Monday, 11 December 2017

Methodist Church, Kilsyth

Some time ago, the Methodist Church in Kilsyth asked me to evaluate a circular window from their old church.

The congregation had decided that they needed to sell the too-large, too-drafty church building so they could build a new one more suited to their purposes.  They now wanted to make use of the glass they had been able to preserve from the original building.

We went through several possibilities ranging from refurbishing the round window and placing it on the wall; the use of the three colours to create a cross-like design in each of three windows on the uphill side of the new building and such like.  Each was an attempt to keep the costs as low as possible.

Further discussion within the congregation and between the property committee and me led to a more ambitious project.  It became clear that one of the objectives of the new building was to be open to the community in a variety of ways.  They also wanted the Methodist Church in Scotland symbol represented and, of course, the cross.  From the discussions, I suggested one of the windows should represent an open door.  I presented some sketches of how the existing glass could be used and combined with new glass to achieve the results.

The congregation considered these and came up with a modified set of images which I worked on.  These modifications were agreed, and I began building the panels for installation against the existing double-glazed windows.

Installation was not difficult, as the windows are not high in the walls.

The congregation is pleased with the result and so am I.

The complete installation

The image in the central window, using streaky glass for the colour and the existing glass for the background.

The right window image using flashed and acid etched blue and red glass. Streaky and original glass form the background.

The open door image in the left window using streaky, painted and stained glass together with the original glass.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017


During the construction of "Destruction", the Grenfell Tower fire occurred.  This attempt at housing and then improving the structure at lowest cost, led to a series of disastrous decisions. In short, cost won over safety.

This is my inadequate response to that disaster.

Tower (Urban Distopia 2) from above

"Tower" from the side

"Tower" from another side

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Urban Distopia

Percolating away in my brain for some years has been a difficulty in finding a way of representing the destruction and violence at national levels.  At each stage something prevented me from continuing with any of the ideas.

Now after a visit to a conference, where there was some discussion about both techniques and expression, a new vein of thought and its possible expression began.  This is the first iteration of that thread of thought.  

Urban distopia is about the things that go wrong even when we - either as individuals or as a society - try to do the right things.  This first expression of the idea is based on the destruction being felt throughout the middle east.

Destruction (Urban Distopia 1)

The mirror is an attempt to reflect our responsibility for these things.  We are not just observers.  When we look at the destruction, we are reflected in it.  

Placed on a plinth at approximately eye level, the viewer is reflected amongst the destruction.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

More Restorations

A delight for me at the moment is the start of a small restoration of some stair windows in a William Leiper designed house.  These windows are fixed directly into the stone above a sloping roof.  The owner took advantage of the erection of scaffolding to repair the roof to have me come to restore broken pieces of glass and to try to eliminate the amount of water coming into the house from the windows.

Taking glass out of stone is always difficult without breaking the edge pieces of glass, hence the tradition of one or two lines of narrow glass around the perimeter of the window, as these can be replaced without affecting the whole of the window. With the help of a friend and one of his tools, we managed to get the windows out without a great deal of breakage.

A more local appreciation of William Lieper

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Float Glass Experiments

It is well-known in kiln forming circles that float glass is inclined to devitrify with long, slow or repeated firings.  I decided to try to take advantage of this for a panel.

I shingled the strips of float and fired them at 835C for 10 minutes.  I expected a striped result with devitrified surfaces alternating with clear cut edges.

I didn’t get it, though.  Instead there were areas of mild devitrification, but no strong bands.

top, general view

View of the top ends of the strips

General view of the bottom

Detail view of the bottom ends of the strips

There was some evidence of devitrification at the ends of the strips where points were formed. 

Some pointed ends showing devitrification

Even when viewed in detail, there is little evidence of devitrification.  I continued, to do a slump, but even then, the tin bloom and devitrification did not show strongly.  Sometimes when you want an effect, you are unable to provoke it.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Repairs in Clevedon

Even where regular maintenance is undertaken, there are accidents.  Doors seem to take the most punishment.  This house in the Clevedon area of Glasgow was subject to damage.

Even though it is set back from the road and with a gate, the glass got broken in a few places.

This is a large entry way with a grand hall behind it.

The door of course had a new break and a few others needed attention at the same time.

In addition, the fanlight above the door was rattling, although there were no breaks.  This was re-0cemented in situ.

A view of the completed repair from the inside.

This house was built in the period 1870-1890.  When compared to the entrance at a house in Bearsden built in the period 1910-1915 
[Bearsden   ] you can see that exactly the same design was used.  This shows the large studios did recycle designs, even though in this case 20-40 years later.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Repair and Protection

An existing bathroom window needed some repair, as well as consideration on how to keep the bathroom warmer.  It is a large bathroom with the glass in a steel frame.

The options seemed to be removal of the frame and installing the reworked glass in a double-glazing unit or secondary glazing.  The removal of the steel frame would require a whole new frame to be installed.  The tile work of the bathroom would be disturbed and need replacement.  All this would have involved quite a bit of expense.  In addition, the glass panels would need to be reworked into a single panel, requiring quite a bit of alteration.

The secondary glazing option would be almost as effective as double glazing, as the walls are thick enough to have more than 100mm each side of the existing frame.  And it would be much cheaper than the encapsulation and associated work.

In either case, there were panes to be repaired, and the whole window to be cleaned.

Break at left hand corner
Break at the right hand corner

Break beside a rose motif

Missing pane at the catch

The decision was to go for secondary glazing.  Because of the internal tiling, and the large space outside the frame, the secondary glazing was put on the outside.  This required a frame to be made for the protective glazing.  The glazing had a ventilation slot at the bottom to allow slow circulation of air and avoid condensation on the outside.  This is the same concept as the isothermal glazing used in churches.  This installation used a minor variation in allowing circulation of air from the bottom only, instead of all around.

The work on repairing and cleaning was conducted at the same time as the framing was done. 

Framing for secondary glazing 

The secondary glazing was attached in such a way that it can be removed for cleaning and decorative purposes.

Secondary glazing in place

The finished work shows no effect of the secondary glazing from the inside.  The pole for the washing line can be seen clearly.

The outside of the house shows no significant difference with the secondary glazing in place.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Loss of Painted Glass

I was called out to look at a broken door panel by a landlord.  The flat is in one of the currently less wealthy parts of Glasgow. The request was for a repair or replacement.

The painted glass was broken from the lock across the whole glass in several places.  The options were to make a copy or replace with plain glass.  The landlord decided that it was too expensive for a replacement copy and replaced the window with plain laminated glass.

This door shows that the area was once a prosperous area of the city during its industrial flourishing.  It is not a large flat, probably built in the period 1900-1915. The status of the area at the time it was built is also shown by the stair window that remains.

Although some parts of the window show the deterioration of the paint work, it is still in reasonable condition.  These windows are of a quality that deserves to be preserved, but because they are not in the grander parts of the city, they do not receive the grants to assist in their preservation that are available in those other areas.

This failure to recognise the glass heritage that remains in the poorer areas of the city will lead to the decrease in the variety of glass preserved from the great industrial period of Glasgow.

Sunday, 13 August 2017


In trying to understand craft better, I have been reading a range of books and articles.  In one of these, David Pye* talks about workmanship instead of craft or craftmanship.

Some elements from this book have a resonance for me, and I trust others: 

"Designers have only been able to exist by exploiting what workmen have evolved or invented." p.17

"Material in the raw is nothing much.  Only worked material has quality and pieces of worked material are made to show their quality by men [and women], or put together so that together they show a quality which singly they had not"  p.18

He talks about the quality of workmanship being judged by the soundeness and aesthetics ("comeliness") of the result. p30

"workmanship is the application of technique to making, by the exercise of care, judgement and dexterity."  p.51

*The Nature and Art of Workmanship, by David Pye, 1968, rev. ed. 1995

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Airdrie Mosque

I’ve been asked to assess a small chapel that has been converted to a place of worship for the local Muslim community.  It is based in a disused chapel that has been partially converted for immediate use. 

Money is now being collected to do a complete renovation of the building and it access to make it more suitable for the current purposes.  The building is listed by Historic Scotland, so an assessment of the work required was needed.  I was asked to provide information on the work required for the windows and some indicative costs for the application to Historic Scotland for grant money.

The central part of the building has been covered at the balcony level.

This area shows some of the worst of the damage caused by weather and lack of maintenance.

The work includes the need to replace much of the timber work behind the stone mullions.

The external view of one of the windows shows the full extent of their height. Although they are protected by a wire mesh, there is visible damage to the upper portions and they are not as secure in the stone as is desirable.

A lot of work will be required to make the windows sound and divide it into two levels appropriate to the needs of the new religious community.  I do hope they will be able to get the funding and support needed.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Gillespie Centre

The community centre in Biggar has several windows in the converted church’s upper hall.  During a storm, the upper portion of one of the windows was blown in.

Inspection showed that the storm had damaged the lower portion too.  It was decided to repair and refurbish the whole window and do a few repairs required to the blue green borders too.  This work was conducted in conjunction with Stephanie Whatley of Biggar Glass Works.

The glass is installed into stone and protected by an external mesh in a steel frame.  To get the outside of the window to remove the protective mesh access to the roof was required.

This required the hire of a cherry picker to get onto the roof and access the window from the outside.  One day to remove; a couple of weeks to clean, repair and re-lead; another day to install.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Bearsden Changes

A house from the 1920/30’s was being refurbished and extended and needed its leaded glass at the front installed into new double glazed units.

This was installed into wood in the traditional manner and only needed refurbishment.  There were external storm doors to reduce heat loss.

However, other windows were installed in steel frames, creating a lot of condensation to collect at the bottom of the frames.  The steel hopper was rusted shut.  This needed to be placed in a double-glazed unit and new window frame.


The window above the entrance on the first floor also needed double glazing and new frames.

The front door is a good example of how persistent the Arts Noveau designs were even after the Arts Deco style, that is reflected in the rest of the house, was firmly established. It also shows how designers were willing to incorporate various styles into the same building.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Domestic Cupola

I was asked to replace a discoloured and plain cupola in a 1930’s bungalow.

It is lit from above both by a roof light and by internal lighting in the loft space.  This meant that a design could be employed that would be visible both by day and night.

The brief was to bring something of the Arts Nouveau into the design.  The design could have been the repetition of a design element in all eight parts, but I wanted to work with the whole as one piece.  After some discussion on the themes it was settled on a flower and leaves theme.

My first design was developed using a template of one of the triangles forming the cupola.

However, in my enthusiasm for the sinuous curves for the stems and buds, I forgot the need to include the roses that were discussed and agreed upon.
[Anderson 2nd design web]

This one does include the roses.  And I do know that the roses in nature would be open after the other buds, but some artistic license was accepted. And the building of the panels began.

Installation required the removal of the old glass.  As the house had just been completely redecorated, lots of old carpet and dust sheets over them was required to protect against any glass falling and possibly puncturing the new wood flooring.

Already the simple removal of the nicotine stained amber glass transformed the light within the hallway.

The installation began by installing each numbered piece in order, as any misplaced panel would interrupt the flow of the design.  However, it would have been better if templates for each of the eight openings were taken.  The openings were not completely regular. 

When complete, it provided a new interest to the hallway as well as allowing much more light into the space. The straight lines running through the composition are the location of the support bars for the glass.

Best of all, the client was overjoyed at the result, bringing relatives around to see what had been achieved.