Portfolio: Recreating a Beloved Stained Glass Window for Sam Houston State University

Portfolio: Recreating a Beloved Stained Glass Window for Sam Houston State University

As stained glass restoration experts, we just love our jobs here at Fort Collins Stained Glass. We get to give our customers back their lovely stained glass windows that many of them think are lost to time. It is amazing to see the happiness that restored stained glass brings to churches, synagogues, historic homes, and universities. Below is one example of how our parent company, Scottish Stained Glass all but resurrected a formally stunning window lost in a fire.

Replicating Sam Houston State’s Historic Stained Glass Windows

Sam Houston State University, in Texas, was founded in 1879. Its original architecture included a striking stained glass window portraying the saints. This window was an icon to the school. However, in 1982 a fire that ravaged one of the main original buildings destroyed it. SHSU recently decided to recreate that window and emblazon it with their school motto “The measure of a Life is its Service. We are honored they entrusted our company to be a part of preserving the legacy of such an amazing organization and piece of stained glass art.

The First Challenge of Restoring Sam Houston State University’s Lost Stained Glass

The largest challenge of this particular job was creating a replication from almost nothing. It is critical in our minds to always deliver a historically accurate piece in order to respect the organization and the art. So, with only a picture from a 1962 yearbook as a reference, we began by recreating the design using modern technology. This meant scanning that picture into the computer, printing it out life-sized, and then traced each line. After that, we scanned the drawing again and put it into our design software. This allowed us to get perfect proportions to the original then use the program to double its size at the request of the university.

The Second Challenge of Restoring Sam Houston State University’s Lost Stained Glass

The next issue was sourcing the materials. Since they were used over a century ago many from that era no longer existed. This impacted the colors of the glass the most. However, by tapping into our network of stained glass conservation specialists, we were able to get most colors and others that were extremely close. We did not stop at “close enough” though. We actually then employed our talented painted stained glass specialists to paint on top of the colors that nearly matched the original. The result was an exact match of every color.

The Results of the Recreated Commemorative Stained Glass Window

The end result of this nearly year-long project was a gorgeous stained glass replica window. One that had over ten layers in some cases to create accurate shadowing and depth. Also, this piece ended up with about 3,000- 4,000 pieces when all was said and done. The clients were thrilled! The university staff, board, and students were absolutely delighted with the final product and we were too! We’re always so excited to see an old stained glass work restored and preserved for generations to come.

If you have a stained glass restoration or rebuild project we would love to discuss it with you and see if we can be of assistance! Contact us at Fort Collins Stained Glass today for a free consultation.

Martin's work has been spotlighted on HGTV, the DIY Network, CBS, NBC, and numerous media outlets. He is one of the most accomplished stained glass artisans of his time and the proud owner of Fort Collins Stained Glass. He has dedicated his entire life's career to sharing his love of stained glass with others and is an expert on its origin, manufacturing process, and history. In addition to creating custom stained glass for homes and commercial businesses, Martin also acts as a consultant for church restoration projects. Drawing on his own research and ongoing education as well as the skills that he attained while working as a glass artisan in Scotland, Martin helps property owners identify the best styles and options of stained glass for achieving their aesthetic and architectural goals. His company has been in business for over thirty years and has successfully executed over 50,000 projects.

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