Repairing Your Stained Glass Window

Repairing Your Stained Glass Window Sash Window Repairs North London

So, when I heard that the developer Ian Schrager of trendy boutique hotel fame had chosen the English architect John Pawson, a maestro of minimalist style, to transform the 18-story building at 50 Gramercy Park North into a 23-residence condominium, I could not wait to see how the worlds of cutting-edge design and Old World charm could be joined.

I have also always loved the idea of living on Gramercy Park, an enclave reminiscent of the small-scaled and civilized squares I craved from my student days in London so many years ago. Not surprisingly, I am not alone, and Mr. Schrager knows that. His marketing copy ("A precious and rare opportunity with additional services and amenities created exclusively for a family") links bucolic scenes of the park with digital images of the proposed interiors in a deliciously illustrated brochure (a little girl in a flowered dress, small boys in berets, sun-dappled trees) that is as seductive as an ice cream cone on a hot summer day.

Having made an appointment for a visit on a cold, clear morning, I meet Mr. Schrager in front of the building, where construction is in full swing. We don hard hats and ride an exterior elevator up to what will be Apartment 5B, where one can look out the floor-to-ceiling window in the future living room at a mouth-watering view of the park. The clear expanse of glass and a bird's-eye view of the park are mesmerizing even with the naked trees and empty benches.

Mr. Schrager explains that we are standing in what was once part of the gap between the 181-room Gramercy Park Hotel (also Mr. Schrager's and being totally redesigned by the artist Julian Schnabel in what the developer called "a quirky bohemian style and Renaissance colors") and its original annex. The new glass "minitower," which Mr. Pawson calls "the new bit," is now connected to that annex, which has had its windows enlarged to unify it with the new building.

In a telephone interview from London, Mr. Pawson said that Mr. Schrager wanted 12-foot ceilings. "But as that was not possible to have on every floor, we figured out how to add a high-ceilinged extra space to apartments on every other floor," he said. "I see it as a kind of compression and release."

I'm impressed with the architect's clever way of adding glass boxes to the prewar building. It's a respectful solution sash windows in london that does not fight with the Old World feeling of the area, sort of like a facelift that works.

There are four apartments still available, and all have views of the park: 5A (2,149 square feet for $6.250 million); 9B (2,873 square feet for $9.35 million); 7A (3,477 square feet for $8.975 million), and 14A (2,988 square feet for $10.250 million) as well as a 4,235-square-foot penthouse with a 1,306-square-foot terrace that is $16 million. (Monthly maintenance ranges from $5,472 to an astonishing $17,721.)

The sheer size of most of the apartments is what seems to particularly excite Mr. Schrager. One master bedroom measures 945 square feet.

"Most developers don't like to build big apartments," Mr. Schrager said. "They are often harder to sell than smaller, more flexible units where the market is deeper."

Mr. Schrager said the apartments come with the type of services that only the very privileged enjoy. Here, it is called executive lifestyle management and includes room service, babysitting, painting and repair services, and like the hotel around the corner, turn-down service.

Mr. Schrager suggests we visit the full-size mock-ups of a kitchen and bathroom. On the way, I try to reconcile the concept of these large family apartments with Mr. Pawson's particular brand of minimalism -- the nearly spiritual kind where a box of Kleenex on the bathroom counter, a dirty frying pan in the sink, a plastic toy truck on the rug, or a pile of old magazines can be major intrusions. Never mind that the English architect (known in New York for the serenely neat Calvin Klein store) is a father himself (his sons Caius and Benedict are 20 and 16, his stepdaughter, Phoebe, is 27) and that he has had plenty of experience raising children in his oft-photographed and sublimely uncluttered home.

"Kids feel free in these kinds of spaces," Mr. Pawson said. "Having a clear run seems nicer for them. We were the most popular second hand sash windows parents on the block."

As our children are of similar ages, and as a fan of Mr. Pawson's plain open spaces, I've always toyed with the idea that my family could not only live in such uncluttered splendor but that 50 Gramercy Park North might very well be the fulfillment of this design junkie's dream. I also buy into the current design ethos: the pale-hued bathroom as a sanctuary, the sleek kitchen, wide open to the living space, as a family gathering spot.

Running my finger across translucent glass tile and smooth travertine, or beautifully finished cherrywood materials that are as soothing and tactile as they are sophisticated, I believe that if I lived there I would be able to breathe more deeply and have loftier thoughts, unimpeded by piles of paper or a jumble of mismatched pillows. I am drawn not only to the quality of the materials he chose but to the feeling of lightness and calm that his spaces exude.

Even in the model apartment, the clean lines of the fireplace and the openness of the kitchen are calming. Somehow, Mr. Pawson's minimalism does not feel limiting, but strangely liberating and soothing. Maybe it's the soft palette, the view over the park, the generously sized rooms that make the spaces feel clean and yes, comfortable -- even for a pack rat.

I'm simply not worried here about where to put all our stuff. I say a silent prayer: Yes, if I could afford to live here, I promise I would get rid of everything -- and I mean everything -- that would disrupt the serenity of this environment.

Mr. Pawson's words come to mind. "I never said people should live without stuff, although I personally don't like to have more than I need around," he said.

I'm enraptured, even though I can't help feeling that I could never live up to this aesthetic. And I'm just not sure I want my home to be better than I am.

If you have some experience in stained glass handi-crafts repairing your old or damaged stained glass window is a project you may consider doing yourself. This article assumes you have at least some experience in this craft. If your window is very valuable, if you do not have any experience in stained glass window making or if you lack confidence in your abilities this is a task you may want to leave to the professionals. Otherwise, the process is very much like creating a new stained glass window and even a little easier in the sense that you do not have to do much, if any, glass cutting.

Problem #1: The leaded stained glass window cames are around seventy years old (or older) and have become brittle causing bulging or breaking.

This window sash repair usually begins to happen in a stained glass window over seventy years old. Lead does not rot or rust, but it does lose its elasticity and become brittle over time. If left unattended it may cause the stained glass pieces to fall out or break as well.

The Solution:

Re-leading the window. This is time consuming, but very worthwhile to restore your stained glass window to its original beauty and integrity. The following steps must be taken:

1. Take a photograph of the window and measure lead cames to help with reconstructing it later.

2. Take the panel out of the window frame and remove panel framing.

3. Next, you will need to take the entire panel apart using the soldering iron to loosen solder and gently pry the old cames from the glass pieces.

4. Dispose of old lead in an environmentally friendly way, you should probably take it to a metal recycling facility.

5. Next each piece of glass should be thoroughly cleaned and dried. Lay the pieces in place so as not to become confused later.

6. Reassemble panel using with new lead cames in the same width as the original.

7. Broken stained glass pieces should be traced and matched as closely as possible to a new piece of glass cut with the pattern you create. Another option if you have all the broken pieces and either cannot match the stained glass closely enough or do not want to put new pieces in, is to use thin lead cames to hold the broken pieces together. This option will likely make it obvious that the window has been repaired, so use with care.

8. New cement should be applied to both sides

9. New reinforcement bars should now be attached.

10. The stained glass panel is now ready to be re-framed and re-hung.

This process should be done when the window is nearing seventy years old. Following the steps above should result in a complete restoration of your stained glass window and it should be as structurally sound as a brand new one.

Problem #2: One stained glass panel in a window less than 70-years-old is broken.

The Solution:

This will depend on the location of the broken piece. If it is near the outer edge, you may be able to get away with carefully breaking the damaged piece out of the frame and using the soldering iron to loosen the lead cames and then re-soldering the new piece in place as in #7 above. If the broken piece is in a difficult location or if there are several broken pieces, you may want to re-lead the entire window following the above instructions. If there is a small crack, you might consider using a glass repair kit from the automotive shop. These are used to fix small chips and cracks in windshields and if the damage is slight, may be a suitable way to repair the crack and prevent further damage.

There are a number of other small repairs that you can do yourself such as re-painting areas that have flaked off, but these will need to be removed and re-kilned and you may want to consult with a professional for help with that. Restoring your stained glass window may be a painstaking process, but it is worth it to preserve its original beauty and make it last for future generations.