and repaint the frames to protect them from the elements.
Exceptional Care, Exceptional Craftsmanship, Exceptional Experience
For over a century, Associated Crafts® & Willet Hauser® has been creating wonderful new leaded glass windows and performing necessary window repair and maintenance when needed. We bring that experience, care, and craftsmanship to every project to preserve these beautiful works of art for decades to come.