We are a proud member of the Scottish Stained Glass family of companies here at Colorado Springs Stained Glass. This allows us to take part in many interesting and amazing historical stained glass restorations, repairs, and, in the case of Sam Houston State University, recreations. This project is just the latest example of how our job is to breathe new life into structures like churches, synagogues, historic homes, and universities around the country.
Replicating Sam Houston State’s Historic Stained Glass Windows
Founded in 1879, Sam Houston State University is one of the oldest schools in Texas. The original campus was dotted with lovely brick structures, some of which had stained glass in soaring arched windows. these windows were iconic to the school and something they were proud of. Sadly, much of the cherished stained glass was destroyed in a fire in 1982. Recently SHSU chose to have one of the original stained glass windows recreated to commemorate their school motto “The measure of a Life is its Service”. They happily entrusted us with the honor of preserving the legacy of their stained glass and their amazing organization.
The First Challenge of Restoring Sam Houston State University’s Lost Stained Glass
Since the window they chose was completely destroyed–there were some inherent challenges in this project. We had nothing physical to replicate so we turned to historical documentation–of which there was very little. This meant we would have to innovate and work with what we had– a single color photo from a 1962 yearbook.
Modern Technology for Restoring Stained Glass
We used modern technology to get the design dialed in. We scanned the yearbook picture into the computer then printed it out full-sized. We then carefully traced each line. This allowed us to be very accurate to the original artwork. After this, we rescanned the drawing into our CAD program and doubled the size of the original, and printed it out again. Although it was a painstaking process, we find it is always worth it to give due respect to historical pieces of stained glass.
Restoring Sam Houston State University’s Lost Stained Glass
The second challenge we ran into was sourcing materials that were used over a century ago. They simply no longer exist. This was particularly a problem with colors. In order to get glass pieces that were very close to the originals, we tapped our conservation specialist. to help us. But for us, close was not enough would not do. So, we next entrusted our incredibly talented painted stained glass artists to paint over those very close hues to make them perfectly accurate.
The Results of the Recreated Commemorative Stained Glass Window
It took us almost a full year to complete this amazing stained glass recreation. In some areas, in order to create shadow and depth, we had to implement ten layers. Also, with a whopping 3,000- 4,000 pieces this replica is truly a feat of art and science. The entire university–from staff to students and board members, was delighted by a replication that was so beautiful and true to the lost original. The entire Scottish Stained Glass family was happy too! We take such great pride in giving respect to the artwork of old and preserving it for generations to come.
If you have a stained glass restoration or rebuild project we would love to speak to you about it too! Contact us at Colorado Springs Stained Glass today for a free consultation.