Sam Houston State University was founded in 1879 and is one the oldest universities in Texas. We are humbled to have had the opportunity to work with the school in order to preserve its unique history. SHSU wanted to commemorate its school motto which was featured in a stained glass window in one of the original buildings. Unfortunately, the original building was in a tragic fire in 1982 and all stained and leaded glass features were lost.
Stained Glass Commemorative Window
The project took almost a year to achieve and honors a memorial that was first featured on campus in this original stained glass window. The school’s motto, “The measure of a Life is its Service” has significantly impacted the school’s culture. Our team had the opportunity to create a complete replication of the original stained glass window in order to commemorate the incredible original artwork as well as the school’s history.
Stained Glass Recreation Challenges
As one of the most challenging projects we’ve ever taken on, our stained glass artisan team found it incredibly difficult to perfectly replicate someone’s work. Our commitment to paying proper respect to the original artist while ensuring a beautiful design that held so much beauty and importance for the school’s community was our first priority. With the original window completely destroyed, the only reference our team had was a picture that was printed in a 1964 yearbook.
With this only reference, we scanned the photo so we could print it out into a full-sized version. We then traced the lines for accuracy and rescanned the whole thing into our design software in order to achieve optimal accuracy and proportions. SHSU also wanted to build off the original design by including the framework. The new commemorative window is about twice the square footage as the original.
One of the biggest challenges with this project was finding glass that matched the original. Since the original window was built over a century ago, we were unable to find glass that matched perfectly. Instead, we found the closest glass pieces possible and had our conservation specialist and painted glass artist paint over the chosen glass in order to create a 100% perfect match. The figures and robing were hand-painted in multiple layers that were fired in the kiln. Ten plus layers were utilized to create accurate shadowing and depth. The commemorative window has between 3,000 and 4,000 pieces in total.
SHSU Recreation Results
This was the first time our team has taken on a complete replication project. While we have a lot of experience in replicating parts of damaged windows during restoration, we always prioritize keeping as much of the original piece as possible. This entire window replication proved challenging as our team found the comparison set a much higher goal for attaining a perfect match to the original.
The replication project was highly successful and exceeded our expectations. The SHSU community was delighted with the finished, installed product. The stained glass window was installed alongside a commemorative plaque in the newly-renovated student center. We’re so proud to have been part of this incredible project, helping the university celebrate its wonderful history for generations to come.
For more information on stained glass restoration, repair or recreation, contact us at Stained Glass Dallas