Chicago School of Glass Art

Chicago's Glass Art Studio

Lane Tech South Face

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Today was a very productive day at Lane Tech Clock Tower despite it being 90 plus degrees in the clock tower. Today’s job was cleaning out the south face on the clock tower of all the broken glass and bad cement. Tomorrow we will be cutting out the new glass pieces in the studio and getting ready for the install on Wednesday and Thursday. We are really enjoying being a part of history at Lane tech.


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More Zettler

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Some people have asked me who is F.X. Zettler? Franz Xaver Zettler was born August 21, 1841 in Munich Germany and died March 27, 1916 in Munich. He was a designer and stained glass painter in Bavaria and many of his stained glass pieces can be found in the US.  Here is a quick Youtube clip for you, I would suggest turning the music off or down.  

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Repair and Restoration

Repair and restoration is one of many things that we do at Suevel Studios and I have to say it is one of my favorite parts of  doing stained glass.  Don’t take me wrong, new work and commissioned work is fun, but the challenge of repair and restoration of old windows, or for that matter newer windows, challenges the mind at another level and I love a challenge. Part of the challenge is to make the repair hard to see with the naked eye or almost invisible.  To help complicate things throw in the age of the glass and that you can seemingly never find a perfect match, then add in all the rest. Like how the original artist built the window, any other repairs that were done by someone else, matching the lead, solder, cement, the list goes on and on.  In this repair we had to match two pieces of glass. I know they are only pictures, but not too shabby of job, even if I do say so myself.


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Beecher Mausoleum

So you saw the Beecher Mausoleum building that we are working on in an earlier post. Here is what we have to work with regarding the Beecher Mausoleum stained glass windows. Currently all the existing stained glass windows have been broken and/or shot out through the years and this is all that is left of more than about 20 windows. Our first step is to do rubbings and take a whole boat load of notes of what we have and then we will be doing a lot of research to get the project moving.  Suevel Studios is working with a nonprofit, Beecher Mausoleum, to remake and restore the old stained glass windows; so, the process is going to take a while, but all for a good cause.  This mausoleum holds one of President Abraham Lincoln’s body guards.

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Bronze Metal Stops

Inside the Lane Tech Clock Tower there are bronze metal stops. These Bronze Metal Stops are helping to hold the glass from falling out and are placed on the inside and the outside of the clock tower.  In one area there is a missing bronze metal stop, so part of our job will be to manufacture a new one as a replacement. To accomplish the creation of a new stop we needed a model and what better place to get one, but to take one off the other clock faces.

We are using a method of reverse engineering with a laser to create the missing stop. Because the original Bronze Metal Stops were all cut by hand there are a lot of imperfections in all of them. With the ability to use a laser to create a template and computer program, it will allow us to pick up all those imperfections the original artisans left in the metal when they were originally cut.

The top picture you can see all the inside metal stop, the middle picture shows the stop we removed and the bottom picture shows the metal stop on the table of a laser scanner.


Taping Off Broken Glass

Inside glazing stop

Original Bronze Metal Stop


Laser Scan Stop

Laser Tracing the Original Stop


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Interesting Things At Lane Tech!

As you start doing work on restoring stained glass windows interesting things usually start popping up and the Lane Tech Clock Tower is not any different and is definitely providing us with an interesting item.  Look at the picture of two full size glass windows in the tower.  Take your time and scan back and forth between the two windows. What do you see? Not the broken and or missing pieces, but something else.

See it? The top picture is the West Face and the bottom picture is the North Face and it is the same glass. Notice how the West Face window has a violet tint and the North Face window is white. Both windows when they were installed were white and over the years the windows that got the most sun have turned a more violet color.

An interesting characteristic of some older glass is it contains manganese dioxide. Manganese has a tendency to turn different shades of purple or violet when exposed to the UV rays of the sun or to other ultra-violet sources. It is believed to be a photochemical reaction that is not completely comprehended.  Generally it is accepted that the ultra-violet light initiates an electron exchange between the manganese and iron which, changes the manganese compound into a form that causes the glass to turn purple.

Pretty cool!

North and West Window Comparison

West and North Window Comparison

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Lane Tech Clock Tower

Lane Tech

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We started to do our preliminary work at Lane Tech Clock Tower today.  Even though the glass is all one color it is set in place like stained glass. Today’s job was to create a log of the glass that is broken and missing, tape everything in place so when we remove the glass we can use it as a template for the new glass. After that we placed more tape on the glass, added a number and a letter ID and followed up with photos to create an archive of the windows.

The interesting part will be cutting the glass that is almost ¼” thick, but that won’t be done for several weeks yet because Kokomo Opalescent Glass Company, located in Kokomo, Indiana, is making the glass sheets for us and it will take about 4 weeks for it to arrive.

As things progress at Lane Tech Clock Tower we will keep you updated.

Lake Forest Install

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I know several of my regulars have been watching this project unfold in our studio and they wanted to see the final project in place; so, here you go. For everyone else, the brief Reader’s Digest description and for those of you that know me that’s an oxymoron, is the homeowner came to Suevel Studios with the center round stained glass window wanting to somehow highlight the window in their sunroom. Doesn’t sound too hard until you understand that the homeowner’s great grandparent originally made the round window, which was coming apart and has hand painting on the glass that was not fired onto the glass. During the cleaning process special care had to be taken as to not remove the old paint. Once the cleaning and repair work was completed we took the round window and created a very simple design producing the now large rectangle window. Subsequently when we finished the main window we fashioned the two accent corner windows to compliment the main window. And there you have it finished and installed.

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