Here at Custom Stained Glass Houston, we are a part of the Scottish Stained Glass family of companies. This means as an organization we are part of some amazing historical stained glass restorations. Sam Houston State University is one of the company’s latest examples of how we breathe new life into structures like churches, synagogues, historic homes, and universities around the country.
Replicating Sam Houston State’s Historic Stained Glass Window
Founded in 1879, Sam Houston State University has been in Texas for some time and is one of the oldest schools here. Their original campus buildings were lovely brick structures, the crowning feature of which was stained glass. In fact, the window was a school icon and something they were very proud of. Sadly, these lovely old buildings and the cherished stained glass that adorned them were destroyed in a fire in 1982. Recently SHSU made the wonderful decision to commemorate this window and their school motto “The measure of a Life is its Service” by having the original stained glass window replicated. Happily, they came to Scottish and entrusted us with the honor of preserving the legacy of their amazing organization.
The First Challenge of Restoring Sam Houston State University’s Lost Stained Glass
The fact that the window was completely destroyed–nothing left of them at all–brought with it some inherent challenges. That left us nothing physical to replicate–which meant we had to turn to historical documentation–of which there was also, almost none. We always want to give respect to the original stained glass features by making them as historically accurate as possible. This meant we would have to be smart and work with what we had which was a single picture from a 1962 yearbook to guide our way.
Modern Technology for Restoring Stained Glass
We began first by recreating the design using modern technology. The next step was to scan this picture into the computer. We then printed a full-sized version and traced the lines. This allowed us utter accuracy. Once again we rescanned the drawing into our CAD program and made it double the size of the original. Although a painstaking process, it was well worth the time and paid off in an incredible, historically accurate masterpiece.
Restoring Sam Houston State University’s Lost Stained Glass
Next, we ran into an issue of sourcing materials that were used over a century ago and likely had not been made in ages since. This is particularly problematic with colors. Finding a proper match would be a challenge. We tapped our conservation specialist to help us find colors that were very close to the originals. But close was not enough so we next entrusted our incredibly talented painted stained glass artists to paint over the “close” hues to make them dead-on accurate–a brilliant solution!
The Results of the Recreated Commemorative Stained Glass Window
At the end of almost a full year of work, the stained glass had about ten layers implemented to create accurate shadowing and depth. A feat of art and science this lovely commemorative window also has a whopping 3,000- 4,000 pieces. The entire university–from staff to students and board members too– were stunned and delighted by a replication that was so beautiful and exactly true to their lost original. Do you know who else was happy? The entire Scottish Stained Glass family! We take such great pride in our stained glass restoration, repair, and recreation projects because we know it is 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 Custom Stained Glass Houston today for a free consultation.