On a Glazing Bench – Darkly

When leading goes wrong

I’m not bitter but, in this country, a great quantity of medieval stained glass was destroyed by the twin ravages of Thomas Cromwell and the English Civil War.

Happily, when a subsequent Revolution took place in France, we managed – selflessly indeed – to import some of theirs, rather than leaving it to be destroyed as the rioting, ill-tempered and probably unwashed French populace sacked some truly gorgeous monasteries.

In the following century, we English repleted our supply: the optimism of Empire coupled with the efficiency of the Industrial Revolution meant that we now approached the manufacture of painted stained glass with a hitherto unwitnessed zeal.

Failed paint resulting from the addition of an untested flux

Failed paint resulting from the addition of an untested flux

Some of this efficiency turned to ashes when, in the ceaseless quest to reduce firing times and increase studio productivity, new fluxes such as borax were added to powdered glass paint.

Yes, since the firing temperatures were duly lowered, the Victorian kilns could indeed handle more glass.

But the glass, alas, was therefore destined to give up its paint within a hundred years or less. – Which, being accidental, does not even qualify as a pioneering form of “built-in obsolescence”.

And yet nothing – not even the combined forces of Reformation, Puritanism and the National Assembly of 1789 – can equal the devastating might of a careless modern-day restorer.

Now we have all seen examples to cause more misery than was endured by the entire House of Atreus.

Today, therefore, we thought to show you something altogether more entertaining.

Picture the scene:

  1. A vast Victorian window must be re-leaded
  2. It is duly removed, stripped down and cleaned
  3. And it is laid out on a glazing bench as yet another job for the hurried glazier to churn out
  4. The re-assembly proceeds apace, unfairly pressured by time and money
  5. The window is soldered, cemented and re-installed

And now at last – returned to its magnificent setting in the East end of a glorious English country church, once more illuminated by the dazzling amber sun – everyone can finally examine the wondrous carefulness of the restoration, not to mention the truly meticulous and immaculate glazing …

"This is the last time I eat with you guys!"

“This is the last time I eat with you guys!”

I don’t want to run the risk of being thought that I protest too much, but let me say again: we had no hand in this.

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20 thoughts on “On a Glazing Bench – Darkly

  1. Rushed or not, how on earth can you put a hand upside down!!! It is not as if the pattern of the original they would have followed could have allowed the shape to fit in & surely someone must have realized the hand would be attached to the wrist! Oh! dear!

    Almost measures up to the mistake on the Hubble Space Lense: when they got it up there, after years of grinding the lense & numerous tests, they realised it wasn’t right!

  2. Re. the Hubble: can you see the lettering across the bottom? – It came straight from Detroit: ‘Objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear’.

    Re. the antipodean glazier suggestion: nah! just a wannabe antipodean trying to order two cold beers.

  3. Easy fix … Just peel the lead from the front like a can o’ sardines, extract and flip the piece, then use one-sided lead tape to the surface, solder the joints and finish with a still black putty … and no one will know!

    I have personally made every mistake in the book … I thought!

    Regards from Rainbow Makers

    • Just so, Brian! The thing is now, though, that the church in question uses it as a Tourist Attraction! (Over the years, it’s actually brought in quite a lot of money by way of charitable donations.)

  4. This can easily be corrected by Photoshop 😉 … Anyway, this is an obvious mistake but I myself have benefitted from taking photographs of the original panel on more than one occasion.

  5. LOL
    that’s worse then the glazier putting the cat door in the pane of glass that was for the top part of the door not the bottom