After a year of extensive conservation treatment in the studio, the Nzilani team has begun reinstallation of the Charles Connick New Testament Window.
Empty crates ready to return to the studio
The 302 conserved panels will be reinstalled in the cast concrete tracery of south-facing window #41, utilizing traditional and modern stone-setting techniques.
Comparing the before and after condition of the panels (below), you can tell what a vast difference the conservation has made, which will ensure the window will be enjoyed for generations to come.
Lancet 2 “St. James” panel pre-and post-conservation in reflected and transmitted light
Those of you who have visited Grace Cathedral during the interim may have noticed the warm hue emanating from the transept. In keeping with previous restorations at the Cathedral, we inserted temporary streaky amber glass “plugs,” which provide weatherproofing while still allowing light to emanate through the church. As you may recall from a previous blog post, creating the plugs wasn’t straightforward. It took numerous measurements to make the templates, which informed the shape and size to cut the temporary glass.
Temporary Glass “Plugs”
After the plugs were installed, the templates became invaluable during the rebuilding of the non-rectilinear shapes found in the rose windows.
The conservation of this monumental, multi-paneled window afforded us the experience to streamline our treatment process; including: developing optimum releading strategies, usage of slip joints, even organization protocols like a detailed spreadsheet of the inside dimensions of the transport crates (seen in the truck above).
The Old Testament
Immediately after installing the New Testament Window, we will remove and start conservation of the Old Testament Window; following the original Connick installation order. Situated directly across the aisle from each other, the New Testament was installed in 1931 & the Old Testament in 1932.
The Old Testament window (#34 pictured above) has an identical assemblage of five lancets with seven roses above, as the New Testament.
Treating the windows “back-to-back” will offer us the unique experience of putting our acquired hands-on, “muscle memory” and organizational knowledge to use in the conservation of the Old Testament Window. The systems we have already put in place will facilitate its speedy and efficient conservation.
This is a rare (conservation) opportunity, as the work will allow us to compare and contrast the installation and original building techniques in both windows. We already have some theories about what the studio did with the second phase, we can’t wait to prove or discount them. As we’ve before, the art conservator wears many “hats” – in this case the art historian will inform the glazier and vice versa – it’s very exciting! We feel honored to be following in a master studio’s footsteps.
We look forward to sharing our discoveries and conservation solutions as we embark on this new stage of work at Grace Cathedral.