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The Butterfly Lives!

"It's nothing special" she told us. "It was my mother's and I've had it a long time. She didn't make it, but it reminds me of her".

Original stained glass piece to be repaired

That's how this repair began. The butterfly is fairly old. The majority of the glass is no longer made. Fortunately, no glass was broken but we would need to take care not to break any of it as we worked. Having to replace the old glass with new would change the nature of the piece. It would never look the same. It might be "nothing special", but it obviously has some sentimental value.

The butterfly was built using lead came and over the years it had developed a few problems. The type of lead came on the outside edge was not right. It had been hung from a single point on the butterfly's head. That caused the lead to pull away from the glass so the piece could no longer be hung safely. Finally, it exhibited a "hinge" effect. Both wings would easily fold along the butterfly's body.

Our first decision was to re-do the piece using copper foil rather than lead. Organic designs tend to lend themselves to copper foil rather than lead. We were going to have to take it apart anyway.

Assessing original glass for fit

Once we had it apart, we could assess how well the glass itself fit together. The pieces in the wings all fit together pretty well. We could do a little grinding to improve that. The fit between the wings and the body was another matter. It was a poor fit on both sides. The glass for the body barely fit into the lead came channel. That was part of the "hinge" problem. We needed to replace the two pieces for the butterfly's body. It was the only way to get a snug fit between the body and the wings. Fortunately, we had glass that closely matched the original. The new glass would not be noticeably different.

Then it was just a matter of foiling and soldering. We added horizontal support between the top and bottom wings that also ran between the two pieces of the body. That solved the "hinge" problem. We finished the piece by wrapping the outer edge with a lead u-came. To strengthen the piece we added wire along the back side of the lead came. Next we fashioned two wire hangers on wings to ensure the butterfly would hang safely. Lastly a little patina and polish and it's done.

In-progress repair images

This butterfly will live on for many more years of memories.

Completed stained glass repair

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