Typical stained glass panels are flat – They can be restored on standard benches and do not require any special forms. The windows that make up the dome in the South Dakota State Capitol restoration are NOT typical panels!
Each section follows the curve of the dome creating a compound curvature in both the horizontal and vertical planes. This requires special custom forms to be built for the panels to be re-assembled on. Further, both concave and convex mated forms are required as restoration work needs to be performed on both sides of each panel and the forms provide the support while the work is carried out.
Two sets of forms for each style of panel have been designed and created using a combination of site generated templates, careful measurements and good old-fashioned math! All the information has been entered into a computer aided design program that allows us to confirm the curvature and ensure that the finished panels will fit perfectly into the original settings. This information will also be used to design and fabricate new steel frames to hold the restored panels and offer additional support.
The text of the news article published by DRGNews.com is below. To hear Conrad Schmitt Studios National Project Director Kevin Grabowski describe the documentation, cleaning and repair processes for the stained glass panels, visit the official link:
Work Has Started to Clean and Restore Stained Glass Panels from Capitol Rotunda Dome
– (DRG News) Some of the stained glass sections from the rotunda dome of the South Dakota State Capitol are in now the process of being cleaned and restored. A previous assessment done on the glass throughout the Capitol found that age, gravity and design weaknesses had taken their toll since the glass was installed in 1909. The stained glass panels were taken from inside the upper reaches of the Capitol dome in August and are now being restored by Conrad Schmitt Studios just outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Kevin Grabowski, the company’s project director, says workers have been busy the past few months doing documentation on the pieces, like making “rubbings” of each panel, mapping the lines of lead that connect the glass pieces and taking photos and notes.
Now he says they are starting to disassemble some of the dome panels.
Grabowski says it takes time to separate the pieces of glass, clean them and relead the panels-but efforts are being made to make sure the glasswork retains the same look it had when it was first installed in the Capitol more than 100 years ago.
Grabowski says they are still a few months away from reassembling the panels. The cleaned and renovated dome panels will be returned to the Capitol in June of next year. Stained glass in the House and Senate chambers will be taken out after the 2014 Legislative Session and glass from the barrel vault above the grand marble staircase will be removed in May of next year. The goal is to finish the Capitol stained glass restoration work in time for South Dakota’s 125th anniversary of statehood on November 2, 2014. (View the progress of the glass restoration at http://conradschmittprojects.wordpress.com/)
This dramatic image offers an exclusive early look at the murals being created for St. Mary Catholic Church.
If you simply can’t wait to see the finished product, perhaps taking a look at some other murals by CSS artisans, here, will soothe your anticipation.
As October gets underway, Conrad Schmitt finishes up the gilded stencils along the ribs and crossbeams of the ceiling. and continues the careful application of gold leaf stars onto the ceiling.
See MORE progress photos on the St. Peter Catholic Church website:
If you love the look of gilding, take a look at the extensive gold leafing work completed by CSS on a Milwaukee favorite, the Pabst Theatre:
With the initial documentation in place, we can now begin the tedious process of taking the windows apart. The existing reinforcing bars are removed allowing the lead matrix to be carefully dissected and the glass to be fully exposed.
Each piece of glass is carefully placed in its proper orientation on the documentation rubs to ensure every shard returns to its original position.
These smaller panels have a little over 70 individual piece of glass each. The largest panels have 516! We estimate there are over 20,000 pieces of glass that make up the entire dome – each having to be be handled multiple time over the course of the restoration process!
SD Public Television included a segment about the stained glass project in an episode of its Dakota Life program. You can watch the program, which includes an interesting segment about restoration of the Supreme Court library in the Capitol here: http://watch.sdpb.org/video/2365073782/
The Mayor of Pierre also hosted a program about the stained glass project in her monthly feature program City Limits on the local cable television station OaheTV. You can watch the program here: http://www.oahetv.com/CityLimits09012013.htm