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The Rose comes home

March 28, 2011

The Rose comes home

Sunbeams stab out through the dust and darkness in Tower Chapel, as Ramon Coranado carefully eases the 30-inch heart of the Rose Window from its lead fittings in the window frame where he had just placed it. The other pieces already have been fitted into place. This is the last and final piece. The fit isn’t quite right, so both Coranado, and his boss, Paul Martinez, of the stained glass specialist Judson Studios in Los Angles, will trim a bit more, before fitting the window for good a few hours later last Wednesday. As of Friday, the job of cleaning and refurbishing the lead in the 60-year-old window was complete. This refurbishing, estimated Martinez, should hold over the window for another 70 to 100 years. Or about the time when the great, great grandchildren of today’s students attend their first day of class.

Martinez and his crew have carefully been restoring the window since December last year, when it was removed, shipped down to the famed Los Angeles studios and the leading replaced or strengthened, while the 24 window panes were carefully cleaned.

This $35,000 refurbishing was desperately needed, as lead will expand and contract over time, Martinez explained.  The lead tubing that held the panes in place, especially the centerpiece, was beginning to buckle. So it was time for some much-needed TLC.

When the crews unwrapped the pieces down in LA, they first put all the panes on a table, and traced around the edges to act as a template for the lead holdings. As if recreating a puzzle, each piece was cleaned and waterproofed, and then fitted into the lead. Then the entire operation and window moved north again for reassembly.

It was time for the center piece to go in again Wednesday afternoon. Up the ladder Coranado goes, as Martinez follows him up on a separate ladder and hands him the centerpiece. The sunbeams become slits of light, still peeking through the edges of the panes, to be sealed up with glazing later in the day.

For Martinez, this is his favorite part, when the personality of the window begins to fill the room with its own glow once again.

“I just love it when the window and the glass transforms a room,” he said.