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Stained glass gleams again after 24 years

Post Time:Dec 12,2011Classify:Industry NewsView:403

PICTOU — Spectators packed the Pictou Justice Centre’s main lobby Friday to watch the unveiling of a dream come true.


They were there to participate in a ceremony co-hosted by the provincial Justice Department and the Pictou County Roots Society to mark the first public display in 24 years of stained glass windows that were salvaged from a fire that destroyed the old Pictou County courthouse in 1987.


It was a long wait, said retired Judge Clyde Macdonald, a member of the Pictou Justice Complex Painted Windows Society, which was formed six years ago to restore the 150-year-old trio of arched windows to their former glory.


Halifax architect Paul Hebert incorporated the windows into his design for the justice centre’s $2-million renovation, placing them on a balcony high above the main lobby where natural light filters through them from a glass ceiling.


The windows were imported from England in the 1850s for placement in the original ornate courthouse.

They demonstrate a technique that few artists follow now, said stained glass specialist Walter Norris, who restored the windows.


Unlike other stained glass windows, no lead was used in the Pictou windows, said the Hubbards resident, who has 37 years of experience in the business.


An artist used a brush to paint the image on the glass, which shows the goddess of justice with her sword. Then it was partially fired in a kiln, he explained. The artist repeated the process until he achieved the desired effect. Finally it received a last firing, at about 680 C.


"It’s a lot of work," Norris said. "If you screw up at any one of those stages, you have to start all over."


While the colour was initially brushed onto the glass and the finished work looks like a painting, the colour became part of the glass through the firing process, he said.


"It’s actual stained glass," Norris said.


Norris followed the same method to replace the damaged parts. He pieced together the heat-cracked glass where he could, holding it together with a special glue. He and his colleague, Randy Hester, worked about three months on the project and were able to keep about 85 per cent of the original glass.


The window is trimmed in flash glass, an opaque effect created by repeatedly staining and then etching away some of the colour. Today’s glass artists use sandblasting, but when the Pictou windows were made they likely used hydrofluoric acid, Norris said.

Source: http://thechronicleherald.caAuthor: shangyi

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