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Restoration or Reconstruction? Creating Something from Nearly Nothing

It began with a phone call from a glass lover who had gotten my name from a colleague. She'd fallen in love with a piece of glass she'd seen at an antique store and got it for a steal of a deal because it was falling to pieces... but it was beautiful and just needed some love. She wanted to know if I'd come and take a look at it, just to see if there was something that could be done with it.

All I needed was one look - glass was literally falling out of the panel, but it was a beautiful piece and I was hooked. I wanted to do something to bring it back to life. So I took it home, in pieces, in boxes and bags and spread it out on a table to get a look at it.

This is as close to the original design as I could lay out all the pieces.

What could be done with a mess like that? The glass was too old to replace? It had been restored before and the glass used wasn't even close to the original. There was a lot of glass to work with. After discussing it with the customer we came up with a plan... The center oval would be a stand alone piece and the rest of the design could be "compressed" into a smaller version of the original piece. That allowed me to utilize the existing glass - sometimes creatively adding lead lines - but the concept would work.

The center oval was the easiest to complete. Most of the pieces weren't broken and the ones that needed to be replaced were colors that I happened to have good matches for. It was still a challenge. And like all restorations, it's never going to be as perfect as the original, but it worked.

The bigger challenge was the main panel. Tracing the pattern from the original piece and creating a new pattern, sorting the glass and laying it out on the new pattern to get an idea of what glass I had actual pieces for and what was "extra"... and then I began the process of fitting it together.

As I was piecing it together I realized something that hadn't been obvious before - while the panel looked symmetrical as I'd been working with it, one side wasn't a mirror image of the other. I also ended up with pieces that had places on the pattern but not in the final pattern - explain that one to me. I'm not going to fret though, I think it turned out lovely and now it's ready to solder... that's correct, it's FAR from complete, but you can see what the final piece will look like. And I consider that a huge milestone reached.

If you've been following along on Facebook you've seen the time lapse video of the project... once it's complete I'll edit all the short snippets together so you can see the project start to finish.