By Eric Wills | From Preservation | September/October 2011
Restoring the Tiffany windows in Guardia's home presented enormous challenges. Not only had they buckled from expansion, contraction, and the effects of wind, many of the signature pieces of opalescent Favrile glass were also broken or cracked. "Just about all the windows were damaged—some of them badly," Guardia says. "All were dirty, fragile, and deteriorating."
He hired Barbara Meise of Jersey City-based Artbuilders, Inc., which specializes in the restoration of stained glass. She began by removing the windows, then traced the pattern of each one and created an intricate plan showing the precise location of the components: "It's like a puzzle and you need to number the pieces on the pattern so you can replace them correctly." She repaired the warped strips of lead called cames, and replaced missing and broken glass with Tiffany remnants acquired over time, or with new glass where a match was unavailable. Finally, she cleaned all the windows prior to installation.
"Louis Comfort Tiffany was unappreciated for years," Meise says. "Now he's appreciated as an American genius. We have to do everything to preserve his windows, to pass them along for future generations. Restoration keeps the past alive."
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