Travel with Bennett-Watt and learn about the Cathedral Crafts stained glass restoration workshop in Winona, Minnesota.
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Don Jasan: I was getting lost in my work. You can do that with this. Time goes by to get a pay check for doing something I like. I like working with my hands. I like having something that have the data that I just look at. It’s kind of nice. It’s kind of interesting thing about this existing for another hundred years before somebody else comes along and does the same thing.
Bennett-Watt: In Winona, the Stained Glass Capital of America. For over 30 years, cathedral crafts have been creating and restoring classic stained glass art in Winona.
Eric Penic: So, when we bring the restoration projects in, this is the first stage, this is the first area where we’re at. And what we have to do, these are leaded stained glass windows and what happens to lead overtime is it’ll age, become brittle so we have to replace it throughout a stained glass window. The lead is a skeletal element in the windows so that what holds, binds the glass together. So what we’re doing is we’re just assembling the panels, all the original glass from the old lead can which is then recycled. And then when we go to production area, everything is put back together and reassembled with new lead can. So, these windows and we have projects in here, the windows in the tub right now are from Washington, DC, Catholic church there. These are from a Lutheran Church in Albert Lea Minnesota. These windows here are from a Christ Scientist Church in across Wisconsin. So, we cover quite a territory. We cover about 18 states to the Midwest and the Eastern seaports as well.
Before everything is done wet now because of the lead, this white stuff is the lead that is oxidized so you don’t want to disturb it. The lead is bad for you if you inhale it or ingest it. So, everything is done wet. It also cleans the window, the glass a lot better, years of coal burning and candle burning and everything else. Sweat on the glass which needs to come off and then all of the old growth of the stuff here easy come off. So, the windows actually when the processes are all done and—windows will be structurally sound and brand new clean like they were when they’re original set.
If you get lost, when you’re taking it, you only take two, three pieces at that time. You don’t have to get it out of yourself but if you do get lost, you can just put it together, you just come over and look at the rubbing and then put it back together, keeping together that way. This is the sampling of some of our glass that we keep on hand. We have probably 30,000 square feet of glass on hand. These are all cathedral glass, this is all domestic made glass, different variations, not a variegated color, there’s thousands and thousands of different color combinations. So, when you get blue-purple and then there’s an amber-green. It seems like no matter how much glass you have, you never have the right piece so you end up ordering another to create something. But I mean the variations and they can be so subtle. I’ll visit a church and I’ll think, “Oh, I’ve got a whole bin of that and I’ll come back and I’ll be one shade off or it doesn’t have enough green it in or enough—or enough blue and then we’ll go back to a drawing board.” But you can always match something out. We deal with about six or seven different glass companies to match up glass.
Here’s the—and these windows have all been disassembled and cleaned. And see we keep all the panels together. These windows are actually from Edenton North Carolina, Catholic Church in Edenton. See all the panels are numbered so we can keep them all together. We know whether replacement glass needs to go, where window is located in a church to see if we can possibly rub glass from original glass from one way to put in another window and put replacements in a window that maybe in about in year in a janitor’s closet where it’s nice viewed as well or as much.
So, this is the production area then, we have two tables going right now and then a third there’s a layout on there. You see the rubbings that I was telling you about are taken. They lay those out, they’ve got their tablet with a glass on it and you see certain types of table. And what they’re doing now is they’re taking the pieces individually, wrapping it with lead and then piecing it all together like a big jigsaw puzzle all with the new lead can. So now, once this is all done, once both these panels are done, all the joints, the lead joints where they meet, you have to—each one of this and you do that front and back. And that’s what all the lead can get together now.
This is the mudroom, the—and what mud is, it’s a glazing compound that acts kind of like it’s your entire lane or in mason ring, it’s kind of a grill that sets up underneath the lead can and that’s what waterproofs the window. So, you work that in and you clean it up off the glass really well, just turn on the lead can, you let it sit. And we let it sit usually about a half day and then you clean it off and then you flip it over into the other side so both sides are done. But this is the last place that the windows will be before they get on a track and go back. So, if throughout the process, any piece of glass has broken, whoever is in here and he’s to blow the—on it so that we can get it replaced before it gets on and sharping goes on.
Bennett-Watt: Minnesota is a wonderful combination of outdoor recreation opportunity punctuated by the sophistication of a major urban center. The people here are what makes this state like all of the others in our magnificent union a very special place to live and visit. Thanks for watching.