2023 ushered in a second fantastic commission from Carrie Stevenson of 5 Alexandra Street (see Mackintosh Roses from 2022). I was thrilled to support the ongoing heritage restoration project that Carrie and Jon have undertaken on their 1910 house. This time, the tall double-hung window in the second floor lavatory.
Carrie wanted a heritage Art Deco design inspired from the 1913 Murray & Gregory International Art Glass Catalogue. I studied the designs in the catalogue for potential matches to Carrie’s criteria: must compliment the faux tudor style of the house, include the Charlie Mackintosh rose motif and have potential for jewels in the pattern, please. The chosen design has all that which I adapted to include a full border around a single rose element, sized to fit Carrie’s window; 20″x 60″.
Carrie accompanied me to Kim Killam’s stained glass shop in Saint John’s North End to select glass for the project; textured Wissmach (brand) cathedral glass in yellow, green, teal and two shades of red.
For the background clear glass, Carrie provided me with the original panel of clear “Granite” textured glass that came out of the window’s bottom sash during renovations. When Carrie purchased the house, the top panel in this window had a different textured glass called “Crystal Ice”… presumably the original would have been Granite, same as the bottom, but must have been damaged in the past and was replaced with Crystal Ice. Both types of texture are beautiful and both provide maximum privacy. We went with the Granite because the bottom panel is bigger and there was more glass to work with. In fact, there was just enough of this Granite glass to fit all the clear pattern pieces required for both top and bottom panels. This glass is thicker and heavier than normal stained glass and I had to bevel all the edges on the diamond grinder so it would fit into the lead came. With none to spare, extra handling caution was required during cutting and grinding.
I worked steadily through the month of March which came in like a lion and out like a lamb in Saint John. My studio experience was the same… there was a roar of tension early on as I worked with that antique clear glass (lots of loud grinding and nerves on edge) and then I settled into quiet days of picking putty at the end.
Once the putty had cured enough so the panels could be handled, the window sashes were brought to my studio to have the panels inserted and tacked in place. Then away they went for proper sealing and I would wait for a photo of the window once installed in the house.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature played a cruel trick during installation prep. As the sash sealant putty was curing on a drying rack, a rogue gust of wind toppled everything resulting in a broken pane in the upper corner of the bottom panel. Remarkably, the top panel survived unscathed. It could have been much worse so I prefer to believe ‘Mother Nature took pity on us’.
However, since there was not enough remaining Granite glass for a replacement piece, we decided to use the Crystal Ice texture that came out of the top panel. This glass is also of heritage vintage and has a similar density and thickness as the Granite so the difference is not glaringly strange.
If there is a silver lining to this cloud, it is this; with the sash back in my studio for repair, I was able to add anchor wires on the backside for attachment to steel support rods.
This will help prevent the panels from bowing over time (stained glass is known to do that). It is something I should have done before, but didn’t and was wishing I had. It’s nice when these silver linings appear. In addition, Carrie’s window now has both types of heritage glass that were there before she and Jon bought the house. There’s an ironic sentimentality to that.
I have new respect for what Glaziers have been doing for centuries with a special nod to those of the early 20th century. I love Art Nouveau and Art Deco (I’ve made a couple of pieces in these styles) and was completely engaged in making this window. I think it’s the Cat’s Meow!
Many thanks to Carrie Stevenson for bringing this project to Nellyglass Studio. Here is a photo gallery showing the fabrication process from start to finish.