The Leadlight Restoration Process

 

The stages of the traditional restoration process are illustrated here with thanks to John Keane of the Franciscan Church Sydney. The original leadlight windows were restored by Bennett Leadlight in March 2005 to display in the Franciscan Church Archives in Sydney.

leadlight windows needing leadlight restoration                  

broken leadlights needing leadlight repairs                  

dismantled leadlights before leadlight restoration

 

1. Firstly the leadlight panels need to be taken out of their frames by removing any beeding or putty and then carefully extracting the leadlight, keeping it as intact as possible. If the leadlight panels are in particular disrepair and falling apart with broken pieces of glass, tape can be put across the glass to make it more secure to manoeuvre as a whole panel. Rubbings, photographs and any other relevant information is carried out onsite as necessary, to ensure the shape and leadlight design are adhered to as closely as possible when restoring the leadlight. 

2. The leadlight panel is dismantled and any broken glass is replaced with identical glass or similar glass as closely matched as possible, if the original leadlight glass is no longer available. Bennett Leadlight hold a wide selection of glass in stock to assist in such leadlight restoration work. 

dismantled leadlights before leadlight repairs                  

releading glass during leadlight restoration                  

constructing leadlight during leadlight restoration

 

3. The leadlight glass is soaked and carefully cleaned to remove all traces of dirt and putty.

4. Using reinforcing where necessary the glass is re-leaded and the original leadlight panel is recreated. The type of reinforcing used depends on the individual requirements of each leadlight project. 

soldering leadlights during leadlight restoration                                                 

puttying leadlights during leadlight restoration                            

puttying leadlights during leadlight restoration

 

5. All joins on both sides of the leadlight panel are soldered. It’s important that the solder connects through the leadlight panel and its finish is smooth on each side of the lead join. This ensures that the leadlight panel is strong as well as adding to the flowing aesthetic appearance of the lead. Rough looking solder joins indicate poor workmanship and a weaker leadlight window. 

6. Both sides of the leadlight panel are black puttied. A slurry of putty is made up and brushed into all the crevices on both sides of the leadlight window. Putty must fill the area between the glass and the lead to hold each piece of glass securely in place and give strength to the leadlight window as a whole.

cleaning putty from leadlight during leadlight restoration              

picking putty from leadlight during leadlight restoration              

polishing leadlights during leadlight restoration              

leadlight panel after restoration

 

7. Excess putty must be removed within a few hours whilst it’s still workable. Any remaining putty is picked out of small areas and heavy textures of the leadlight window, and smoothed to the line of the lead. Over time the putty hardens to a solid rock-like consistency which further strengthens the leadlight panel and makes it watertight. 

8. Both sides of the leadlight panel are highly polished, bringing out the glistening textures of the leadlight glass and the shining, smooth, flowing lines of the lead. The leadlights are now ready to be installed back into their frames. 

A well handcrafted leadlight reflects the quality of workmanship throughout the production process. Correct structural reinforcing, good quality solder joins, and the consistent coverage of putty sealing the edges of every piece of glass within the lead are essential. With due care and attention to detail, any leadlight panel can be restored to its original glory, giving it the strength and durability to last another lifetime. 

 

For further information/consultation call Dean on 0412 622 894 or simply fill in our contact form.