Monday, January 14, 2013

Waterglass Ribbon Window Repair

 This series of posts will demonstrate the repair of a beautiful custom stained glass window which suffered extensive damage.  Almost one-third of its pieces were broken in a fall. Since it was created using primarily waterglass (the clear and the pale purples), I've named it the "Waterglass Ribbon Window". Here's the "before" photo, with the broken pieces marked by someone else, before it came to me.  Notice all the red numbers, black X's and silver dots.  (Click any photo to enlarge).

Below are two close-up photos of the cracked pieces.

The window is framed in a thin channel, but fortunately, it is also framed in wood.  The extra reinforcement of the wood frame saved it from being destroyed beyond repair.

In order to effectively repair any stained glass window, it must be laying flat.  Notice (below) that this window has 3 inset faceted cabochons which protrude on both the front and back sides.  While these are lovely accents, they make it necessary to place something like a magazine under the window as its being worked on.

First, my husband Eric removed the existing wood frame.  The next step is to start removing the cracked pieces.  When doing an extensive repair like this, it is necessary to plan out which pieces to remove and in what sequence.  For structural purposes, I am removing every other cracked piece, replacing them, and then going back to remove the pieces in between.  It is not advisable to remove two side-by-side pieces.  It will weaken the entire window and could cause it to collapse.

Below, I'm using a pistol grip glass cutter to score a cracked piece using a cross-hatch pattern.  For several of the pieces, I needed to carefully turn the window over and score it on the opposite side as well.

Using the brass end of the pistol grip cutter, I tap solidly in the center of the piece until it begins to crack.  

Below, glass pieces as they break out of the window.

After most of the glass is broken out, I use needle-nose pliers to pull out the remaining shards.  Throughout this process, its always a good idea to wear an apron and eye protection.  Glass can go flying in any direction.  Its important to keep a clean work surface throughout this process.  Below, I'm sweeping up the sharp glass pieces and disposing them.
Below, I've removed about a dozen pieces of cracked glass.

Here's an "inside view" of two of the pieces I've removed.  
The following posts will demonstrate the removal of the solder around the cracked pieces.  Then I'll show the pattern making process followed by the cutting, grinding, foiling and replacement of the new pieces.  Stay tuned!

In the meantime, please visit my website (click here).  And if you are on FaceBook, become a fan and I'll keep you up to date on all my stained glass projects.  Thanks!


  1. WOW! I would not even think of taking on such a big repair like that. Looking forward to your updates.

  2. Excellent information. This site definitely explains essential concepts to its readers. Thanks for continuing to write such wonderful articles
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  3. Wow Fantastic job!!!!! thanks for sharing :)

  4. Well detailed and explanation. I suppose this can be used as a window for house interiors.

  5. wow! i love to try this one at home..i always love watching my grandmother making this..this is so much fun and it can really boost your creativity..