Stained Glass Restoration for the US Capitol
One of our clients is a worldwide premiere stained glass restoration company. Their project was to restore some of the stained glass art in the US Capitol Building. They wanted us to reproduce the art digitally so they could “temporarily” install our prints (looks as good as the orginal glass). The came up with the idea to temporarily replace the four stained glass ceilings in the US Capitol building with photographs made into giant transparencies printed to size to mimic the actual stained glass which was to be removed and restored and then installed back into the Capitol.
The company used digital photography to capture the art on the windows. Getting through security was not easy. His equipment had to be x-rayed along with some of it taken out of the case and examined. The windows were digitally photographed in four sections using a tripod as close to the floor as possible. In some cases, they had to work on the staircase itself. The first windows photographed were in the House of Representatives. They were very cooperative there. At the Senate, things were a little different. It seems that tripods are not allowed in the Senate area. After a lengthy discussion with a few people in the security area of the Senate, they assigned a guard to make sure no guns were attached to the tripod. No kidding, that’s why the guard was assigned.
After getting through security, we wanted to learn the history of those windows and so a meeting was arranged with the Capitol Building historian. We met in the cafeteria in the basement of the building. The librarian arrived with a stack of papers about a foot high containing all the paperwork and correspondence associated with the purchase and installation of the original stained glass ceilings. They were dated right around the time of the Civil War. It seems as though the US government wanted a specific artist to create the windows, but he was not initially interested in producing the windows.The impression we got from the letters was that he was very busy and not really interested in working for the government. This was around the time of the Civil War and at the time money from the government was not so plentiful. It seemed, after much correspondence, the artist decided to accept the job of creating the windows.
Raw files were digitally photographed and converted to 14 bit Tiff files. Dirt and cracks were retouched, balanced for color and then presented to us to do the printing. Each window was approximately 16 ft. long by 8 ft. wide. The restoration company needed only small sections and so we printed each window in 7 sections. We printed them on a special window backlit media with an adhesive back. After printing, we applied overlaminate with a luster finish, in order to give our prints a true glass look. Our prints were then handed over to the restoration company, who took them to Washington DC and installed each small section onto clear plexiglass and then re-installed into the windows.