It is difficult to briefly explain each and every of the operations – sometimes very laborious and complex ones – that each of the processes they carry out entails. However, the manufacturing procedure basically has the same phases for all the leaded stained glass windows they develop. These are detailed below.
1. Design of the window. The idea behind the chosen design is first materialized at a reduced scale elaborating a draft, which, once it is approved, will be the basis to carry out the so-called cartón or real-size draft. This second draft will be then cut out using double-edged scissors to obtain the templates for each of the pieces which will make up the final stained glass window.
2. Cutting of the glass. Once the templates are ready, these are placed on top of the selected coloured glass, cutting the pieces using a special blade. Once these pieces are cut, they double check the pieces to ensure they coincide with the original idea and that the measurements of each of them are correct.
3. If the stained glass must be painted after, in order to obtain a greater feeling of depth and volume, each one of the pieces will receive a coating of vitrifying sands and enamels and then will go into an electric oven (muffle oven) where they will be fired at a temperature between 700º and 800º. This kind of electric oven does not generate any sort of fumes nor excessive noise.
4. After the firing of all the pieces – or with all the pieces cut to their adequate size if we have skipped step C – the next step involves the use of lead. The process of leading up is carried out placing a lead ingot along the main piece. Once on the working surface, the way to proceed is to continue incorporating lead rods and glass pieces until the stained glass window is complete.
5. When all the pieces have been leaded, then the unions are welded with tin.
6. Lastly, with a bristle brush, a special type of caulking is applied. This caulking is made of powdered calcium carbonate and linseed oil and is important for it to penetrate within the joints between the lead elements and the glass. Once dry it acts as an elastic seal which will absorb the thermal expansion and shrinkage of the elements and the possible vibrations which can also occur.
In the restoration of artistic stained glass windows several factors are important to be considered: the specific location where it is going to be placed, the type of stained glass window on which the actions are going to be carried out, the antiquity of the element and the historic or artistic value of the piece, etc. However, there are always a series of operations that will be carried out:
Obtainment of pictures and labelling of panels for their later identification.
Removal of panels from their original location and transport of the panels to the workshop.
Placing of provisional glass pieces to substitute others (if necessary).
General cleaning with neutral detergents and non-abrasive means which guarantee the permanence of original vitrified paint, eliminating accumulated dirt.
Replacement of broken pieces which present compound fractures. Those which present simple fractures which do not affect the aesthetics or the security of the stained glass will be maintained to preserve the greatest possible amount of original pieces.
Re-leading up of the most affected parts of the window using velgas (kind of lead rods) of the same calibre as the original ones.
Going through all the metal and glass joints and re-welding them.
Caulking of the piece with fluid caulk made of calcium carbonate and linseed oil.
Transport to the site and placement on site.
The necessary tools to carry out these actions are detailed below:
Cutting tools: story poles, flat surface pliers, special pliers to open the cut of the glass, double-edged scissors, simple scissors, squadron, blades.
Tools for welding: welding torch, solder paste, tin, heat-testing can.
Tools for leading up: sharp scraper, knife to eliminate burrs, hooks to work with lead, nails, hammers, pliers.
Tools for painting: paint brushes and brushes, scrapers, quill, maulstick, palette, vitrifying sands, enamels.
Experience as an artistic stained glass maker since 1975, starting as an apprentice at Vitrales Artísticos Alberto López Grueso, where he worked learning each and every phase regarding the manufacture and restoration of artistic stained glass windows, both leaded and with the use of concrete, aluminium and even the Tiffany technique.
In 1998 he was appointed to be the Workshop Manager (the general supervisor), because the former one retired. In 2003, together with three other partners, he set up the business named Vitrales Artísticos VITRALIA, S.L. Apart from the corresponding Basic General Training, he has carried out several courses linked to the profession of artistic stained glass maker and glassmaking in general. He also holds the corresponding diploma in Health and Safety in the environment of Glass and Ceramic Businesses after having carried out the necessary training.
The business does not give courses as such, however they have trained many fine arts students and apprentices who have been able to carry out works in the workshop alongside the Master.
– Stained glass dome (with a 13-metre diameter) for the Gran Hotel Foxá Tres Cantos (Madrid).
– Maintenance and comprehensive conservation of the artistic stained glass window of the Museo Minero (Madrid).
– Tropical-themed stained glass windows for the Church of the School of San Ignacio de Loyola. Puerto Rico (ELA-USA).
– Religious stained glass window – partially painted and fired – for the Bishopric in Getafe (Madrid). Parish Church of Santa Teresita de Lisieux.
– Stained glass window – completely painted and fired – for the Parish Church of Oporto (Portugal).
– Façades and skylights made of leaded stained glass for the Hotel Jardín Metropolitano, in Madrid.
– Leaded stained glass windows for the Viña Sastre Wine Cellars (Ribera del Duero).
– Leaded stained glass windows for the Islamic Cultural Centre de Madrid. (M-30 Mosque).
– Leaded stained glass windows for the Town Council of Astorga (León). Design by the Artist Benito Escarpizo.
– Leaded stained glass windows for the offices of the CESEDEN (Centro Superior de Estudios de la Defensa) Headquarters. Madrid.
– Restoration of the stained glass windows of the Catedral Magistral of Alcalá de Henares. (Chapter House, Library, Museum and Chapel of San Pedro).
– Restoration of the stained glass windows of the Bishopric of Orihuela, Alicante.
– Leaded stained glass windows – painted and fired – for the Hotel Venta Juanilla, Segovia.
– Large stained glass window – skylight for the Hotel Cándido, Segovia.
– Restoration of the stained glass skylight of the Bank of Spain, Segovia.
– Restoration of the artistic stained glass windows of the Ministry of Interior, Madrid.
– Restoration of the stained glass windows of the Church of Los Jerónimos, Madrid
– Stained glass windows for the Seminario of Alcalá de Henares, Madrid.
– Stained glass windows for the Mª Inmaculada Hall of Residence in Estella, Navarra.
– Restoration of the stained glass windows of the former Palacio Duque de Noblezas, current Hotel Catalonia las Cortes, Madrid.
– Restoration of the stained glass skylight of the Bank of Spain, Guadalajara.
– Leaded stained glass windows for the new Funeral Parlour Parcesa M-40, in Madrid.
– Leaded stained glass windows for the Parish Church of the Sagrada Familia, in Bargas (Toledo).
– Leaded stained glass windows for the Parish Church of Garrovillas de Alconétar, Cáceres.
– Restoration of the stained glass windows for the Instituto Cardenal Cisneros (Madrid).
– Stained glass skylight for the General Headquarters of the Spanish Air Force, Moncloa, Madrid.
– Leaded stained glass windows – removal and delivery. Chapel of the C.E.U. Residential College, Isaac Peral, Madrid.
– Stained glass windows with coat of arms for the Engineering headquarters in Hoyo de Manzanares.
– Restoration of the stained glass windows of the Bishops Conference building, calle Alfonso XI, Madrid
– On-site restoration of the stained glass windows of Los Jerónimos, in Madrid
– Restoration of the stained glass windows of the Church of San Vicente del Pino. Monforte de Lemos (Lugo).
– Restoration of the stained glass windows of the Panteón del Marqués de Valladares, Vigo (Pontevedra).
– Restoration of the stained glass windows of the Sociedad San Vicente de Paúl, Calle Vírgen de Peligros, Madrid.
– Restoration of the stained glass windows of the Hospital Real de Granada, Headquarters of the Rectorate of the University of Granada.