Stained Glass Repairs: An Overview

I often get approached, at markets or via email, and asked if I can do stained glass repair work – and the answer is yes! I am happy to have worked on quite a few stained glass windows and stained glass suncatchers that I have been able to restore and repair as if they are brand new again!

In this blog we will review:
  • how to hang your stained glass window for longevity;
  • how a stained glass repair assessment works;
  • how to repair stained glass - an overview;
  • stained glass repair costs.

How to Hang Your Stained Glass Window

One of the first questions I will ask, or one of the first things I am told, when talking about potential stained glass repair work is that the original piece was hanging in the window with suction cups. Although I do believe that you can use a suction cup for hanging home décor on windows, I never recommend it for stained glass. Mostly because the end result could mean wrecking or damaging your sentimental art work.
The most reliable way to hang your stained glass window is to install hooks within the frame of your window. By doing this, you can ensure that the hook never loses it hold, the way a suction cup does. You can then use this hook and adjust the chain or hanging cord to your desired length. This is similar to the way you would hang a plant in the corner of your room from the roof.

 Rebecca Maher, Glenn Maher and cute dog sitting on a bay window, geometric stained glass window behind them

The Assessment

When I first take a look at the stained glass repair work, I look for the why. Why did this piece break and how can I ensure it never breaks again? If it has fallen from its hook, that is a pretty simple solution. However, a lot of repairs are the result of a design flaw.

Broken stained glass angel
Lots of stained glass artists use ring saws to make more difficult cuts (deep curves, intricate/small cuts, etc). Although this tool allows you to make pieces that you could not cut by hand, it sometimes allows the stained glass artist to make weak spots in their work. These weak cuts will be the first parts to break if the piece falls or is even bumped. I do not work with a ring saw for this reason and only allow for cuts that I can make by hand in my designs.
When there are weaker spots in a design, I will often suggest changes to the design for the repair. I will also not repair a piece that I think will break it again. If the design changes are not approved, I will not proceed with the work. Sometimes it is hard with a sentimental piece, to think of changing the design in any capacity, but I assure you that the suggestion is only to add longevity to the stained glass window.
One other thing to note is that certain types of glass are not made any longer or are discontinued, so matching the glass in the original piece is not always possible. Please be open to alternative glass selection options.

The Repair Work

Once the stained glass repair assessment and game plan are approved, I will deconstruct or remove the broken pieces. Most of the time this involves removing the solder, with a soldering iron, and removing the broken glass. In the case of a leaded stained glass window, this may involve cutting away the lead came.
Once the broken pieces are removed, the pattern will need to be recreated in order to recut the new glass. From this point on, you will proceed with the stained glass process – please see my previous blog for further details on the stained glass creation process.

Two artists sketching a stained glass pattern

 Stained Glass Repair Costs

One of the interesting facts about stained glass repair work is that the repair is typically more labor intensive than the original production. This additional labour, as specified above, is due to the removal process and then recreating the design work. Pending on the size of the piece, this can be days of labour before even getting in to the recuts.
Because of this additional labour, the cost of repairing a stained glass window can be more than the original piece. Also, the cost of working with stained glass has also increased drastically over the past years so all materials have gone up in price.

 Three stained glass angles being repaired and cleaned

So in closing, if you are looking to have one of your pieces repaired, feel free to contact me for further details on your particular project.
"The best time to repair is when the sun is shining."
John F. Kennedy