Fixing/reusing old stained glass in original frame?
December 13, 2010 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Looking for advice about how to fix stained glass in its original window frame so we can hang it inside window in a house.

My husband and I have three pieces of stained glass of the size that would fit in a transom window or door in our garage. The glass is still in its wooden original frames, complete with the sharp ends of nails sticking out of it where it was nailed into the house and chipping paint. We'd like to hang these pieces inside the windows in our new house, but we have no idea of what to do with them to fix them so they can be used. They probably need to be reframed, but I have no idea of how to do that.

Neither my husband nor I is very craft-oriented and we have no craft supplies. Also, we have no idea of what it would cost, and our budget is limited since we just bought a house.

I'm looking for 1. Ideas of what to do with these pieces to make them usable to hang (not to set into a window) or 2. Recommendations for a frame/stained glass shop or craftperson in the Austin area who could fix them or 3. An honest appraisal that this is not worth my time and effort and I should find new pieces and pass these on to someone who can use them.
posted by immlass to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The easiest thing would be to just remove the nails that are sticking out, scrape the loose paint off, then repaint the frame. Attach a couple eye screws on the top and hang them up with some picture wire.
posted by orme at 10:13 AM on December 13, 2010

Best answer: I'm a little confused about what they look like now and what they would need to be hung again. It sounds like you may just need to treat the frame a bit (like orme said). Could you post a picture?

There are basically two kinds of connections between pieces of stained glass. One, which is the more crafty way that I learned in art metal, is to cover the edges of the glass with copper flashing and flow solder everywhere between the pieces. Because you're talking about something older, I'm assuming that your glass is the other kind, which involves strips of lead came that provide "tracks" to fit the glass snugly and are only soldered at the intersections of the lead strips.

That kind, luckily, is more sturdy. However, you'll probably need someone a little more experienced to do the fixing. I don't think it'll require any hardcore artisan, though.

Looks like there are loads of people in Austin who could at least provide some assistance. Most glass shops are very familiar with getting stuff ready to hang.
posted by Madamina at 10:15 AM on December 13, 2010

Response by poster: The last four photos in my flickr stream are now photos of one of the stained glass pieces that I just ran down to my garage and took. The other two are in similar shape. You can see the nails in the photos of the sides of the piece.

I'm sure this is all standard repairs to people who know what they're doing, but I am absolutely not one of them. Thanks!
posted by immlass at 10:46 AM on December 13, 2010

Seconding the need for pictures here. If you have nails, remove them. If the paint is chipping, scrape off the loose stuff and repaint (you may want to check if the paint contains lead). Otherwise, you haven't really indicated what needs fixing about these. Is there a problem with the glass itself? What makes you think they need a new frame?
posted by ssg at 10:46 AM on December 13, 2010

Best answer: After seeing the pictures, I would say that you don't need new frames, but it looks like at least one frame may need some repair. So, step 1: back the nails out of the frames, step 2: scrape off loose paint, step 3: use wood glue to fix any large loose pieces of the frame (e.g. lower right in image 553), step 4: use wood filler to fill any large holes (e.g. nail holes), step 5: sand as needed, step 6: repaint, step 7: hang.

Alternatively, if you feel the frames are a little too large, you could have someone with a table saw carefully trim off the pink-painted parts of the frame, leaving a flat outside edge (which could be rounded or otherwise shaped to your taste).
posted by ssg at 10:56 AM on December 13, 2010

Best answer: Quick follow up to what Madamina said about the different types of stained glass - the foil/solder method is meant for decorative stained glass, and the lead piping is sturdier, and meant for stained glass that is exposed to the elements, once it is wrapped around the glass pieces there is a putty put in to secure the glass and make it durable to the outdoors.

Since yours are a more secure method creation (lead piping) and you're planning on turning them into something decorative for the indoors, you shouldn't have a problem. If you press gently on the glass itself, does it wiggle at all? Is there any give? If not, and it's still fairly secure, you're really just looking at having the framing replaced. Which would lean you more into the carpentry end than the stained glass end of things.

I have a fairly large piece of interior decorative glass I did a few years ago and my (admittedly crafty) husband just built me a frame, and as mentioned by orme, just screwed in some (industrial strength) eye screws and hung it from there. Don't underestimate the weight of those pieces when hanging. I'd say someone who has better recs for your region for a particular stained glass shop can guide you there, but don't be surprised if they tell you that your glass isn't the problem, the frame is.
posted by librarianamy at 11:12 AM on December 13, 2010

The easiest thing would be to trim the edges with a table saw so that they are even. Strip the old paint and repaint the wood including the edges. The stained glass itself should have an outside frame so you could strip off all the wood or even make a new wooden frame.
posted by JJ86 at 11:46 AM on December 13, 2010

Best answer: The frames are pretty heavy for what they are now, I'd get rid of it unless you like that distressed look. Check and see if the leading goes around the whole thing. If so, you could get some aluminum or steel angle bracket to minimally frame it strongly enough. You might also consider having the other panes filled in, which can be done. The stained glass I've given as gifts have always hung fine with a suction cup hook and a chain between the top corners.
posted by rhizome at 1:57 PM on December 13, 2010

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