Merry Christmas! We wish you to spend this time with your family in warm conversations, just slow down for couple of days and appreciate life once again, regardless of your faith and beliefs.
However, if you are to visit a cathedral anytime soon, we’d like to draw your attention to one thing. One of quintessential parts of any cathedral, in fact. We are going to talk about stained glass windows.
These marvellous works of art are a subject of discussion, as no one can say with certainty when they were first created. However, the earliest mention of them date back to around 350 AD, when they started appearing in Christian churches. Due to the nature of materials used, many works probably didn’t last long. Even now stained glass panels need proper maintenance and support to go through all sorts of natural and man-made environmental effects. And if those precious pieces of glass managed to survive wars and nature, weather still leaves a footprint over time.
Even though churches do not require regular windows cleaning, it turns out they might suffer from a variety of “diseases”. First of all, most of these works are older than your grand-grand-grandparents would be now and glass had to withstand years and years of rain and direct sun. That causes both internal and external damage like corrosion of glass and different deposits that start cultivating biological colonies on the surface of stained glass. Growing on top of the surface, it starts “eating out” pieces of artwork and in long term actually destructing the very glass itself. Also, the metal frames of the staining glass can rust and even spread it on the glass in a form of powder or oxidation. Add to that, probably the largest danger for any ancient treasures – human beings. Many pieces were destroyed in attempts to clean them from organic deposits.
Well, what can we do? Luckily, people have learned a lot during the lifetime of these beautiful designs and have learned how to clean stained glass windows. Not only that, but even how to restore and preserve them. Although, if you own a property with stained windows, you should not try cleaning it yourself without proper experience or at least warnings and window cleaning tips.
To make it easier for everyone, here are the DO’s and DON’T’s for cleaning stained glass.
- seek professional advice – tools, cleaning solutions, techniques are all potential hazards for your stained window;
- inspect glass for existing damage; simple scratch is like a bleeding wound – unless treated well, will become a big problem;
- provide easy access to the windows and make sure everything is safe and secure;
- cut tree branches, if they grew way to close – strong wind, branches and fragile glass are not the best combination.
- attempt clean heavily stained or damaged glass yourself, unless you are a trained and experienced;
- use harsh abrasive pads of common household equipment;
- NEVER use acids and/or wire wool;
- make direct contact with any metal, hard plastic, wood or other materials and edges of any objects;
- lean on glass;
- try scratching off mold (both partially and completely).
Actually, in most cases, it takes a whole team of professional conservators and artists who would work for weeks or even months to restore looks of the glass and try to recreate missing parts of picture. However, no stained glass plate will ever look just like new, nor should it – every piece is original and time must leave its signature as well.
Every time there is a need of restoration, group of professionals would start with in-depth analysis and inspection. Having identified type of damage, they plan whole project in detail like a heart transplant. Sometimes, glass actually has to be taken away for various cleaning and restoration procedures. Additionally, they might install insulation glazing and climate control systems. When biological hazard on the surface of glass has been eliminated,
So next time you go to the cathedral, look once again at those tall, elegant windows that tell us stories of the past. Think how long they have been looking down at thousands, millions of people through the years… Enjoy the beautiful looks of them and thank someone, who made sure you can enjoy it by caring for them for hundreds of years.
That’s for today. If you feel like you would like to see more of these glorious windows, take a look at our board on Pinterest and follow us for more inspiring collections each week.