Sam Houston State University Project: Stained Glass Replication and Commemoration


Scottish Stained Glass had the honor of working with Sam Houston State University in its effort to preserve the university’s unique history. The project took almost a year to accomplish and honors a memorial that was first featured on campus over 100 years ago which actually inspired the school’s official motto. The motto, “The measure of a Life is its Service” is deeply rooted in its culture and was originally featured in the university’s main building’s stained glass window. Unfortunately, the main building burnt down in 1982, and all of the leaded glass and original stained glass features were lost in the tragic incident. Our team was tasked to completely replicate the original window as a part of the newly renovated and expanded Lowman Student Center in order to commemorate the important piece of art and its vast impact on the school’s history.

The original main building at SHSU

The unfortunate 1982 fire

The Process and Challenges of Replicating Stained Glass Art

This commemoration window was one of the most challenging projects our team of stained glass artisans has ever taken due to the nature of the project. Replicating someone else’s work proves very difficult as our first priority was to pay proper respect to the original artist while providing a beautiful commemorative piece that held so much inspiration and symbolism for the school’s community. Since the original window was completely lost in the 1982 fire, SHSU only had one existing photo of the stained glass feature printed in a 1964 yearbook.

The original Alcade Service window picture from the 1964 yearbook

 

Choosing glass based on the only reference photo in the 1964 yearbook

With the yearbook photo as the only reference available, our team scanned the photo in order to print out a full-sized version of the window. Our team traced along the lines for better accuracy and scanned that version back into the computer in order to refine everything and perfect the proportions. SHSU requested a slightly modified design where we completely replicated the original design but added complementary framework that looked original and cohesive. The commemoration window is almost double in the square foot as the original with the added frame design.

CAD mockup of the proposed commemorative window design

The next challenge was finding glass that matched the original glass perfectly. Since the original was built over 100 years ago, we were unable to find existing glass that was a 100% match. We found the closest glass pieces possible and had our painted glass artist and conservation expert Maria paint over the chosen glass to darken it down and create the perfect replicas. The figures and robing were then all handpainted in multiple layers to create realistic depth and shading and were fired in the kiln between layers. The final window has between 3,000 and 4,000 individuals glass pieces in the design.

Production of the commemoration window

Our First Full Stained Glass Window Replication

We’ve had significant experience with restoring stained glass windows and replicating only damaged areas. As conservation specialists, it’s always our goal to maintain as much of the original work as possible. That’s why replication work was kept at a minimum. However, this was the first time we’ve taken on creating a replication of an entire window. Our team found it especially challenging since it’s much harder to copy someone else’s work than creating your own. The comparison to the original sets a higher goal as our team wanted to achieve the perfect match.

Our team working to ensure a 100% match to the original window.

Successful Stained Glass Replication Project

The project outcome exceeded our expectations and the SHSU community was completely stunned by the finished product. The window was installed with a commemorative plaque in the new student center on campus. We are so humbled to have been a part of such an important project and helping this university forever celebrate its incredible history.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony for the dedication of the new commemorative stained glass window

Dedication plaque installed for commemoration

The commemorative window completed and installed

For more information regarding stained glass replication work, please contact us!

Martin Faith is a talented artist, entrepreneur, and business owner from Glasgow, Scotland. For the past 30 years, Martin has been running his company Scottish Stained Glass, which produces handcrafted, artisan made stained and leaded glass windows. Martin’s company has national reach and recognition and has been mentioned on numerous media outlets, including HGTV, the DIY Network, CBS, and NBC. Martin and his team have produced over 50,000 windows for over 12,000 customers across the United States.

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