Stabilizing bars, often referred to in stained glass conservation as “rebar”, are used in stained glass as a way to reinforce the stability of the panels. The rebars we are using for St. Vincent de Paul are flat steel bars. The original bars varied in size from 1/8″ to 1/2″ wide and 1/8″ thick.
Rebars are necessary to increase the longevity of a panel, but they can deter from its overall image. A subtle alteration in the placement of the bar can greatly improve the overall affect.”
Panel 6 (pictured below) is part of St. Vincent de Paul’s Window 48’s tracery.This panel originally had a straight rebar across the middle of the angel. When a panel (or window) enters the studio for treatment, the first step in conservation is to photograph the it in its original state.
Afterwards, we remove the rebar in order to create an accurate rubbing. The areas where the rebar was attached to the panel are marked with a red “X” within a red circle. We mark the solder joints so we know how to best recreate the panel’s rebar after it is rebuilt.
The images below depicts Panel 6 after it was built, soldered, puttied and polished. The top photo shows exactly what the original rebar would look like after conservation. However, as mentioned above, the original rebar cuts directly through the image of the angel’s body, creating a disruption in the image. The bottom image is our remedy to this problem. By bending the rebar, we are able to follow the lead lines already in place in the panel and not disrupt the image.
This is the final image of the panel AFTER conservation. Not only is the entire panel cleaner and brighter, but the image has been improved by bending the rebar.