Monday, September 10, 2012

Expert Provides Analysis of Temple's Stained Glass

The three large windows in the Temple depict
scenes from King David's life.
Last week, Jed picked up Jules Mominee at the Goshen airport (Jules has his own plane!). Jules came from the Mominee stained glass Studios in Evansville, Indiana. and is finishing his PhD in stained glass conservation at Ball State. After Jules had a chance to check out the windows at Ahavas Sholom, he called to give me the run-down. The windows are original to the building and are most likely from a stained glass factory out of Kokomo, Indiana. I'm sure I can find out more details on this in the information I collected at the archives in Cincinnati. There are a few pieces of antique glass which were integrated into the design, but most are contemporary to 1889. He did notice that there were a few replacement pieces- most notably at the bottom center of each panel. Jules suggested that these pieces were used to replace those which might have had donors names written on them, possibly in Hebrew. The pieces were probably replaced in the 1950s when the temple was sold to a church. The vitreous painted glass (the panes which depict clothing and other designs) seem to be in good shape. However, those panes which were painted with enamels, such as the faces and other flesh tones, are showing a bit of flaking. He recommended that we be very careful when cleaning the glass, especially in these areas. The lead composition is still holding up and has not oxidized much.

My main concern when I called Jules was the bowing at the bottom of the panels. Jules recognized this and explained that the bowing is due to the panels being a bit too large for the T-bars that were chosen to support them when they were installed. These bars have sagged and constantly push on the stained glass at the bottom of the panels. However, this was not Jules' main concern. He stated that the biggest issue with the windows was the fact that the windows are covered with plexiglass storm windows on the outside. These storm windows, although they have helped prevent breakage, have actually damaged the stained glass by trapping heat and moisture inside. He noticed the damage this has caused by the deteriorating putty between the lead and glass on the outside. In the end, he recommends replacing the storm windows with a specific window that is designed to help increase ventilation and keep the stained glass from enduring harsh temperature and humidity conditions while at the same time, protecting them from outside elements. He estimated that if we were to replace the storm windows, the stained glass would last for another 40-50 years without any other remedies. If we leave the windows as they are, they will most definitely need to be restored in 20 years. On overall restoration like this is quite costly. It is obvious that we need to begin looking into new storm windows to protect the beautiful stained glass at Ahavas Sholom. 

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